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, communications 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, an action plan 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 communications capabilities in the Arctic and services supporting maritime transport, which have close connections with navigation and geospatial information. 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 is to conduct a user survey to find out the users' views on the challenges in navigation and geospatial information based applications in the Arctic. The results of the survey will be published in the international seminar arranged in Olos, Finland, in April 2018, where the results will be discussed by experts in working groups. This will lay the foundation for the action plan; furthermore, the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute will investigate the feasibility of several methods for improving the availability and accuracy of satellite-based positioning to solve the Arctic challenges.