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Smart Ports: Piers of the Future 2021 sparks innovation through collaboration

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Smart Ports: Piers of the Future 2021 returned to the Port of Barcelona for the third consecutive year, bringing together ports and stakeholders to answer pressing topics facing ports and cities.

Smart Ports: Piers of the Future brought in more than 6,000 unique viewers and over 20,000 video plays to find out more on how ports can become smarter, faster, and reduce their carbon footprint.

Viewers from across the planet tuned into the event, including: Colombia, Singapore, Morocco, Nigeria, United States, New Zealand, India, and Indonesia.

SMART ethos

Opened by industry leaders including Port of Barcelona President Damià Calvet, Port of Los Angeles Director Gene Seroka, and Port of Antwerp President Annick De Ridder, the two-day event tackled innovation in ports through the SMART (Sustainability, Multimodal, Agility, Resilience, and Transparency) philosophy.

Through SMART, the seven ports and partnering stakeholders highlighted best practice use cases from their teams, as well as participated in challenging discussion on a wealth of topics facing ports and cities.

Emerging technologies including 5G, AI and Machine Learning, Drone technologies, and HyperPort technology programs were just a small section of the incredible number of solutions demonstrated by the ports over the two day event.

The Port of Barcelona opened the event through its Project Spotlight partnership with IBM, Vodafone, and Huawei on using 5G and AI to improve vessel tracking and monitoring of the 9,000 vessels a year that dock at the Port of Barcelona. Through collaboration with public and private partnerships, the opening session set the tone for the value of working together to create a true cutting-edge port-city community.

Smart Ports: Piers of the Future, partnered with Smart Cities World Congress also taking place in Barcelona, embodied the intent to collaborate between port authorities and the surrounding cities they serve.

Port-city collaboration and the Blue Economy

A continuous theme throughout the event highlighted how port-city collaboration was crucial to answer key questions on the energy transition, creating a sustainable Blue Economy for the future, and digitalising processes to improve operations and reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.

The Blue Economy, embracing the utilisation of marine resources for the collective maritime industry, was a key panel session on how to create a sustainable future through economic advancement, protecting vast ocean ecosystems, and building a skilled, diverse and multitalented workforce.

The event was hosted by British Broadcast journalist David McClelland and Spanish broadcaster and presenter Ainhoa Arbizu.

In 2022 the Port aims to host the event as a full in-person spectacle, bringing in speakers, experts, and attendees to the Port of Barcelona to collaborate, build relationships and serve communities across the globe.

‘This group of ports is leading the world of innovation’

Damià Calvet, President, Port of Barcelona, said, “The Port of Barcelona is honoured to collaborate with our six partnering ports for this two-day event. This group of ports is leading the world of innovation.

“Smart Ports: Piers of the Future is about collaborating: it aims to connect citizens worldwide, identifying business opportunities by sharing experience and innovative practices. Innovation cannot just be fostered from the vision of the port authority.

We have to know what the community needs to make things prosperous for our community. Ports need to know what challenges we have to face, what solutions to put on the table, and how to implement them, not seeing the port as an isolated ecosystem but as one.”

Emma Cobos, Director of Innovation and Strategy at the Port of Barcelona, added, “Around 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions are coming from logistics as a whole, and 3% are coming from maritime transport.

“The goal is very clear: maritime, and particularly ports, have a clear goal on decarbonisation. It’s very important and relevant to change the pattern we are on with ports. We have been consumers of energy, but we also have to be creators and generators of energy. The future hinges on the role of ports in making that transition.”

Gene Seroka, Executive Director of Port of Los Angeles, commented, “For millennia, ports have been the lifeblood of our civilisation. Collaboration amongst smart ports is critical to the long-term sustainable evolution of our society

“On behalf of the Port of Los Angeles, I want to thank the Smart Ports team for bringing us together once again to engage in these conversations.”

Jens Meier, CEO of the Hamburg Port Authority, said, “I am very glad to be part once again of the Smart Ports: Piers of the Future event.

“It is great to see chainPORT members and stakeholders coming together to discuss and present port trends. This event is a great opportunity to showcase the top topics on the ports agenda as well as the most innovative ongoing projects.

“Turning a port into “smart” not only means to efficiently ensure a sustainable future defined by new technologies and the optimisation of processes and existing infrastructures within the port, but also requires multi-level cooperation between government authorities, local communities and other relevant parties.”

Daniel Olivier, Director of Business Intelligence and Innovation at the Port of Montreal, noted, “For this two-day event we were surrounded by influential leaders of our industry. Smart Ports: Piers of the Future is the leading reference globally on smart ports, where we come together with a common message.

“Ports are smarter than ever – I salute the Port of Barcelona’s strong vision for this event which is getting better year after year. Join us: dream big, start small, and make the future happen.”

Luc Arnouts, Vice-president International Relations & Networks at the Port of Antwerp, commented, “Collaboration between port and city and between leading ports is key to be future-proof and successful as an industry.

“Major challenges as energy and digital transition can only be tackled when ports are working together and it’s great to have this Smart Piers platform to share visions and build coalitions.”

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