In the vast expanse of global trade, the local maritime industry that’s home to the world’s top maritime center, stands tall as a titan. Singapore, one of the world’s smallest city states, saw a record-breaking three billion gross tonnage in annual vessel arrival tonnage in 2023, and is the busiest transshipment port in the world.

The Singapore government plans to strengthen its maritime status by constructing the Tuas Port by 2040, which will be one of the world’s largest fully autonomous container port spanning 1,337 ha of land. Beyond the port, the government is exploring new ways to harness cloud technologies like generative artificial intelligence (generative AI), automation, and data analytics to tackle local and global challenges, like climate change.

MOU of MPA and AWS

To deliver on this vision, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), the country’s port authority and regulator, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in April 2024. As part of the MOU, MPA and AWS will establish ASEAN’s first maritime Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) Digital Hub that can enable MPA and industry players in building and testing AI/generative AI solutions.

Charting a Course for Greener Operations

Here’s a sobering fact: if shipping were a nation, it would rank as the 6th biggest CO2 emitter globally. Therefore, the potential for shipping routes and maritime hubs to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG emissions is immense. In support of the 2023 International Maritime Organization GHG Emissions Reduction Strategy and Singapore 2050’s national net-zero target, MPA’s collaboration with AWS to develop the AI-ML digital hub will provide opportunities for MPA and stakeholders to pilot AI and generative AI solutions to decarbonize the industry.

The MOU will allow MPA to use AWS services like Amazon Bedrock and Amazon SageMaker to pilot innovative AI and generative AI solutions. For example, new maritime AI solutions could be deployed on ships to analyze weather patterns and traffic data of ships that are scheduled to call at the Port of Singapore on a daily basis to plot optimal routes, adjust sailing speeds, and moderate fuel consumption, helping ships reduce journey time and carbon emissions for a more efficient and sustainable maritime industry.

MPA will also have access to Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative (ASDI), accelerating the authority’s sustainability research by minimizing the cost and time required to acquire and analyze large data sets related to geospatial information, oceanography, and weather, among others. The ASDI will help MPA create decarbonization solutions such as tools for carbon emissions accounting. To support the global sustainability cause, MPA will contribute relevant maritime-specific datasets, which are hosted in the Singapore Maritime Data Hub for publishing on the AWS Public Datasets catalog.

Building For The Future

There is a wave of maritime innovation sweeping across Singapore’s shores steered by the efforts of local startups housed under PIER71™, a business community supporting Singapore’s ambition to become a global maritime technology startup hub. With the MOU, maritime startups can leverage AWS Activate, an initiative that empowers startups to bring their innovative ideas to life, through provision of resources for innovating, building or testing of ideas, helping them realize their vision utilizing AWS technology.

The MOU will also foster innovation within the maritime startup space and upskill the maritime industry’s workforce in cloud and AI knowledge through AWS Training and Certification programs. In Singapore, hiring AI-skilled talent is a priority for 81% employers in the country but 74% struggle to find the AI talent they need, highlighting a looming AI skills gap. 94% of employers envision their companies becoming AI-driven organizations by 2028. To prepare for an AI-driven future in the maritime industry MPA will conduct skills development programs with the goal of training 200 participants from MPA and the maritime industry with AWS Training and Certification.

“The collaboration with AWS is a significant step forward in accelerating our digitalization efforts by tapping AWS’s innovative AI and generative AI capabilities in developing solutions. I am looking forward to piloting AI-enabled technologies, working with AWS and the industry to help maritime companies to optimize their operations, reduce carbon emissions, and enhance safety for ship operations,” said Mr David Foo, Assistant Chief Executive (Operations Technology), MPA.

“Balancing environmental sustainability with economic demands is crucial for a prosperous, equitable, and resilient future for the maritime industry,” said Elsie Tan, Singapore Country Manager, Worldwide Public Sector, AWS. “MPA’s adoption of AI and ML to combat climate change, skills development programs to help industry workers prepare for an AI-powered workplace, and participation in the AWS Activate program to uplift the maritime startup community underscores its pivotal role in safeguarding Singapore's competitiveness. AWS will continue to collaborate with MPA to harness their momentum in the cloud to unlock new innovations.”