Within the maritime industry, regardless to what you are transporting, passengers or product, the realities are the same. Safety,  security, and environmental compliance is  a top priority for everyone, as an incident impacts the bottom line.

The risks are high, the liabilities are huge, the impacts of environmental accidents, violent acts against a guest and staff, or a terrorist attack is far reaching. With the creation of social media, came a world in which our ability to keep an incident under wraps has been eliminated. In a matter of seconds a picture or comment can go viral and before we know it the world associates that incident with our brand. Today’s consumer is more conscious than ever before on where they spend their money, if they don’t feel safe or disagree with your operating practices they will spend their money with the competition, an organization that aligns with their views and beliefs. Not only are we faced with paying for damages, but we are opening the door to legal action and loss of market share.

To complicate matters, during each journey the ship will travel through various regions where regulations are closely monitored and enforced.  With each region establishing or adjusting its own set of regulations across safety, security, and compliance as they see fit. Take for example, the Liberia Maritime Authority said ….Advance Notice of Arrival is now required for vessels calling on ports in Australia, China, Europe and  the USA, which helps to ensure compliance and report problems.  This is a discussion that impacts every facet of the ship’s operation, without the required certificate of compliance, the ship can’t operate.

According to an Executive Profile of Stein Kruse, the Group CEO of the Holland America Group and Carnival UK, compliance and risk management is top of mind.

Within the interview Kruse explained: “Given the seriousness and visibility of (environmental) compliance, I wanted to have a direct line of sight so compliance reports directly to me.” He went on to explain: “We have to be compliant, but being compliant is just meeting standards. At the corporate level we want to move to a higher level where the entire organization, all 120,000 people are committed to always being ready and prepared, able to deal with issues we face day in and day out, that we are operating on a higher plane if you will.”

Risk management is another topic he highlights. “We live with risk;  risk is in our business,” Kruse said. “Our job is to minimize it, reduce it and mitigate it. It goes to the issue of prevention. To reduce risk, you need to prevent it from happening in the first place. But if it does happen, you need to quickly detect it and then fight and suppress it. It comes down to protection, detection and suppression.”

Risk Management and Compliance Procedures: Opportunities For Improvement

We have detailed policies and procedures outlining what needs to be done to adhere to requirements. We have teams in place to complete the responsibilities. We track our progress in detailed log books to ensure compliance but is there a better way? While many ships have a clear understanding of what needs to be done they are still reliant on outdated procedures limiting the crews ability to successfully coordinate, execute and validate that all the required tactics were completed on schedule. As regulations and requirements continue to evolve, the way we execute on those requirements will need to transform to keep pace.

Fire Patrol: Lessons Learned

Just like managing fire patrol, managing all the other aspects of safety, security and compliance is complex. The volume of things, situations and people that must be coordinated and monitored to meet the requirements outlined by the authorities in each region is large and complex. Each requirement drives a different set of actions involving a different set of teams based on a different timeline.

To manage fire patrol requirements, many ships within the cruise industry have implemented technology that enables them to report on compliance.

They have proactively designed detailed fire patrol routes around the regulatory requirements and invested in the technology which enables them to digitally record a crew members execution of each route. In many cases the technology behind these solutions consists of either an application integrated with the onboard telephone system or a wand based solution.

With both solutions the ship has the ability to demonstrate compliance with historical reporting.

For those using the applications integrated with the phone system, they require a telephone deployed at each checkpoint. As the cost of the phones can be fairly significant it is cost prohibitive to have a large number of checkpoints.  Also when a crew member encounters an issue while on route there are limited means for communicating, reporting and escalating the issue.

For those using a wand based system, while you can more cost effectively monitor more locations across the ship, status updates are only available when the wand is docked and the data is uploaded.  The lack of real-time information can dramatically increase response time, robbing us of the critical moments where a rapid response could have avoided an escalation. Also the reporting of incidents are limited to a set of predefined high level categories, making it difficult to ensure the appropriate follow-up action is requested.

So, the question becomes, can the concept of checkpoints used in fire patrol, be applied to the other procedures we need to monitor and report on to prove compliance?

If we are limited to the current solutions, the answer is no, as they don’t have the scale or flexibility required.

But, if we are open to alternatives, then the answer is yes! Advancements in technology now enable us to cost effectively digitize a detailed risk management plan, so we can enforce and monitor adherence in real-time, and improve response time to incidents for reduced liability and proven compliance.

Advancement in Technology, Look What’s Possible

By leveraging the latest enhancements with mobile phones, RFID, QR codes and virtualization, operators can now create, monitor and report on detailed work plans across all aspects of safety, security and compliance  strategy from routes, to shut down procedures, emergency action plans, equipment quality checks, special events, etc.

To understand the opportunity we need to first understand what has changed with the technology that is making this a possibility and a valuable alternative worth consideration. RFID is not new, we use it daily, from our employee badges to our bank cards, for ‘tap’. In these examples we bring the RFID tag to the reader.  The reader is dedicated to the specific task and expensive. Limiting use cases and return on investment.

RFID technology is now generally available opening up the door to new and innovative use cases previously not possible due to the cost and complexity. Today RFID tags are available in a variety of formats so they can be placed anywhere: stickers, magnets, pins, bracelets, paper based, or waterproof. They can also be easily customized to adhere to brand requirement and are as affordable as dollars per tag. Now you can place an RFID tag at any potential check-point that must be monitored as outlined in the policies and procedures.

The other big shift to keep in consideration is the integration with the mobile device, which eliminates the requirement for an expensive and sometimes custom reader. In 2017 Apple introduced iOS 11, which can allow third party applications to effectively read generic NFC/RFID tags. Now, not only can that device become an extension off the ship’s phone system, but can now  be used to monitor execution and compliance.

A Proactive Approach to Prevention: To reduce risk is to protect, detect and suppress.

As you consider your risk management strategy think about the value of empowering your teams with the tools necessary to ensure they deliver on expectations as defined by leaders such as Kruse.

Look across your operation and identify all the procedures that must be adhered to, to help minimize, reduce and mitigate risk. Combine the power of RFID and mobile applications to implement a risk management strategy that will help detect and suppress issues which could negatively impact your brand or ability to operate.  By automating we help ensure all tactics and procedures are completed as planned. By integrating RFID and mobile technology we can now:

  • Build a route around every policy/procedure defined by the authorities
  • Place an RFID tag or QR code at any item that needs to inspected, tested or maintained.
  • Leverage the power of mobile to monitor execution:
    • Check in as they arrive at each checkpoint.
    • Report incidents in real-time with photos and description
  • Monitor adherence in real-time to ensure the task is completed as outlined  and automatically alerts management when out of adherence.
  • Run detailed historical reports to demonstrate compliance.


By Rebecca Wormleighton,VP of Sales and Marketing, Zendelity


The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.


About Rebecca Wormleighton

A Senior Marketing leader with over 25 years’ experience, a strategic thinker with entrepreneurial drive, and passion.  Rebecca has extensive experience in hospitality, communications, customer experience and enterprise product marketing/product management. Rebecca is currently responsible for leading Zendelity’s sales and marketing strategy. Prior to this Rebecca was responsible for leading Mitel’s Enterprise Marketing strategy and team. Formerly at companies such as IBM and Quest Software Rebecca’s experience includes ownership of a business unit for a large enterprise segment, identifying and championing new market and product opportunities, presenting as a thought leader at industry events, business development and extensive experience in managing a comprehensive Marketing Communications program.