For an industry steeped in history, shipping has a pressing need to stay ahead in the computer age. From countries tracking the whereabouts of ships in their waters to vessels plotting the courses of other ships to avoid collisions, IT plays an ever more central role in the developments of maritime business. Shipping harnessed the network of global satellites decades ago, channelling communications and using digital positioning to chart precise locations. At a more local level, computers with specialist software written for the shipping industry can help plan new ports and terminals, optimise operations, manage supply chains logistics, reduce ship turn-round times and much more. Online developments have also dramatically altered the face of the maritime industry, with the dot.com boom of the nineties introducing online ship brokering possibilities, ship auctions, increased information sharing and other previously unexplored promise.