GIS Technology Supports Port Efficiency and Expansion

Known as the Cargo Gateway to the Americas and currently home to 13 cruise lines, Port Miami is a vital economic anchor of Miami -Dade County. The Port employs more than 200,000 in the South Florida region and contributes $27 billion annually to the local economy. While more than 4 million cruise passengers traveled through the Port in 2013, cargo traffic growth continued to climb­—it is up 13 percent since 2009. Strong growth is projected for the future through infrastructure improvements such as the Deep Dredge, the Tunnel, and the re-introduction of on-port rail service through a partnership with the Florida East Coast Railway. This expansion is a boon to the economy but coordinating such volumes of cargo traffic and cruise passengers presents a clear challenge to port operators.

Ports throughout the nation are now turning to geographic information systems (GIS) technology to streamline daily workflow. Advances in this technology sector have reduced costs, allowed for quick response times to emergencies, and improved overall efficiency of port operations. Many ports have adopted fully integrated GIS platforms that enable the centralization of information logically organized in relation to its geographic location, such as the condition of railroads, piping, or feeds from security cameras. Thousands of layers of port data of this sort can now be applied to a basemap of the port.  Information that may have previously taken many hours to locate is now available to port operators within minutes.

Data can also be transmitted to and from mobile devices throughout the port.  This contributes to faster, more informed decision making during day-to-day operations, including incident response and environmental management. The possibilities offered by GIS technology are extending beyond the geographic bounds of the port as online interactive data viewers become more accessible. Information related to climate change, water quality, and the location of national conservation designations can be contributed by users and shared freely through this medium.  These advancements have made GIS technology a necessary tool for effective port management in periods of speedy growth.

Port Miami began the installation of its own GIS project in September 2013. The Port has successfully wrapped up the first phase of the project and has reportedly made significant headway in Phase II of implementation. GIS technology will certainly aid Port Miami in meeting its future expansion goals.