Ports of Auckland goes digital with revolutionary app

Ports of Auckland is introducing a revolutionary app to help pilot ships into the harbour.

The app will replace handwritten documents and spreadsheets to improve safety and streamline communication with ship captains.

It's the first fully digital piloting solution of its kind in Australasia and one of the first of its kind in the world.

Gone will be the centuries-old scene of the Ports of Auckland pilot physically boarding incoming boats while clutching vital paperwork.

That task - known as Master-Pilot Exchange - is made a whole lot simpler by the app.

"What we've done is take it away from the bit of paper that's historically been used, onto an online tool that can be used in a pre-planning mode days, possibly even weeks out from the vessel arriving," says senior pilot John Barker.

The paperwork holds a huge array of data on a spreadsheet, which is printed to be presented to a ship's captain.

With the app, that entire process is done remotely, meaning ship captains can access the information without having to wait for pilots to arrive.

"A ship can sit in the middle of the ocean in transit out of Auckland, look at the application, look at the clearances, look at the safety margins, look at its timing for arrival and have the information it needs," says Mr Barker.

One of the biggest difficulties the port faces is around tidal calculations and determining if a ship is safe to dock at a given time - that will now be electronic and instantaneous.

The app takes away any room for human error - everything is documented and archived, meaning the pilot and the captain are a whole lot safer.

It still needs some refining but has already shaved hours off ancient maritime processes.