Port digitalization and an open data model for ports

  • < Back
  • project
  • Recent
  • Publications

Finland’s remote location increases logistics costs for our industry, which is why digitalization is being harnessed to improve efficiency, including in ports. Fully automated cargo processing is not yet realistic, however, given our relatively small cargo flows. Against this backdrop, we must identify digital solutions that allow Finnish ports to streamline their processes as well as improve performance, work safety and comfort.

The DigiPort project aims to generate new research data on port digitalization and endow ports with an operational model based on open data. Using open data, ports can participate in the digitalization trend in a concrete manner, without the need for massive investments. Digitalization progresses in small steps by opening up data which, while already public, is not yet in the form of open data from a technical perspective.

The Mobility as a Service (MaaS) concept is gaining ground also in the cargo logistics sector. The view of traffic policy is that in future, transport modes such as ports must provide data openly for the needs of the entire traffic system. The DigiPort project is doing its part in easing this transition.

New research data to support anticipation and decision-making

We are, firstly, mapping the ways in which data and digital technologies are currently being used in Finnish ports and looking into the reactions digitalization arouses. Data is being collected through a literature review, expert interviews, surveys of ports, an examination of systems currently in use, and workshops organized in Kotka and Turku.

The next phase sees the development of future scenarios, which allow us to gauge the impact on ports of digitalization in traffic, logistics and society at large. We will also be analyzing ways in which the use of data and digital technologies could be increased.

Developing an operational model based on open data for ports

Open data is free, public, digital information in a machine-readable form. DigiPort seeks to develop an operational model which ports can use to publish selected information on their infrastructure as open data. By combining various open and private data sets, it is possible to create new innovations, services and business opportunities for ports.

In collaboration with the project’s pilot ports of HaminaKotka and Turku, we are identifying opportunities and methods for opening infrastructure data. Technical data is already available online on ports’ infrastructures, i.e. their road, rail and waterways, buildings, zones, networks etc. It is only after publication as open data that ports gain control of the validity of the data. With metadata, they can ensure that the data is used in appropriate ways.

Open data is a new phenomenon in ports. We organize training courses for members of the port community in Kotka and Turku, and create a guidebook for opening of data. Opened data sets are saved in a data catalogue, located on a database server established as a part of the project, which is where application developers and other users can find the data along with its metadata.

In order to accelerate the rate of innovation, we are organizing the “Hack the Port” hackathon in spring 2019. The event will see teams of students use open data to develop new services and solutions to problems identified by the port community.

The Finnish Transport Agency provides a comprehensive set of static fairway data and dynamic traffic data as open data for application development. Data flows are typically interrupted when arriving in ports, while the traffic systems of the future will require uninterrupted data flows. For this reason, we are seeking to promote the cooperation between ports and traffic authorities regarding data.


The project’s total budget is 366,347 euros, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Port of HaminaKotka, and the Port of Turku.

Project partners

Kotka Maritime Research Association, Merikotka ry (coordinator)
Southeastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, XAMK
Turku University, Brahea centre, Centre for Maritime Studies
Finnish Information Society Development Centre, TIEKE


DigiPort port digitalization report published

The digitalization of ports requires a lot of cooperation, as port communities are made up of numerous actors. Better sharing of information among port operators would streamline traffic and improve safety. In the future, port communities need to find ways and means to promote digitalization. Among other things, these themes are highlighted in the DigiPort project’s current state of the art of digitalization of Finnish ports. From this link to the report (in Finnish).

Port digitalization gained interest at DigiPort AamuAreena

DigiPort project partner TIEKE arranged an AamuAreena event on Friday 9.11.2018 at MOW Helsinki. AamuAreena events are all about discussions and making contacts in a nice atmosphere and with a cup of coffee. At this time under discussion was port digitalization and open data.

Deputy director Kirsti Tarnanen-Sariola from Finnish Port Association opened the session with a brief description of the duties of port authorities. When entering a seaport, the digitalization is clearly visible as automated gate operations. At the moment there are development activities going on to build value-added services around gate operations, such as detection of a cargo unit.

Then, DigiPort researcher Janne Saarikoski from Kotka Maritime Research Centre presented the current situation of the project. He stated that open distribution of data is of high importance when it comes to smooth functioning of the whole traffic system. Also, within port community, increased data sharing will lead to improved situational awareness.

Discussion after the presentations was intensive and lots of new contacts were formed. A shared vision was that port digitalization is a growing area of interest that has no easy solutions. It will require lots of cooperation and also flexibility in sharing of information.

Open data in ports – requirement or opportunity?

Writing in “A Hundred New Opportunities for Finland in 2018–2037”, a publication by the Finnish Parliament’s Committee for the Future, futurologists Risto Linturi and Osmo Kuusi argue that transport is the fastest-developing of all sectors. Digitalisation is becoming a reality for the logistics sector, but are ports ready?

This is a fear also expressed by the Finnish Government, which issued a decision in then spring stating that transport hubs such as ports and airports will be required to generate more open data in the future. Open data is essential to digitalisation efforts, which the transport sector will also need to undertake.

Read the blog post in its entirety on the Centrum Balticum site.

Digitalisation and data as solutions to ports’ problems?

The DigiPort project organised two seminar and workshop events in Kotka and Turku. The former was held on 13 March in office centre Merituuli’s Logistics Workshop, in the Mussalo port. In Turku we gathered on 15 March at the Auriga Business Centre, located on the Aboa Mare premises.

– The events exceeded expectations, with the venues for both fully booked. We had participants from all relevant organisations as well as representatives from public bodies, as we had hoped, said Project Manager Janne Saarikoski from the Kotka Maritime Research Centre.

The programme included presentation on the opportunities afforded to ports by open data by the Information Society Development Centre’s Jari Salo, followed by a workshop whose aim was to identify functional problems faced by the port community and look for solutions based on digitalisation and open data.

The results will now be analysed and utilised as a basis for examining the current state of ports. Identified problems will also be tackled by multidisciplinary student teams at the Hack the Port hackathon event in late winter 2019. Pictures of the event can be found on the Turku University Centre for Maritime Studies website.

Satamien digitalisaation nykytila Suomessa.

Saarikoski, J. & Helminen, R. 2019. Centre for Maritime Studies publications, University of Turku, Brahea Centre, B210.

Go to the page of the publication >

Datan avaamisen ABC satamanpitäjille

(updating document - v1.0)
Salo, Jari & Laaksamo, Heikki. 2018. TIEKE Tietoyhteiskunnan kehittämiskeskus ry.

Load PDF

Digiport-tapahtumassa kartoitettiin sataman ongelmia, joihin avoin data voisi auttaa.

Havaste, Ellinoora. 2018. University of Turku, Brahea Centre, Centre for maritime Studies news 22.3.2018.

Go to the page of the publication >
Janne Saarikoski Project researcher

Implementation time

1.10.2017 - 30.9.2019