Interview with Viktor Vyshnyov, Deputy Head of the State Service of Maritime Inland Water Transport and Shipping of Ukraine for Digital Development, Digital Transformations and Digitalization (CDTO).

Viktor Vyshnyov – Deputy Head of the State Service of Maritime Inland Water Transport and Shipping of Ukraine for Digital Development, Digital Transformations and Digitalization (CDTO).

Interview with Viktor Vyshnyov, Deputy Head of the State Service of Maritime Inland Water Transport and Shipping of Ukraine for Digital Development, Digital Transformations and Digitalization (CDTO).

What is the idea and strategy behind the digitization of the marine inland water transportation and shipping service of Ukraine?

Well, when I came to the position of CDTO  I had a particular  vision as to how to reform our service. From the very beginning, I saw a standard set of information systems in the format of electronic document management and accounting programs. There were various plans for digitization, but there was no de facto coherent understanding.  I began to consult on a public basis and share my vision regarding work in the organization.

We now understand that all databases must be digitized so, the function  of our service has  two directions:

– administrative services. Everything related to the fleet, drivers of small water transport vehicles, sailors

– control and supervision of shipping safety. This is already a large fleet, ports, and everything related to security, overloading, and accident avoidance.

On the one hand, it is digitalization, from the point of view of creating a single information system of the shipping administration, which would contain all the databases for the provision of administrative services to speed up the whole process. Presently, all these services are still conducted in paper form.

On the other hand, it is the process of using digital tools to implement control measures. That is, it is the video recording of violations, and  of processes, starting from the passing of driving tests and ending with the recording of our inspectors’ outings on the water, where they undertake inspections large fleets of vessels.

We also have two strategic institutions. The first is the State Hydrography Institute, which is responsible for navigation and hydrographic support of all sea and river routes (management of lighthouses, buoys, and cartography).

The second is the Shipping Register of Ukraine. This is the body  responsible for the technical supervision of small and large fleets. Here, we  start with the digitization of databases of the technical condition of the fleet and finish with the creation of 3D models of hydro-technical structures and the use of underwater drones.

Today, we have plans  for the use of underwater drones for demining the waterways of Ukraine. A huge volume of water surface, sea and river bottom will have to be demined later. This will require colossal funds and we cannot do without innovative technologies. Because serious economic processes are tied to the maritime complex. The export of Ukrainian products, grain, metallurgy, etc.

What should the future desired state of water management look like from the point of view of digitalization? You have listed certain areas that need to be worked on. How long will it take to implement your plans ?

Digitization of databases was to be completed this year, but full digitization of e-services will  not be completed till  the end of 2023. This being  the most realistic  timeframe,  and we will present something before the end of the war. Digitization of control supervision processes is also in sight  and we plan to develop a longer-term  2-3 year program to create 3D models for the formation of a model of sea transportation.

Are there any benchmarks you aspire to in terms of water management? Is it  possible to fulfill a role, its main function? Are you looking at the examples of our partners, or are you creating your own vision?

We  have to create  our own vision. It is not always necessary to focus on the work of our international  colleagues. There was an example from a previous project  when BlockChain was implemented, a delegation came from Estonia . This country is a leader in the implementation of digital technologies in the public sector, and they were surprised that we had already implemented blockchain auction services when in Estonia such a system was only planned to be launched  2 years later. Therefore, it is not always necessary to  follow  the  experience of others.

We would like to achieve complete digitization of the provision of administrative services. The sphere is narrow, but the water, transport and shipping sector of the Ukrainian economy depends significantly on it. We are currently engaged in a project to provide supporting documents for seafarers so that they can go abroad for flights as employees engaged in  critical infrastructure, as,  due to the closed sea, 150 thousand sailors currently remained unemployed . Considering that wages in this sector of the economy average $5,000 per month, imagine  just how much Ukraine is losing  in revenues because of  the war. We hope that our work will help Ukrainian seafarers  to regain their place in the world labor market,  it’s important because Ukraine ranks #5-6 in terms of the number of sailors employed in the world.

Talking with Mykhailo Fedorov, he noted that Ukraine should make all state services digital by 2023. Is this realistic ?

Even during wartime, we understand that this is an absolute reality. The team of the Ministry of Digitization is not detached from reality in its plans, it is  implementing  a strategic vision.

For example, the Ministry of Digitization is currently planning to significantly reduce the costs of the administration of information systems in our country  by optimizing and centralizing purchases at a specific  entity,  under the control of the Ministry of Digital Transformation.

The more we digitalize, the more vulnerable we become in the virtual world . How do you solve this issue?

Today, the role of information security will grow significantly. In conditions of austerity, databases that are stored in electronic form have the maximum level of security. We are grateful to our European partners for the opportunity to place our information systems in European data centers.

The permission given  to us to use foreign information resources has made our work a lot easier. We now have protection against DDos attacks and,  by the way, the first DDos attack on the service’s resources was when opening confirmations of receipt of documents from sailors. The russians probably worry a lot about our sailors.

Do you have a cyber security strategy that  goes hand in hand with the development of digitalization?

We are working on a cyber security strategy. Threats in cyberspace are constantly changing, but I believe  it is impossible to finalize a  cyber security strategy soon.

It will be formed in parallel with the development of the information systems of the Shipping Administration, taking into account potential vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity is a number one priority for  critical infrastructure facilities and we understand the implications of potential database attacks.

What strategic steps should be taken in the near future?

In the near future – the formation and launch of registers, which were supposed to be launched this year.   The vision is to fully automate the processes of supervision and control to ensure theprovision of administrative services in the organization. At the same time, we are going to apply a set of measures and mechanisms to ensure the information security of all operations with these databases.

What key alliances do you see as necessary to ensure digitization? With whom and why?

At  the first level – we came to the decision that we can do some things ourselves. Previously, everything was outsourced. Recently, we launched two products that we developed independently.

The second level is outsourcing. Communication with the best companies operating in  the Ukrainian market for writing quality products, and basic registers. As for visionary things, such as the use of underwater drones, the formation of 3D models of the movement of ships, and the use of BlockChain technologies for cargo tracking, there is no need to be afraid to experiment and enter into partnerships with foreign companies. We actively cooperate with EMSA (European Maritime Security Agency) in this direction and we are always open to everything new. I am sure that after our victory, Ukraine will be a destination  for the use of modern equipment  to test the best examples of recovery technologies here.

Therefore, my advice for CDTOs is not to be afraid to experiment, to take on the  responsibility for innovation and be ready to be open to the new.

That is why the position of CDTO was created, to bring elements of innovation to the Ukrainian economy and strive to   build a digital state.