Gispo Ltd specialises in open source geographic information solutions and open data. The company engineered a data visualisation platform for the Northern Growth Zone to bring real-time information to the Growth Zone’s website.
“Information is used to make an impact. By combining and visualising data, we created an image of how important the Northern Growth Zone is as a transport hub and as a centre of growth,” says GIS specialist and Gispo Ltd shareholder Topi Tjukanov.
The project utilised open data from institutions such as Statistics Finland, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, Traffic Management Finland and the Finnish Environment Institute as well as Telia’s mobile phone data about how people move.
The technological execution used open source Kepler technology with a combination of visualisations from different themes. The platform displays real-time ship and train traffic as well as traffic flows related to commuting. It also includes regional data on population and job distribution, median incomes and holiday homes.
“The new platform is an easy way to communicate the importance of the Northern Growth Zone to policymakers and residents on both a national and international level,” says Marjo Uotila, the Northern Growth Zone’s Director of Strategic Alliances.
The Northern Growth Zone is a link to Europe
The Northern Growth Zone is a hub for national and international land, marine and air traffic. Marine traffic, in particular, is very significant to the Finnish economy: up to 85% of imports and exports go through ports.
“We are on the outskirts of the European market, where the economy requires good transport connections. Finland’s main market is Europe, and sea routes are the main connections” states the Finnish Port Association’s Managing Director, Annaleena Mäkilä.
Finland’s port market is spread along the long coastline all the way from Kotka to Tornio. The most significant passenger travel ports of the Northern Growth Zone are in Helsinki and Turku. For freight traffic, significant ports also include ports in Hamina-Kotka, Porvoo, Pori, Rauma, Naantali, Uusikaupunki and Hanko.
Mäkilä emphasises that good railway and road networks are also necessary for marine transport.
“The transport system must be viewed comprehensively, and connections on land and at sea should be developed side-by-side. Finland is currently preparing its first long-term infrastructure investment plan that combines all forms of transport,” Mäkilä says.
“As part of the international TEN-T core network, The Northern Growth Zone plays a key role in developing both domestic and international connections. With projects that promote accessibility, we will make the Growth Zone a successful and competitive for entrepreneurs and residents – growth for all of Finland,” Uotila adds.
Exceptional circumstances highlight the importance of logistics
As the situation caused by the coronavirus reduces people’s mobility, good logistics have become more important than ever. Functional goods transport maintains Finland’s security of supply and capacity to function.
Ports have responded to the situation quickly, and the volume of transported goods has remained almost the same as before. Passenger car ferries are also travelling the sea, albeit without passengers.
“We must remember that these RoPax ships also carry cargo in addition to people. From the perspective of security of supply, it is important to ensure that the connection across the Baltic Sea stays open under exceptional circumstances as well.
Mäkilä and Uotila trust that Finland’s economic growth will continue after the challenging situation is resolved.
“We largely live on the export revenue of the forest, metal and chemical industry. We will not see how the pandemic period affects the outlook of exports until later,” Mäkilä remarks.