The grand Suez Canal in Egypt has been blocked by one of the world’s largest shipping containers this week. In an extraordinary (almost) turn of events, the ship has been caught in the side of the canal as it tried to turn around.
The news is not good for the global shipping industry which runs around 10 percent of its trade via the canal. As a result, the waterway is one of Egypt’s top earners in foreign currency, and one the country has invested in much over the years. The most recent investment in the canal’s structure by Egypt was in 2015 when the government of Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi authorised a substantial expansion in the canal’s width to allow for it to accommodate larger vessels – like the one currently stuck.
The Suez Canal provides one of the only direct routes from East to West and vice versa for trade shipping. The canal has been a crucial link in the global industries for natural gas, oil and shipping containers since it opened in 1869. The stuck ship comes only as the latest disruption to these international trades that have been already severely affected over the past year due to the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
The stuck ship is called the MV Ever Given and originated from Panama. It often carries trade between Europe and Asia via shipping container and is considered one of the world’s largest. The humongous container ship was grounded on Tuesday of last week, blocking traffic along the waterway ever since.
The ship was trying to turn sideways in the canal although the reasons for why have remained a mystery to the Suez Canal Authority. The boat suffered a ‘blackout’ whilst in transit but the logistics company in charge of the ship have declined further comment. As of Saturday 27th March 2021 the ship remains blocking trade via the canal.
An online tech company, Better Examinations, has seen a massive boost in their profile and usage this exam season. The company hosts software that has enabled thousands of students in Australia and around the world to take examinations at home. The site, Better Examinations, is desirable for educational institutions as it allows multiple students to be monitored taking the test at the same time. All students require in order to join the examination is a stable internet connection and laptop or desktop connected to a webcam. The slightly Foucauldian-esque eye of the webcam and knowledge of the student that they are being watched are thought controls enough to prevent any unusual increase in test cheating.
How does it work?
The software uses an advanced form of artificial intelligence called machine learning, or ML, to keep watch for patterns in participants’ behaviours that could suggest cheating. Before the exam, facial recognition software is used to ensure the identity of the candidate is correct. During the exam, the software temporarily disables or fully restricts access to the internet, as well as any specified applications on an individual’s computer. The software also contains technology that allows it to mark the answers to multiple choice and Mathematics exams automatically.
A boost from the coronavirus
With millions of students at home from the ongoing coronavirus global pandemic, the company saw a much increased demand in their services in April and May this year. Piero Tintori who runs the company said: “We had 60 organisations from all over the world contact us out of the blue, who wanted to run exams online in May and June.” The demand, he went on to describe has been “everything from universities, to professional organisations, to schools”, and even five country’s governments that he declined to name. With the dreaded second wave occurring current across North America and Europe especially, it’s likely the company’s good fortune will continue.