Nautical traffic management

Onderzoek: 2015-2019

Research: 2015-2019


The use of new nautical traffic models can improve the smooth and safe handling of shipping in the port of Rotterdam.



Nowadays, in the port of Rotterdam, the handling of shipping traffic runs in a smooth and safe way. However, a significant increase of traffic is expected. Furthermore, container ships will get bigger, while no new infrastructure will be added. In addition, society demands still higher safety standards and improved quantification of the actions of the Port Authority. In order to address these developments, research is being done about the use of nautical traffic models, that provide insight into the current and expected shipping traffic in the port. Nautical traffic modelling makes it possible to maintain current safety and smoothness of traffic and even increase safety and accelerate ship handling.

Research has been done to find out with which data good traffic models can be made. Taken into consideration are the possibilities of quantitative as well as qualitative data (e.g. knowledge and experience of people working in the port).

Swarm Port

In addition, the specific Swarm Port concept is investigated: When handling ships, most of the work is now taking place sequentially. Can data and traffic models help to enable the parties involved to work closer together and, by doing so, achieve a shorter turn-around time?
This research is about agent based modelling. This can initially provide process transparency. Then, with the insights that transparency brings, the next step could be process optimization.
Whether, how and when which (part of a) process is optimized will depend on each particular situation.
As the nautical chain does not have an overarching authority, the optimization of processes must be based on consensus of the parties involved.


  • Future-proof nautical traffic management – With better insight provided and by being flexible, waiting times can be minimised and the handling can be more efficient. Nautical traffic models also help in making the port being suitably equipped for growth in ship traffic and larger vessels
  • Higher safety – (NB: Within Swarm Port, this is not a focus) The nautical traffic models provide the Harbour Master a better insight into current and upcoming traffic and make it possible to respond and anticipate and thus increase safety. and is able to ensure the demands of society for higher safety standards.


  •  Data gathering – The AIS data are not complete and contain inaccuracies, partly due to the fact that delivering the data is not mandatory.
  • Modelling data – How can data about ship movements and activities of agents be used to achieve a precise model of the sailing behaviour of ships.
  • Developing a tool for port traffic management and port development – How can a model be converted into tools either to be used by the Harbour Master for traffic management or to assist in developing the port in the future.


  • The Harbour Master and the companies in the port benefit from a complete upgrade of port management that ensures higher safety levels and smooth traffic flows.


Intertransis, Port of Rotterdam, KRVE (Royal Boatmen’s Association Eendracht), Loodswezen (Dutch piloting services).
Tugboat companies: Fairplay, Kotug Smit towage, Svitzer.
Swarm Port partner: Swarmlab.
Knowledge partners: TU Delft, TNO, TKI-Dinalog.

Nautical traffic management - nautical traffic models

“Simulating the port processes is the first step to efficiency and safety improvement.”

Gert van der Lee

Managing Partner, IntertransIS

“By making use of advanced nautical traffic modelling, the port authority will be able to improve the prevention and reduction of unwanted traffic situations.”

Raymond Seignette

Project Manager, Port of Rotterdam Authority

Direct contact

More information

Contact our project developer Dirk Koppenol for more information about these and other projects and how you can be part of the SmartPort Community.

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