The Story behind GISGRO: Meet the Team Who Wanted to Revolutionize Port Information Management

Pioneers in online port data management

When you have an innovative engineer’s mind and enough courage to try things no one has done before, you can get anywhere.

Kirsi Hänninen, a civil engineer and COO, is interviewed about the development of online port management information platform, GISGRO. She and her colleagues have been vanguards of underwater structural inspection and the first in the world to use sonar scanners for detailed inspections of vertical structures, but they didn’t want to stop there. In this article we go through the path of GISGRO, how a pioneering surveyor company became the leading port software company in Finland.


“From the first underwater surveys on we had enormous difficulties in delivering huge 3D data files to our customers. The case was that our customers never saw the 3D data themselves but just sent them to some other consultant or designer”, Hänninen explains the challenges with 3D data and adds that there is more than one occasion when a client called and said that their computer just crashed trying to open the .txt file. The problem was first docked with an in-house software designed just for the visualization of the point clouds.

“The 2D visualizations helped a bit, but it’s still quite a workload to take snapshots and create the report manually with dozens of pictures. We even printed out heavy booklets of 2D pictures and sent them to customers by mail -in this era of digitalization! It is quite amazing how much 3D data is collected but how little of it is really used”, Hänninen continues.


While GISGRO’s roots are in underwater data, discussions with clients revealed that other data formats bring also similar problems. To tackle the primary challenge the team started to develop an online software for visualizing, sharing and utilizing ports’ data.


From paper booklets to online port platform

GISGRO took its first breaths almost at the same time as when web technology enabled smooth viewing of 3D data via web browsers. It was a natural decision to start to develop an online platform instead of a desktop program, because there was nothing available as such, and because the experiences with customers showed a real need for easy-to-use software.


“In Finland we have excellent education and know-how on web technology, GIS [Geographic Information Systems] and BIM [Building Information Modelling], which is one factor of our success in developing proper tools for ports’ asset management. With the help of our customers from different industries we figured out some of the most critical needs of data management and have solved many of them with GISGRO”, Hänninen describes.


For several years the customers of GISGRO have already been able to view and utilize the 3D data easily via the platform, and the feedback has been great. The digital twin of the port proved to be a perfect base for smarter digital operations in a port.


A vision for easier port management and smart use of data

The GISGRO team has a strong background in working with GIS data and making the most user-friendly software. Close co-operations with port industry lead to an innovation to make the most out of all data in port asset management and operations. This step required a bit more knowhow on ports’ business, and hence the aqcuisition of port software company Satamatieto was realized in 2022.

The digitalization of port industry has picked up speed in the last few years, and now the buzz around digital tools in greater than ever. The ability to provide a complete port management information system serving all port functions under one roof brings a great benefit for GISGRO.


“GISGRO is the first online software for port management which is truly helping customers in their everyday work from the C-level to the field operations. And we are constantly working on making it even better”, Hänninen summarizes.



For more information, book a 30 minute online GISGRO demo with our specialist.

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