Port digitalization and an open data model for ports

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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


Final evaluation of the DigiPort project, part 1.

The realization and social impact of the DigiPort project can be assessed through four themes, the first of which is presented here.

Theme 1: Open Data Awareness and Knowledge

Open data is a new phenomenon in ports. Because of this, the project organized training on open data and its opportunities for members of the port community. In March 2018, two open data training workshops were held, one in Kotka and one in Turku. Events went well and were fully-booked. The participants represented a variety of port-related organizations from several Finnish ports. In addition to the training, the program included a workshop section that gathered information on what operational problems participants encountered in port operations. At the same time, it was considered how they could be solved by digitalization and open data.

In addition, the project produced an open written guide, “ABC of Opening Data in Ports”, in support of data opening and use of open data in ports. The guide has been updated during the project and the latest version has been published on the project website, and publications and updates have been made available, for example Twitter and direct communications to stakeholders. The social impact of the theme is the increased awareness and knowledge of open data in the port community.

New article on Port Digitalization published

An article on Port Digitalization and Open Data was recently published in the Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity. Professor Tommi Inkinen from the Brahea Center of the Turku University, Centre for Maritime Studies (CMS), has acted as the main author. The research data and analysis are based on the work of researchers at the DigiPort project, Janne Saarikoski (Kotka Maritime research Centre) and Reima Helminen (CMS) in a report on the current state of Port Digitalization.

The article can be downloaded from this link:

Hack the Port created new digital solution ideas for the port

DigiPort project organized the Hack the Port hackathon in Mussalo Port, Kotka, 9-11 April. Hackathon is a problem-solving event where teams of students try to develop new, innovative solutions to the challenges of everyday life. The theme of Hack the Port was to streamline port operations through digitalization and open data.

There were 20 participants and they were divided into five teams. Students represented different training programs. There were students from computer networks, cyber security, construction and service design as well as a sea captain student. Through multidisciplinarity, it is possible to combine different kinds of expertise, which can lead to “outside the box” solutions

The event was opened on Tuesday morning at 9.4. by mrs. Eija Rossi, Commercial Director of HaminaKotka Satama Oy, at the Merituuli office center of the port of Mussalo.

Eija Rossi introduced port company operations and role, and emphasized the need for new ideas and solutions in the port industry.

After the opening, there was an observation tour in the port area of ​​Mussalo. On the tour, the teams saw in concrete terms what was happening in the port and heard the views of different actors. At the same time, they had the opportunity to ask questions. The tour started with a general introduction by Ville Kuitunen of HaminaKotka Satama Oy, after which VR Transpoint Oy’s Jani Liikanen told about the organization and challenges of rail traffic in the port. The next step was the container terminal, where Steveco Oy’s Mikko Raki introduced container operations and the underlying information systems. Finally, we visited the liquid harbor where Suvi-Tuuli Lappalainen from Oiltanking Finland Oy introduced chemical operations and safety issues.

Ville Kuitunen, Sales Manager of HaminaKotka Satama Oy, began a tour with a general presentation of the Mussalo port area on the roof terrace of the Merituuli office center

After lunch, teams were presented with pre-defined challenges:
1. Developing port digital situational awareness
2. Streamlining port traffic through digitalization
3. Digitalization of port security
4. Risk analysis of the port’s open data sources
5. Open challenge

To solve the challenges, students had been provided with various background materials such as links to open data guides and databases, and research data from the DigiPort project workshops in spring 2018 in Kotka and Turku.

Work started at the Merituuli office center was continued in the Villa Aava in the nearby Santalahti Resort. Teams worked overnight and the day changed on Wednesday 10.4. At noon, the teams spread apart to finish their work independently.

Thursday morning 11.4. they met in the center of Kotka in XAMK Xlab. Teams were offered pitch training for a smooth and interesting presentation of solution ideas. Teams were also able to practice in front of the test jury. On the basis of the feedback received from them, the teams finished their final performances.

In the afternoon, the actual pitching and award ceremony took place. Hackathon jury included Research Director Maria Hänninen from Merikotka, Logistics Manager Olli-Pekka Brunila from XAMK, Sales Manager Ville Kuitunen from HaminaKotka Satama Oy and Project Manager Antti Viitanen from *ship Startup Festival.

Team PowerSquare was chosen as the winning team. Their idea was to streamline port road traffic by digitizing the driving instructions to the port. Moving around in the port area is often perceived as confusing and navigation may not be successful with standard navigation applications. At the moment, drivers are getting a paper map at the gate for instructions to deliver their cargo. In Team PowerSquare application, drivers are sent an e-mail with an information package that includes driving instructions and information about the area’s security arrangements and services.

Second came Team Jaa-a. Their solution was also related to traffic management by processing data from port entry gates and data from open road data sources. The goal is to avoid peaks and to ensure that the available capacity of the port area road network is not exceeded.

The third place was divided between two teams. The idea of ​​the “SH Double” team “Connecting Port People” brought a human-centered perspective on port digitalization. It was a construction of a new digital ecosystem for the port community. The Hak5 team’s output was a machine-vision-based traffic control and management solution.

The atmosphere of the award ceremony with Xlab.

Award-winning teams have the opportunity to refine their ideas and present them to mentors and funders at the *Ship Startup Festival.

Status of ports digitalization – report available

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.

Port Digitalization with Open Data: Challenges, Opportunities, and Integrations

Inkinen T., Helminen R. & Saarikoski J. Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity 5(2), 30

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Satamien digitalisaation nykytila Suomessa.

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

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Datan avaamisen ABC satamanpitäjille

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

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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.

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Janne Saarikoski Project researcher

Implementation time

1.10.2017 - 30.9.2019