The Green Land Breaks the Ice!


Our micro-economic approach shows the impact of open data across the entire value chain. The results surprised us!


Bottom-up approach shows satellite data for ice breakers is worth millions

The use of satellite data by Finnish and Swedisch ice breakers creates an economic value between €24 million en €116 million each year.

This is what a study by The Green Land concludes. The study was commissioned by the European Space Agency, and completed in collaboration with EARSC. Unique to this study is that it takes a micro-economic approach, with which the entire value chain is taken into account: for every link in that chain the impact of having satellite data available is calculated.

Satellite data ultimately reduces the cost of shopping in Finland

Eighty percent of Finnish imports come across the sea. As the coastal waters around Finland are frozen over from early November until March, ice breaker fleets play a crucial role in the Finnish economy.

Since 2004 – helicopters were used before – Finnish ice breakers use satellite data. The main advantage is that these data provide a synoptic view of the location, and more importantly the movement of sea ice. The impact on the value chain has been enormous: operational and fuel costs of ice breakers were strongly reduced and their increased effectiveness created strong cost savings for the ships they service (lower fuel costs, less damage, shorter waiting and transit times). A much higher reliability in predicting arrival times in turn significantly reduces logistical costs in ports and harbours, and subsequent steps in the logistics chain (improved stock management, higher rate of timely order fulfillment), and ultimately making Finnish citizens better of.

It is to be expected that ESA’s Copernicus programme – which will intensify the availability of satellite data as open data – will further increase this value creation.

Only by starting bottom-up you get detailed insights into impact

The problem with lots of general studies into the impact of open data is that they take an aggregated approach. In our experience looking very closely at specific contexts in which open data is being used, provides a much better overview, as only then you get to also see the second, third and higher order effects.

Taking such a micro-economic approach, a unique angle, we are able to cover the entire value chain, and provide a complete picture.

This study is the first in a series of three to be completed by The Green Land at the request of ESA. The other two studies focus on the value of satellite data to the Swedish forestry industry, and the impact of satellite data on the maintenance and management of gas mains infrastructure in the Netherlands (in collaboration with STEDIN and SkyGeo).


The report Copernicus Sentinels’ Products Economic Value – Case: Winter Navigation in the Baltic

Photo Cristopher Michel, CC BY

Delivered in 2015 by Marc de Vries, in collaboration with EARSC
assignment by the European Space Agency

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