Interconnectivity, artificial intelligence, cyber resilience – how technology empowers leading ports

chainPORT, the multilateral partnership of the world leading ports, has just concluded its 5th Annual Meeting which was hosted on September 16th and 17th by the Port of Montreal.

Artificial intelligence in ports

Presidents, CIOs and head strategists of 11 world class ports gathered to continue to close the collaboration of recent years.

While welcoming delegates to the event, Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority, said: “After participating in the chainPORT Hackathon and hosting the chainPORT Academy last year, we are very proud to host the 5th edition of the Annual General Meeting. We see our membership into chainPORT as significant in facilitating and accelerating our digital transformation by tapping into a very rich pool of knowledge and expertise.”

Montreal was in fact well positioned to hold such discussions, with its stated ambition to become a global hub in artificial intelligence. While the overarching theme of the meeting was ‘innovation ecosystems’, Vachon continued by saying: “we are confident that by the end of the event, delegates got a true sense of what makes Montreal a unique model and a true North American leader in innovation.”

In Montreal, the discussions were centred around the need for supply chains to become more predictable in serving customers. The insights from invited key international cargo interests confirmed that deliverables under chainPORT must align with expectations of cargo owners and port users as the manufacturing industry simultaneously undergoes digital transformation.

Gene Seroka, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles further emphasised: “Faced with increasing trade headwinds, our customers more than ever look at ports for answers. With its spirit of collaboration, chainPORT comes as a timely solution to deepen coordination with the aim of making the supply chain more transparent and reliable.”

Thinking ahead: joint coordination needed to increase cyber resilience.

Following several high profiled cyber-attacks in the industry in recent years, chainPORT partners showcased results of joint efforts during the meeting and decided to deepen their collaboration in this field. After the meeting Jens Meier, CEO of the Hamburg Port Authority, said: “In terms of cyber security, over the last year chainPORT helped galvanize our efforts and it is precisely in this global challenge that we can greatly benefit from our joint know-how.”

Make Ports Smarter – chainPORT explores possibilities in artificial intelligence

A top priority on this year’s agenda was accelerating the smart adoption of artificial intelligence in the port sector. The technology holds tremendous potential to further optimise processes and increase efficiency in ports.

This was supported by an exchange of the chainPORT representatives with Professor Yoshua Bengio, one of the world’s leading and most sought-after researchers in the field of artificial intelligence and deep learning. During a visit at the O-Mile-X, North America’s largest artificial intelligence lab, Dr. Bengio elaborated in practical terms how artificial intelligence can advance the collective innovation agenda of the maritime industry in tackling complex logistical problems.

With Port Authorities being largely responsible for facilitating the adoption of emerging technologies, Professor Bengio’s intervention was inspiring and critical in bringing a balanced view bridging social, ethical and technological aspects of artificial intelligence. “The insights of Yoshua Bengio illustrated the hitherto barely used possibilities of artificial intelligence”, said Jens Meier. “However, as Port Authorities we must reasonably and responsibly adopt this technology to thrive in the digital era.”