Feature / 03 Apr 2022

Stocks rising in the Maritime Data Lake

by Martin Wallgren - Chief Information Officer, GAC Group

A lake is a thing of beauty. Sweden has many. I’m a Swede, and I like a good lake.

People in the shipping industry are becoming increasingly fond of lakes too, specifically data lakes.

Customers have realised that their ship agents are more than just people to help get their vessels berthed, discharged, loaded and on their way. Now they are seen as sources for value-adding information. You just have to fish in the right places, or digitally speaking, ‘interrogate the data effectively’.

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Deep diving
A useful data lake must be both deep and wide. GAC is fortunate to have 300 offices spread around the globe, mostly located in or near ports. These offices are our on-ground eyeballs, giving us first-hand inputs, often in real time, regarding port conditions and key events. This, combined with a range of other proprietary and public sources, creates a deep dive into data.

Our customers want us to create easy access pathways to all and every bit of data that might help them to save time and money and plan better. They want the usual port information - the line-ups, berth availability, timelines etc. But they also want finer details. If they’re pumping liquid cargo, they want to know pump specs. If they’re discharging breakbulk cargo, they want to know crane specs and availability.

Our capacity to capture and store data is virtually limitless so GAC’s data lake is growing deeper all the time. Equally, our capacity to extract data to match a customer’s specific needs grows stronger. Customers no longer want us to have key information for them ‘on-demand’. It is becoming the norm to have the data available ‘just in case’,

Pegasus reviews
GAC soft-launched our Pegasus customer portal in September 2021. I wish Pegasus was a Broadway play, because the reviews have been very positive. Our large international customers have noted significant advantages in having real-time information about port infrastructure, anchorages, services available, mishaps, accidents, delays and so on.

Pegasus is an evolving machine. Over time, its intelligence, its analysis, and its sheer data reach will grow. Meanwhile, what it delivers will be determined mainly by the questions that customers want answered. You just need to ask.

Plenty of fish

Data fishing

Fisherfolk, with their hooks, lures and lines, know that it’s all about being in the right spot at the right time. With GAC’s data lake, the time is always right. Indeed, time is taken out of the equation when your world is built around ‘just in case’. Anytime is fine.

Data, left to itself, is similar to the sludge that builds up on a lakebed. It just sits there. But when data is extracted, combined, refined, filtered and interrogated by smart algorithms and smarter people it has the power to transform a port call or indeed, a whole enterprise into something better. A data lake becomes a thing of beauty when its treasures are integrated well, and someone is asking the right questions. Bait your hook with a loose question and you’ll probably catch nothing.

It's the journey
Data and its uses will dominate every business sector over time. The journey has started but is far from finished. While there is much that can be done now, the ever-rising power of computers will determine how powerful a tool data will become. Things are going to get even more interesting than they are now.

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