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A Reference System Architecture and Technology Platform for the Shipping Sector


The aim of the ARETOPS project is to create a shipping sector specific reference architecture and to use it for the development of an open technology platform supporting the integration of key IST services/applications for the shipping industry. A strong user group will guide the proposed research and development work programme and results will be deployed and evaluated in six pilots. The outcome will be shared in the public interest and policy recommendations will be made.

ARETOPS aims to facilitate e-business solutions in the shipping sector. It will form the basis for an automated system linking information providers for navigational use and ship management, and data from ship controls systems to the integrated ship-office computer. The project will develop a Reference System Architecture and an Integration Platform. The Reference System Architecture will be broad enough to support strategic tactical and operational shipping processes. It will cover all the shipboard systems including integrated navigation and engine monitoring and control and it is flexible to accommodate future business requirements. The Integration Platform will consist of a core integration component and three standard interfaces, i.e. the Shipping Applications Interface, the Ship Sensors Interface and the Shipping Information services Interface.

Work description:
The project will start by reviewing the requirements for quality and efficiency in shipping processes and consequently the integration/ interoperability requirements for shipping IT systems. A Shipping Reference Architecture will be designed to meet these requirements. The project will prototype an integration platform to realise the reference architecture and demonstrate the integration of selected applications (both shipboard and shore-based) and external services (electronic navigation charts, weather information, regulatory updates etc) to the platform. Towards the end of the project there is an evaluation phase of the ARETOPS results and assess the benefits of the approach through a major pilot and five smaller ones. As the end result the project will improve the ARETOPS architecture and platform based on findings from the pilots and feedback from other shipping users and initiate standardisation. The project has an extensive dissemination programme to present its results.

Despite a clear understanding of the strong need for IST standardisation and the present trend in this direction, in shipping, solutions have only been developed and applied in low-level activities for ship monitoring and control. Architectures, standards and protocols such as those developed by the projects MiTS, ATOMOS, ISIT and finally PISCES should allow the development of fully integrated ship control systems, covering in a uniform and consistent way most of ship monitoring and control tasks. At a higher level, the interconnection with management computers and applications has been addressed by the project DISC II, while COMMAN is dealing with ship-shore communications. So far the only concrete effort for integration of applications in an open technology platform has been performed by the project IDES (ISM driven Data Exchange for Ship operation) which has proposed an ISM/ISO compliant shipping reference model providing the integration framework for a shipping information and communication system. Building on the results from IDES, ARETOPS is now aiming at producing a more generic shipping reference system architecture addressing ship and office management applications, ship monitoring and control systems, and external information services.

Key developments will include:
definition and standardisation of information interchange between shipping applications (e.g. planned maintenance, crewing, loading, chartering);
specification of key ship monitoring parameters and their associated sensors and processing requirements (e.g. validation, aggregation, data fusion, analysis, predictions, and interaction with management applications);
protocols to interface ship sensory systems, distributing the information and interfacing on-board sub-systems;
interfacing to various communication services and applications;
standard interfacing facilities to external information services (e.g. Electronic Navigation Charts, weather services, classification information).

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United Kingdom

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Participants (9)