Transition of an Era - 16/05/2017


For the future of hydrography it is necessary to think differently and of course adjust the business to that new way of thinking. That not only applies to hydrography, but to many fields close to hydrography and fields that hydrography delivers data to. A few weeks ago I visited the Port of Rotterdam and after a little tour on the water, the CEO of the Port of Rotterdam, Mr Allard Castelein, gave us a presentation on the future of the port’s business and what is needed for sustainable future growth in a world where some countries can build ports the size of Rotterdam in a decade (whereas it took Rotterdam 70 years!).  In the Port of Rotterdam one speaks of a transition of an era, not of an era of transition.

Things will really change. Think of a biobased & circular economy, and major developments in the energy sector – (American shale gas, low oil price, solar and wind energy, etc.). How does all this come together for a Port Authority that strives to keep its position amongst the major ports of the world. In Rotterdam it is all about digitalising and energy transitioning – facilitate existing businesses and stimulate new businesses, with an overarching goal: a stronger position amongst competing ports, for the better of society and business alike. Digitalising in the Port of Rotterdam means setting up an efficient system for information exchange between ships. Give ships the opportunity to manage their most efficient and optimised route through the logistics chain of the port and develop smart mooring posts all over the port sending their availability and cost to the ship. The whole transition for the Port of Rotterdam was thought over in a period when the offshore industry was in crisis. It was very necessary for the Port Authority to change its mindset immediately! The same of course applies to hydrography. An ongoing discussion that needs to be taken to the tables of those shaping our business.

Maybe in Monaco as well? From September on, a new trio will head the International Hydrographic Organization. The new Secretary-General is Dr Mathias Jonas (now Chief Hydrographer of Germany) and he will be assisted by the experienced and re-elected director Mustafa Iptes and the new director, Captain Abraham Kampfer from South Africa. Hydro International congratulates the trio and wishes them all the wisdom they will need to reshape the future of hydrography, a job that was already been taken on by leaving Secretary-General Robert Ward and his team – who I would also like to thank for the great work they’ve done in the last few years! In Monaco, but also on the desks and in the minds of thought leaders, researchers and entrepreneurs in hydrography, it’s also the transition of an era. It is good to take a look at examples nearby, like that of the Port of Rotterdam, as well as other examples over the world and in other businesses to get as many ideas to rethink and reshape as possible.

Durk Haarsma

Last updated: 27/04/2018