Yesterday I was honored to have the opportunity to testify before the US House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. The purpose of the hearing was to focus on new ocean technologies, how these technologies can improve government performance, and any impediments that exist in the use of these technologies. As Chairman Duncan Hunter’s office said in a press release announcing the hearing, understanding and monitoring our oceans and how they are being used is vital to our national defense, the safety of marine transportation, and to the protection and use of the natural resources contained in these areas. The Coast Guard and other federal agencies must rely on ocean observation and maritime domain awareness (MDA) technologies in order to make the most efficient use of valuable vessel, aircraft and crew time. Yesterday’s hearing examined developments in these areas from private companies and academic institutions, and the potential impacts of federal regulatory regimes on the use of these commercial technologies.
These are topics about which PortVision is uniquely positioned to offer important insights and perspective. Our commercial and government customers use our services and data to improve many types of operations, whether it be scheduling of vessels at an oil refinery, supporting an incident response operation, providing post-mortem compliance, legal, or training support, or supporting homeland security and law enforcement activities.
There are over 3,000 PortVision users including vessel operators, marine terminals, government agencies, and every major oil company. Based on our experience with this broad user base, I shared with the subcommittee our observation that current government systems appear to be good at collecting and displaying real-time data, but not necessarily in aggregating and making it broadly accessible to government field personnel who must clearly understand waterway utilization in order to carry out their mission objectives.
For instance, whereas a system like the Coast Guard’s Nationwide AIS (“NAIS”) initiative is primarily focused on AIS data acquisition for use in VTS and related operational environments, PortVision is focused on analysis and harvesting of that data to drive business intelligence that improves visibility, efficiency and decision-making in the maritime domain. This includes providing MDA support to mobile users who are not in centralized command centers with sophisticated COP-oriented systems. As part of my testimony, I also sought the subcommittee’s support in encouraging federal agencies to look to the commercial sector to help execute their MDA initiatives. Many of our PortVision field users in the commercial sector have the benefit of commercial tools like PortVision to support their mission, while frequently, Coast Guard, Army Corps, and other government field personnel do not have the benefit of such tools.
After the congressional hearing, Michael Jones from The Maritime Alliance moderated a lunch session titled “Promoting the BlueTech Sector in the U.S.” This roundtable gathering included myself and other morning subcommittee witnesses, as well as personnel from NOAA, NAVSEA, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Congressman Hunter’s office. Jason Tieman, PortVision’s Director of Maritime Operations, was also an active participant in the discussions. The afternoon gave us all an opportunity do some collaborative brainstorming about how best to advance the BlueTech sector, including what we should ask of our legislators to further our individual and aggregate mission within the maritime industry.
A special thank you to Congressman Hunter for his unwavering support of our industry, and his personal support and guidance as PortVision navigates the US government landscape with our products and services.
You can view the subcommittee hearing below.