Ports and marinas are similar to cities in a number of ways—just on a very different scale. Nevertheless, this means they can benefit from all the same digital technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, Big Data, AI, and more. Digitalizing ports makes perfect sense because they’re crucial to the success of both the overall economy and individual regions. Smarter ports help maximize performance while minimizing costs. For example, by using the IoT, ports can increase the lifespan of machines while reducing maintenance costs, energy consumption, and CO2 emissions—also helping achieve climate goals.
Extending life cycles, saving resources and reducing costs
All industries across Europe are currently focused on using energy more efficiently by optimizing energy management. This is due to both ongoing cost pressures and efforts to meet sustainability targets. When it comes to ports and marinas, energy consumption and the condition of electricity meters can be monitored and optimized using real-time monitoring and alarm notifications of detected anomalies. With predictive maintenance, port authorities can even extend the life cycle of their infrastructure and equipment. Needless to say, detailed data also provides transparency.
The benefits are clear for all: on the one hand, digitalizing ports can save energy, material resources, and costs—all key to increasing productivity for port operators. On the other hand, it can also help protect the environment thanks to smart monitoring. For example, data on water purity, noise levels, air pollution, and temperature allow professionals to intervene when necessary and the right people to be quickly informed. Edge computing and AI models can process data to help ports increase their ability to absorb disruptions while maintaining service, recover from disruptions, adapt operations to prevent downtime, and react faster to disruptions. This not only improves resilience but also mitigates the risks of a loss of service.
Smart ports run on seamless data
Let’s look at large ports in particular. Whether it’s monitoring and optimizing traffic, waste management, energy consumption, or water quality—it all depends on collecting accurate data and transferring that data seamlessly. The Internet of Things also supports various applications in digital ports. A modern IoT ecosystem in a smart port, for example, enables various sensors to communicate with other devices, which ensures that data can be converted into direct benefits. Data collected from ground sensors or maritime systems can be enhanced with satellite observation data, which also helps diversify the type and number of beneficial use cases.
In collaboration with partners across Europe, OTE Group in Greece is leading the DataPorts research project for the digital transformation of ports. The main goal of its central data management platform is to help optimize port operations and enhance the supply and transport chain. OTE Group is involved in the planning, development, and testing of new services, defining the technical requirements and specifications of the platform, and determining how the program is assessed. Ultimately, the project ensures ports are able to exchange information quickly and reliably in both the traditional port ecosystem (authorities, agents, shipping, transport companies, etc.) and the broader ecosystem of public and private agencies around ports (regions, companies, etc.).
More sustainable and future-proof ports and marinas
Let’s switch to another example: just imagine a smart port or small marina that’s always clean. Well, that doesn’t have to be just a thought. Digital technologies mean that waste containers at ports can be equipped with fill level sensors to help optimize waste management. What’s more, real-time data can also be used for timely and sustainable route planning for pick-up. Furthermore, marinas can also use conventional technologies such as Wi-Fi and 5G campus networks—not to mention IoT applications. When set up, these options are available throughout the port, enabling seamless communication, faster processes, and better services for everyone involved.
When it comes to yachts and boats, they can navigate small ports safely and efficiently thanks to smart traffic management: outdoor lighting connected to sensors can illuminate free spots detected using smart berth sensor technology. If the marina is digital, they can also check fees ahead of time, book free berths, and pay online. Smart marinas also benefit because digital technologies make them more attractive for more yachts. Smart ports are even more productive thanks to optimized management applications, an extended infrastructure life cycle, and energy, material, and time savings.
Digital solutions guiding European ports into the future
At Telekom Business Europe, we’re actively supporting the implementation of smart solutions to overcome challenges in the costal maritime traffic and ports in Greece, Croatia, and Poland. OTE Group has been the number one IT and digital transformation partner for the maritime industry and ports in the south of Europe for more than 15 years, helping customers implement end-to-end solution thanks to years of experience. With Cyber Security Operation Centers, Cloud services and 5G Connectivity, our experts are here to help and support you in creating a smart and secure digital operations ecosystem. We’re also the ideal partner to help you implement secure and seamless communication for smart ports. Our services include setting up smart sensors, creating an easy-to-use management system, and developing mobile apps.
Let’s finish by looking to the horizon: In Croatia, Telekom Business Europe is connecting marinas and providing digital solutions to help increase operational efficiency, improve safety, and create a better customer experience. However, one of the main aims is to also improve interoperability between multimodal transport infrastructure and services. This has ultimately started the digitalization of the touristic ports and marinas on all the Croatian islands, leading the sector into a bright future.
- Gateways for the Trans European Transport Network. European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/transport/infrastructure/tentec/tentec-portal/site/brochures_images/ports2013_brochure_lowres.pdf
- How IoT contributes to achieving the climate goal. Telekom. https://www.telekom.com/en/blog/group/article/how-iot-contributes-to-achieving-the-climate-goal-1020858
- Leading ports and shipping to the new digital era. OTE Group. https://www.cosmote.gr/cs/otegroup/en/leads_ports.html