When it comes to data, there’s safety in numbers

When it comes to data, there’s safety in numbers

By HiLo Maritime Risk Management | March 26th, 2021

Life as a seafarer is riskier than it’s ever been. Issues such as the current pandemic, political instability and increased economic pressures all make the task of keeping our crews and our vessels safe a daily challenge. This means it’s more important than ever that we work together in the right way to make life at sea as safe as possible for everyone.

The maritime community has always worked together to improve safety standards. In one way or another, every one of us has exchanged information, advice or worked with industry bodies to push cross-company communication throughout our careers. The problem is, information sharing throughout the industry as a whole is unstructured.

Anonymous data sharing saves lives

Understandably, many shipping companies balk at the idea of sharing sensitive data with others. Keeping company data internal has long seemed the safer option, whether because of the fierce competition for journeys or for fear of the reprisals for errors. The problem is,  it’s not the safest option for the industry.

In fact, to achieve the higher safety standards we all strive for, we need to turn our approach to data on its head. The more shipping data we share, the more effectively risk management companies like HiLo can use it to predict potentially dangerous incidents before they happen. We all know that large scale incidents at sea impact the entire industry. One mistake from one crew member can lead to a catastrophe that costs millions, damages reputations, and risks lives.

Anonymously sharing data with HiLo enables us to analyse every near-miss that happens at sea, using the bigger picture of the industry’s weak signals to highlight potential incidents before they take place. The power to reduce the risks is in our own data, but we need to come together and make the decision to share it.

Other industries are already sharing data successfully

Data sharing has transformed safety and quality standards in many other transport industries. The rail industry’s data sharing program, the Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB) was set up after 31 people lost their lives in the Ladbroke Grove rail crash. The tragedy was a result of signal visibility issues, which had been noted many times previously but had not been rectified.

Four separate groups were given responsibility for problems with signal visibility, but their efforts were disjointed and proved ineffective. Now, the RSSB collects data from all UK rail companies and builds it into new standards, enabling safer practices across the country. The program uses root cause analysis to recognise the factors leading to serious incidents and equip rail companies with the tools to manage them. Since the Ladbroke Grove crash and the formation of the RSSB, incidents have dropped significantly, and fatalities are almost non-existent.

The aerospace industry is also using data sharing to improve safety and quality. Airbus has teamed up with supply chain partners to share data and collaborate in aircraft development. They have developed a platform called APROCONE which allows engineers to design in a shared, neutral environment, allowing for the input of chosen third parties.

This approach has sped up engineering and manufacturing times and given manufacturers the opportunity to support innovation. It has also drastically reduced production costs by working within the existing capabilities of manufacturers. Martin Aston, Senior Manager at Airbus, described how some processes that “used to take several weeks can now be done in a number of hours.” This has significant impacts on Airbus’ ability to build high quality, safe aeroplanes without the need to spend vast sums of money.

 Reducing costs and improving safety standards are welcome results in any sector, but perhaps especially in the maritime industry. Companies of all sizes are under pressure to provide a reliable, profitable service whilst steadily improving the safety of their crew.

 Where do we go from here? 

Safety is a priority for the entire industry, but we all experience limitations with time, information and resources. When companies share their data with HiLo, HiLo’s experts use a predictive risk model to deliver recommendations for increased safety levels onboard. HiLo uses companies’ data to empower their leaders to react to risk effectively. The more companies who subscribe to HiLo and share their data, the more effectively HiLo can reduce the risk of incidents that impact the entire industry.

All data is anonymous, so subscribers can submit their full safety data without fear of repercussions. HiLo are not for profit, so their sole focus is on using their role as the industry’s data centre to improve safety for everyone at sea. Companies who subscribe to HiLo receive detailed, regular reports highlighting the weak signals that can cause serious incidents.

CUPID, HiLo’s Community Powered Ideas , gives HiLo’s subscribers access to the experiences and expertise of the rest of the HiLo fleet through a knowledge sharing forum. CUPID is an invaluable resource for key decision makers, enabling them to draw on the experiences of others in the industry to react to risks with confidence.

So, are you ready to work together and make the seas safer?





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