How Port Performance Analyzer – PortScan – turns tons of AIS data into insights


Data is the new gold. While many industries have already experienced the data rush and tried to measure every other activity, without understanding how to use that information for decision-making, the maritime industry has just recently joined this race. 

As the digitization in the maritime sector increases, so does the amount of data collected. But just because you can collect that data doesn’t mean you should. 

Data is only valuable if you can deduce actionable insight from it. When it supports critical business decisions. When it works for you rather than creates data paralysis and holds you back from taking any steps. 

To help ports navigate the sea of data and have a clear focus, we offer a free tool – PortScan. It generates personalized Port Performance reports based on AIS signals and includes only metrics that matter, like anchorage duration, anchorage percentage, visit duration, and a few more.

Port managers can use this data to analyze their port efficiency and identify factors wrecking their performance. Too high anchorage percentage? Might be the result of a lack of communication with the vessel operators during the voyage. Too long visit duration? Might signal that vessels cannot leave your port earlier because the pilots and terminal operation managers don’t coordinate their activities. The vessel remains alongside longer than it should, taking up other vessel’s space.

The PortScan extracts actionable insights from tons of data and visualizes it in an easy to follow way.

Toby Tan, the Data Scientist at the Port of Rotterdam, got the idea to build PortScan. We had a quick interview with him to understand better what happens under the hood of PortScan.

Diana: Where did the idea to build PortScan come from?

Toby: One year ago, the Port of Rotterdam participated at a large conference for Caribbean Ports to get attention for PortXchange. I’ve prepared a report for that conference about the performance of Caribbean Ports, including the data on visits, trips between those ports, and anchorage in that area. It was so informative that we thought of making a more generic version that can be used by ports worldwide. 

After multiple brainstorming sessions with several colleagues, we offered PortScan as a self-service tool. The user can request a PortScan him- or herself and automatically receive a key for the dashboard with metrics about the specific port’s performance.

Diana: How is the data generated in the report? 

Toby: The first step is to identify the port polygon, in other words, port’s boundaries. Then based on AIS data, PortScan generates events of visits, trips, and anchorage that occur within those boundaries. For example, a visit is recorded when the ship has moored in the port polygon and stayed there for at least 30 minutes. Anchorage duration is the difference between the ATA and ATD at the anchorage spot. 

AIS data is publicly available, and it’s remarkable how much insights you can get out of it. Surprisingly enough, not all ports have access to these insights. Our goal with PortScan is to make them available and present in an easy to understand way.

Diana: What were some of your main challenges while building PortScan?

Toby: The greatest challenge is to handle a large amount of data. The PortScan is looking back for 4 weeks, so imagine gathering all AIS messages within a large port for such a long time range.

If you want to analyze your port’s performance through PortScan and get some actionable insight, head over to

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About the author

Diana Trubnikova
Growth Marketer

Diana is a B2B marketing specialist passionate about innovative digital solutions that drive real change in the world. She helps companies discover PortXchange and assess if it’s a good fit for their needs.

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