The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) will be developing an indigenous Vessel Traffic Management Software and hardware that is used in ports. Currently, Indian ports use foreign options for fulfilling the same purpose, thus leading to higher costs.
A Memorandum of Understanding between IIT-M and the VO Chidambaranar (VOC) Port Trust in Tuticorin was signed for this software development project. Led by the National Technology Center for Ports Waterways and Coasts (NTCPWC), a centre of excellence at IIT Madras, this project is in line with Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) and Digital India. The present VTS at VOC Port has been operational for nearly seven years. Given the rapid increases in maritime traffic in India and abroad, a more VTS effective system would help create higher safety levels.
According to T.K. Ramachandran, IAS, Chairman, VOC Port Trust, Tuticorin, theirs is the first major Indian port to sign an MoU with NTCPWC for indigenous software development. He said this home-grown alternative would be a game-changer in Indian Maritime Industry.
WION spoke to K. Murali, Professor In-charge, NTCPWC-IIT Madras, to understand the advantages of this project and its larger significance in comparison with foreign options.
According to him, when buying from foreign companies, they offer very expensive, complete hardware-software packages, whose internal workings are not known to the user. Whereas, in the case of indigenous development, the software can be developed here and upgrade of hardware can be done based on in-house experts recommendation. The hardware so required is meant to be directly procured by the ports, thus working out to be 50 per cent cheaper.
“Though ours is a maiden initiative, the software is expected to be ready in less than a year. Our software will be developed using open architecture. It will be flexible and interoperable, which means it can be integrated with other existing systems that ports use for daily operations,” Prof. Murali told WION.
In a positive step for this home-grown initiative, it is said that talks are on with more Indian ports to adopt this software. There is also no limit to the number of vessels this indigenous software can manage, as this capability can be scaled up on the hardware side.