The design and application of an integrated ship control system cannot be removed from the specification, design, construction and operation of the ship itself; the system needs to be interactively customised for each specific type and size of vessel, and its owner and operator. Hence, its application starts very early in the ship design process. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office' />
Assessment of typical user tasks to be carried out on board also needs to be addressed.
The DISC Project, which was completed in the early part of 1997, is directed towards the long term objective of establishing and implementing an open European (and subsequently worldwide) standard for integrated ship control systems which addresses hardware, software and human factors in maritime transport. The immediate objective is twofold.
- The establishment of a basic European/international integrated ship control standard, including the identification of suitable technologies and operational, safety and efficiency-improving functions to be adopted by the standard.
- The establishment of the minimum requirements for the feasibility demonstration and validation of the core technologies involved in the suggested standard, and their integration into one coherent system.
A major benefit of DISC resides in the flexibility of the standard, and hence in the systems that comply to it. In the ever changing world of shipping it must be foreseen that the initial requirements will change over time, as will the capabilities of the crew of the vessel, and very likely also the operational profile of the vessel.
The DISC Project is concerned with much more than the foundation for an information technology standard. It is also a framework for the application of a user-centred design approach to ship command and control, and includes comprehensive requirements for the verification and validation of the ship control centre layout and functionality.
The application of integrated ship control systems commences at the early design stages of the ship. In addition, user requirements and then system requirements for the integrated ship control system will be specified. The process continues with the preparation of the systems design specification.
DISC has established the foundation for a single, open European standard
for Integrated Ship Control. DISC has also devised a framework for the
application of the User-Centred Design Approach to command and control of
ships. This includes comprehensive requirements for the verification and
validation of the ship control centre layout and functions, which form an
integral part of the standard. The main implication of this is that the
application of DISC cannot be removed from the specification, design,
construction and operation of the ship itself - DISC needs to be
interactively customised for each specific type and size of vessel, and
its owner and operator.
The project has provided the ISC concept that should create the basic foundation for a future open European standard for ship control. But the ISC concept is not just an IT (information technology) standard: it spans much wider and is expected to have an operational impact in parallel to the obvious impact on the manufacturers of electronics and automation.
DISC also supports the development of the Common Transport Policy, since the establishment of a ISC standard has great potential for a positive impact on the shipping industry as a whole.
The immediate project follow-up towards the longer-term target of introducing the ISC-DISC standard at European and international level is the EC project DISC II, which will provide demonstrations of the commercial viability of the concept, the benefits to industry and the technical feasibility.