ROGER TAYLOR: Port of Halifax mines data for new business

Roger Taylor (

Published: 14 hours ago

Updated: 11 hours ago

The days of ships sailing into Halifax Harbour and simply dropping off and picking up cargo, without any thought by the port managers about where the goods would eventually end up, were over long ago.

As time has progressed, so has the sophistication of the methods used to examine the market potential of the port.

The Port of Halifax has been using a software system called Datamyne since 2008 as a source of global trade intelligence, but lately Halifax’s port authority has renewed its commitment to using it.

It was described on Monday as a “market research tool,” which uses data to provide information in a variety of categories, according to the Halifax Port Authority.

“It allows users to receive this, oftentimes, very complex information on international trade in a way that is easy to use and easy to visualize,” a port representative said in an email Monday.

Based in Miami, Datamyne has been used by the Halifax port operation since 2008 to examine shipping around the world by sourcing bills of lading, which provide the details of various transactions, including cargo descriptions, ports of departure and arrival, shipping lines, importing companies and foreign suppliers.

When privately held Datamyne was acquired by Waterloo, Ont.-based Descartes Systems Group in December 2016, the goal never changed.

Descartes announced on Monday that the Port of Halifax is “enhancing its business development efforts for containerized shipping operations” by using the Datamyne product to access detailed import-export data in its prospective trade lanes.

“Our goal is to make Halifax the east coast choice for cargo arriving from central Canada and the midwestern U.S. by demonstrating to importers, cargo owners, freight forwarders, terminals and rail providers how the port can fit into their supply chain,” Rob McInnes, manager of business development at the Halifax Port Authority, said in the Descartes news release Monday.

The data examined by the Datamyne software reportedly allows the port to research and make informed decisions about potential trading and logistics partners.

“We are a longtime subscriber to Descartes Datamyne and continue to find it invaluable, especially the in-depth information it provides on cargo transportation at competitive ports in the northeast,” McInnes said.

Descartes vice-president Mark Segner said the Port of Halifax can use the software to more effectively target new business opportunities.

“By providing detailed information on the flow of trade, ports, carriers and logistics, service providers can be more precise in their business development activities, increase revenue, understand the competitive landscape and keep sales and marketing costs in check,” Segner said in the release.

The software system can scale up or down the amount of data collected from postal codes and customs records, including shipment contents, volumes and values. The data can be used to reveal trends and new market potential.

Descartes describes itself as the global leader in providing on-demand, software-as-a-service solutions focused on improving the productivity, performance and security of logistics-intensive businesses.

Data mining isn’t exactly the most visual part of the Port of Halifax, but it may be one of the most important aspects of port business. The proof of the value the software reportedly provides will be increased activity at Halifax’s two container terminals.