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COVID-19 economic impact assessment from Space in Italian Ports and Logistic Centers – Enabling Industry Growth



Starting from the end of 2019, the virus spread all over the world began a pandemic that has led governments to enforce restrictions aimed at ensuring social distancing and, thus, decreasing Covid-19 spread. Italy has been the first country in Europe to be heavily impacted by this pandemic and to impose such restrictions. These restrictions have directly affected certain production activities but have also reduced people’s mobility and, thus, changed people’s habits, leading to an indirect effect on the Italian economy. These considerations suggest that there is a direct negative effect of Covid-19 restrictions on the Italian economy, but also a more complex indirect effect due to people’s changing purchasing behavior.

Based on this observation, the objective of this project is the development of a methodology that allows for the creation of indicators able to describe impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on the Italian economy using space data on representative Italian zone. In particular the test have conducted on two large Italian ports, Genoa (Liguria) and Gioia Tauro (Calabria), characterized by a balanced mix of the main lines of business of ports. Our empirical analyses confirm that port activity has a mediation effect on Covid-19 restrictions’ impact on the Italian economy.

Intuitively, changing people’s habits may negatively affect certain industries, but may also a have a positive effect on other industries providing the goods and services that have become more important to people’s lives, such as home appliances and accessories, food, furniture, and home office supplies. Port activity reflects these changes and represents a construct that can help model the economic impact of Covid-19 restrictions.

To study port activity, the team leveraged huge time series of data need to be analyzed in order to extract meaningful information related with pollution, night light, ships in port, car traffic, people movement, material stocks. The extracted data are then correlated with economic data of the area of interest, in order to understand how it is possible to translate satellite information in economic information useful for insurances and governments. Within this project, AI techniques are used to detection ad segment objects in satellite images and to create the predictive model able to find new correlations in the data. The Team complemented these data with other sources of data, including traffic and mobility data, as well official sources of information on port economics and on the more general trends of the Italian economy.

Finally to provide all result to decision-makers; the project provide the integration of the output of existing services in a dashboard. In this manner, the user can create personalized reports and graph regarding the areas of interest the variation in time of the developed indicators. The creation of a simple and interactive dashboard allows the users to visualize, through a user-friendly web interface, the information extracted from the satellite and mobile data, to further analyze and export data for broader comparative analyses. This simplify the comparison between data from different periods and the monitoring of the changes over time of the indicators, thus it represents a tool that could be useful also in the post-emergency period.


Prime contractor
  • Cherrydata srl (IT)