Does the traffic volume of a port determine connectivity? Revisiting port connectivity measures with high-frequency satellite data

Xiwen Bai, Liangqi Cheng, Dong Yang, Ouchen Cai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Seaports play an important role in the global shipping network. Shipping participants often attach great importance to the measurement of container port connectivity, as it reflects countries' access to world markets. As a result, various port connectivity index systems have been proposed by members of the shipping industry and scholars. In recent years, technological developments especially the advancement of high coverage and real-time Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, have provided a chance to improve the scope and frequency of the existing index systems. An improved system is expected to reflect the dynamic changes in a port's connectivity which may be induced by either local disruptions or shocks in the wider economy. This study builds a monthly container port connectivity index system by applying big data mining techniques, graph theory, and principal component analysis (PCA) to AIS data, taking both port factors and shipping network factors into consideration. AIS records from 2020 are used to calculate the connectivity score of 25 major container ports. We also compare our system with the connectivity index commonly used in the shipping industry, the Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (LSCI). Our results show that the measurement of connectivity can be improved over indices that depend primarily on indicators of traffic volume. Ports like Antwerp and Tanjung Pelepas rank high in the proposed system due to their sound performance on their accessibility and strategic position in the local region instead of their traffic volume. The monthly index system is also proven to reflect timely changes in the shipping industry through its accurate portrayal of changes in port connectivity during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103385
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Automatic identification system
  • Container ports
  • Global port connectivity
  • Liner shipping network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • General Environmental Science


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