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Belgian Colleagues Seek Increased Collaboration

During the Digital Twin / VR demonstration at the Norwegian Coastal Adminstration

Today, a delegation from Belgian maritime authorities visited the Norwegian Coastal Administration in Ålesund. The Flemish Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services sought to learn more about how the Norwegian Coastal Administration fulfils its societal mission and they had valuable experiences to share with us.

"Responsibilities and tasks are distributed differently in different countries, but there is much to be gained from exchanging information and experiences," commentsArve Dimmen, head of the Navigation Technology and Maritime Services (NT) department at the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA).
"We have a long and good collaboration within VTS, and are now looking at expanding this to more professional fields."

The visiting delegation represented the sister agency, which collectively handles pilotage services, vessel traffic management services, flood protection, search and rescue, passenger transport at sea, maritime cybersecurity, drone technology for hydrographic surveying, and initiatives for transitioning to green shipping.

The Belgian professionals were greeted by a group of NCA employees who briefed them on the agency's responsibilities and tasks. They heard about how vessel traffic management services utilize sensors, e-navigation, and artificial intelligence. They also gained insight into our use of "virtual reality in digital twinning" of Norwegian waters—a tool that allows pilots and other navigators to simulate situations for planning, training and learning.

"The innovation demonstrated by the Norwegian Coastal Administration in this field was impressive," said Nathalie Balcaen, CEO of the Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services. "It was eye-opening to see how much different data can be combined and the gains and opportunities this may offer. We will definetely incorporate this into our work; for example, in developing internal training for navigators."

The visitors asked numerous questions and had the opportunity to try out the VR feature. Our Flemish colleagues also received introductions to our pilotage services, our extensive work in managing Norwegian coastal and marine areas, and our efforts to promote greener shipping in our own fleet and for vessels in Norwegian waters.

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The visit to the NCA in Ålesund was part of a study trip to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The delegation also included representatives from the Flanders Chancellery and Foreign Office, specifically focused on Nordic cooperations.

There are already existing ties and collaboration between the Norwegian Coastal Administration and Flemish/Belgian maritime authorities. However, the visit provided a good opportunity to discuss potential paths for closer collaboration and more professional exchange in the future.

"We appreciate making new acquaintances and forging new connections for collaboration, and we thank our Flemish colleagues for visiting," said Coastal Director Einar Vik Arset.

"We will definitely discuss avenues for further cooperation, delve deeper into opportunities in drone use, digital simulation tools, and vessel traffic management work. So, even though the coastline and maritime traffic in Belgium and Norway look very different, there is much to gain from exchanging knowledge and experiences."

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