The Port of Los Angeles (POLA) is one of the top ten ports in the world. As such, it comprises a city-sized area with a wide range of business activities, stakeholders and a complex regulatory environment. NSG NZ in partnership with NorthSouth GIS US (NSG US) delivered an award-winning enterprise GIS solution to the Port.

The Port of Los Angeles
Figure: The Port of Los Angeles.

User Need

NSG NZ and NSG were initially involved in a strategic consulting exercise to advise POLA as to how GIS could be used to enable better, faster decision making across the port enterprise. A collaborative approach, involving various departments including Engineering, Planning, Real Estate and Port Police enabled POLA to understand GIS capabilities to support requirements for improved business efficiencies.

The result was a highly innovative approach to using web services to integrate geospatial information across all Port business areas and into a wide range of geospatial, CADD and business applications. These innovative services include real-time vessel positioning and traffic sensor feeds integrated with a significant variety of base maps.


The initial strategic consulting engagement to deliver POLA with a GIS strategy was used by POLA to undertake a competitive acquisition.

NSG US was awarded the contract as the prime contractor, with NSG NZ providing resources. The team also involved other subcontractors including world-leading port operations company Moffat & Nichol and Esri.

NSG NZ’s role was to engineer the innovative web services that provided the backbone of the GIS infrastructure and enable these services to support a wide range of business functions and applications across the Port enterprise. This involved the integration of a large number of geo-spatial datasets, including cadastre, conventional aerial and Pictometry photography in an Esri database environment that necessitated extensive development on Esri’s ArcGIS Server.

NSG NZ created a Silverlight-based Rich Internet Application that has been recognised by Esri as a world-leading implementation. This application uses a range of web services to integrate information such as vessel movement, traffic sensor, highway patrol notifications, weather sensors and exclusion zones determined by the Port Police Emergency Operation Centre. Each of these individual items comes from a separate system completely independent of the Enterprise GIS system at POLA.

An especially creative aspect of this project was the development of a ‘GeoPOLA Academy’ that provided incentivised training for over 800 users across the Port.

Actions Arising

The outcome of this project has been a spectacular success for POLA:

  • An Esri-based Enterprise GIS that cuts across operational divisions and data silos, unifies existing GIS and CADD technologies, and addresses operational, security, and emergency management:
  • Data and ready-made maps served directly from ArcGIS Server to other software and systems, e.g. ArcGIS, AutoCAD, Situator (Situation Management), AiM (Lease Management), and EDS (Environmental Database System).
  • Integrated display of static GIS data and dynamic data like vessels, traffic, weather, and Blue Force Tracking for Port Police.
  • Delivery and integration of all geospatial information via geoPOLA – the Port-wide Intranet GIS web map viewer.
  • Integration of AutoCAD Engineering user base with Esri-based Enterprise GIS geodatabases
  • IT standards-based solution including SQL Server, Virtual Servers, unified Active Directory.
  • The project was delivered on time, in only eight months and within a constrained budget
  • All Port business areas are now able to use common Geospatial Information Web Services

POLA Applications Supported by Enterprise GIS<br />
Figure: POLA Applications Supported by Enterprise GIS


POLA received the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) award for the best Information Communication Technology (ICT) project in 2010. It should be noted that this is an IT award, not just a GIS award and was selected from all US, Canadian and South American ports.

POLA also received a Special Achievement in GIS Award at the 2010 Esri International User Conference: one of just 200 awards from over 100,000 users.