Port Strategy: Shaping the Future

Press Review

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This article was published in the April issue of Port Strategy in 2020.


In the first of a two-part series, Matthew Wittemeier and Dr. Eva Savelsberg of INFORM GmbH outline strategic and emerging tech trends for 2020.

In 2018, we released our first emerging technology articleand kicked off 2038: A Smart Port Story Part 1 – our vision ofthe port and terminal industry in 20 years’ time.

As our second installment of the emerging tech article from 2018, this two-part series will explore a handful of emerging technologies that are starting to shape, or have a high probability of shaping, the future of our industry in Part 1.

We have also elected to go one step further this year and add in some of the strategic trends that are also impacting the adoption of technology in Part 2.


There are four emerging technologies that are worth monitoring in 2020, namely 5G, gamification blockchain, and artificial intelligence (AI). Like in 2018, let’s define each and then look at a usage example within the ports and terminals industry.


Fifth-generation wireless, or “5G,” as it is commonly known, is the next generation of mobile technology. 5G utilises abroader spectrum of frequencies moving into the infrared range allowing for much lower latency (faster data exchange) and more simultaneous connections. The application of these improvements is well documented and, notably for maritime, they include machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, improved autonomous vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications and coordination, and improved wireless network connectivity over traditional wireless networking protocols and standards.

While there is currently a lot of hype about 5G, the reality is that the standards that will ultimately govern the technology are not yet fully in place globally. We are expecting this year to be a big one for 5G as these standards start to come into effect and an increasing number of manufacturers include this as a standard in their equipment. In short, stay tuned.


Gamification is defined as the application of typical elements of game-playing (e.g., point-scoring, competition with others,rules of play, etc.) to other types of activity. Gamification is not a new concept. No, it’s been around since the early 2010s, but it is on this list because 2019 is the first year we have seen applications within the terminal industry. The extent that gamification is a product or by-product of society set aside, since 2010, this is something that has become increasingly common in software design as a means to improve user engagement and productivity.

In 2038, we hypothesised that the terminal operator of the future would use gamification to encourage improved performance and reward human operators. These were obvious, “low-hanging” fruit. We also took it a step further and outlined that, when interconnected with a machine learning algorithm, a gamification system could be used as a tool to assess human behavioral patterns.

Combined, these two applications of gamification could become a powerful tool in any terminal operator’s bag of operational resources for improving efficiency and learning new ways to deal with familiar and unfamiliar process challenges.

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