Navigating the future of our industry has never been more interesting

Classification Societies, Insight — By on February 23, 2018 at 1:23 PM

Joanna Pohorski,  Lloyd’s Register, Marine & Offshore Area Manager, UK & Ireland

It has always been a privilege for me to be able to work in an industry whose purpose is to safeguard the safety of people, assets and the environment, while continuously striving to add value to our clients’ businesses and to demonstrate that these are not opposing objectives. Over the last few years the combination of the negative cycles in the oil and gas and in the shipping industry has put both under an immense price pressure. This has led to huge efforts to optimise the assurance process related to both the assets and also the backoffice processes. This is not only related to efficiencies but fundamental innovation and how we assure “the unknown”.

Assuring novel technologies poses a number of challenges. After all, how can we know that something is safe if it has never been done or deployed before? – The application of first principles is key, as is the definition of the principles of how to apply them consistently. We have defined this in the now widely used Technology Qualification approach.

The advance of blockchain technologies is putting a whole new spotlight on the traditional assurance business model. Most people associate the rapid advance of blockchain with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Over the last year, however, an increasing number of banks and financial institutions have started to view blockchain as less of a risk and more of an opportunity and acknowledge its power and increasing reach through participation in a number of projects. Blockchain is now being also deployed to other areas of life such as assuring Curriculum Vitae and we will, without a doubt, see more applications in the coming years, with supply chains being an obvious focus area.

A key question we should be asking ourselves within our industry is what engineering challenges can distributed ledger and blockchain technologies address? These possibilities reach from supply chain traceability and provenance or secure sharing and logging of data in applications such as smart energy supplies to the digital identification of people. In each of these areas there is an increasing number of questions being asked about the appropriate level and source of standardisation and governance. Furthermore, we recognise in the report recently published by The Alan Turing Institute and the LR Foundation that with such challenges come new skills and training requirements.

Whatever else the future might bring, it is safe to say that while innovation moves at an ever increasing pace it opens new safety and security challenges and we need appropriate instruments to make sure that not only us but also our families and future generations live safe and secure lives.

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