I am the Esri, Inc. Professional Services' lead for Maritime/Port practice. Find me on LinkedIn to get my background information.
I will be posting here periodically on items of interest to the professional maritime industry, including links to news items. I will be identifying trends and generally try to be of assistance in understanding how Esri tools and services can help maritime experts, and to help GIS people understand the importance of professional maritime industry to the economic well-being of cities, states, regions, and countries.
Let's start with some questions.
Q: How is a port different from a city?
A: I find it helpful to think of a port as a city with a working waterfront. The services required to make a city safe and successful for its citizens and workers are also required for ports. Security, transportation and utility infrastructure, agreements about who owns and is responsible for assets, and communication both within and outside the port are critical, just like police/fire departments, utilities, roads/highways, and land administration are critical for cities and towns. One of the bigger differences is that the maritime aspects of a port require multi-modal communication, information, and transportation integration. For example, a port needs to be tightly communicating with coastal security forces (Navy/Coast Guard), inland security (police), and shipping agents (Port State Control, Immigrations/Customs) to effective manage the throughput of goods from water to land. If the port is an international connection, then sharing information between originating and destination locations is also critical. Information flow is as important as commodity flow to a port!
Q: Who owns a port and how are decisions made?
A: This is actually a really important question. Ports are created under many authorities. Some of these may predate current law; they are the way they are because they have always been that way! Most have modern governance principals, and because of the money involved, are overseen by political systems with membership comprised of professional managers and assisted by consultants with expertise drawn from financial, shipping, and infrastructure/engineering disciplines. The growth in information dependence has also created a reliance upon IT infrastructure that may or may not be well-understood (just as with many cities!) Some ports are managed 'behind closed doors', but many have open meetings or other ways to get local population input to major decisions, including elections.
...more to come. Here's a report about transportation and big data you may find interesting: http://www.internationaltransportforum.org/Pub/pdf/15CPB_BigData.pdf