The recent collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore after being struck by a container ship has put port and harbor navigation safety at the forefront of people’s minds. Navigating through a large port can be tricky given environmental factors, limited space for maneuverability, and a large number of ships of varying sizes. This complexity makes effective management of water transportation a key element to keep the supply chain running in today’s global economy. What are the risks of ship collision and other potential hazards lurking in port waters? That is the question that Jianwen Ma, Qinyou Hu, Tian Liu, Zhaoxin Zhu, and Yue Zhou address in their study published in the ASCE-ASME Journal of Risk and Uncertainty in Engineering Systems, Part A: Civil Engineering.

In their article, “Research on Ship Collision Risk Calculation in Port Navigation Waters Based on Ising Model and AIS Data,” the authors posited that an Ising model could be applied to ship navigation behavior to assess port collision risk. Using Qingdao Port in China for their research area, they focused on a two-dimensional model and divided the port into a grid system. They calculated ship encounters across the entire research area and studied the impact of crossing frequency and ship velocity. Finally, they compared their own research results to historical accident data from the same area and identified high-risk spots within the port. Learn more about this fast, efficient, and accurate method for quantitatively assessing ship collision risk in port waters at The abstract is below.


Effectively identifying the distribution pattern and influencing factors of ship collision risk is crucial for ensuring navigation safety, operation, and management efficiency in port waters. First, this paper used the Ising model theory to extract ship data from the automatic identification system (AIS) and investigate the mutual influence mechanism among ships. Second, by applying the Ising model, a calculation model was developed to determine ship collision risk values in port waters. This model takes into account various influential factors, including the number of ship track crossing frequency, density distribution, velocity dispersion, and spacing. By integrating these factors, the model enables a quantitative analysis of the ship collision risk situation in port waters. Finally, to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed Ising model, a case study was conducted using Qingdao Port as an example. Through this case study, the paper analyzes the patterns of ship collision risks in the port area. The findings reveal that the Ising model effectively identifies areas with higher collision risk, enhancing the identification of ship navigation risks and contributing to overall navigation safety management in port waters. The results indicate that the proposed collision risk Ising model can quantitatively assess the distribution of collision risks for ships in restricted water areas such as ports. These findings contribute to the identification of ship navigation risks in port waters.

See how this formula could apply to a port you work with or for in the ASCE Library at