The Arctic region offers an immense potential for growth in business such as transport, mining, and tourism. However, the wide range of applications face a variety of challenges that are specific to the Arctic. For instance, maritime navigation requires up-to-date awareness of the ice conditions, aviation suffers from degraded coverage of satellite navigation augmentation systems at high latitudes, and atmospheric phenomena (those that cause, e.g., the Aurora Borealis) degrade the general accuracy and availability of satellite positioning. Moreover, visibility is often poor, telecommunications connectivity is not always available, and the quality of maps and nautical charts can be suboptimal, which is a challenge especially for autonomous vessels and vehicles. These challenges concern not only the Arctic Circle but certain other areas as well, such as the Gulf of Bothnia.
The goal of the ARKKI project is twofold. First, we identify the most significant challenges that are faced in navigation and geospatial information based applications in Arctic areas. Then, based on this study, a roadmap will be proposed to recommend pan-Arctic solutions to the identified challenges.
During the Finnish chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2017–2019 a strong focus is on improving the telecommunications capabilities in the Arctic and services supporting maritime transport, which have close connections with navigation and geospatial information. In addition, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has already published an Action Plan for the Efficient deployment of satellite systems in Finland. Therefore, the objectives of the project are in line with high-level political interests.
The ARKKI project is conducted by the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute in collaboration with the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications. The project is funded by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Baltic Sea, Barents and Arctic cooperation programme.
The first step in the project was to conduct a user survey to find out the users’ views on the challenges in navigation and geospatial information based applications in the Arctic. Then, the results of the survey were discussed in expert working groups in the international workshop arranged in Olos, Finland, in April 2018. The next step is to build on these results by developing a roadmap on how the challenges can be solved. This development will involve scientific research by the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute to investigate the feasibility of several methods for improving the availability and accuracy of satellite-based positioning to solve the Arctic challenges.