The multitude of existing public and commercial maritime services poses a challenge for the associated data transfer and information exchange. Data related to navigation warnings, charts, navigation aids, weather forecasts, route planning, port services, and other services are transmitted from ship to ship or from shore station to shore station as well as between ship and shore station. Due to a variety of proprietary data models or protocols, data transfer can often be incompatible or contradictory. In addition, cyber security plays an important role because sensitive data and information is used in old, insecure protocols, making them easier targets for cyber-attacks.
Shipping is moving in a digital direction, so the demand for innovative digital technologies and services related to e-navigation is constantly growing. e-Navigation is a strategy developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to support shipping by improving data exchange and communication between ships and shore stations. Basic services such as GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) are available to all parties involved. In addition, independent commercial service providers offer the possibility to use special applications. All this is currently often based on different technologies, protocols and data models. In order to achieve harmonized data models and communication protocols, it is necessary to improve, simplify and above all secure the development of new services and the further development of existing services. This can be achieved through standardization.
Standardized data models and protocols thus ensure that existing communications are secured against cyber threats, messages are authenticated, and sensitive data is encrypted. This will enable completely new applications of maritime technologies (e. g. in MASS) with new requirements for safety, efficiency and interoperability. OFFIS seizes the opportunity and supports different maritime actors with new technologies and maritime services. It requires a consensus on operational approaches and technical realizations as well as a standardized infrastructure that supports as many services as possible.
Standardization activities focus on the S-100 standard, a framework of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) for the development of standardized data models for the maritime sector. OFFIS works in different areas, especially in connection with secure web services. Within the standardization activities there is a close cooperation between OFFIS and the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and other maritime actors.