Everything You Need to Know About MarineTraffic.com
If you are already aware of MarineTraffic.com you probably already rave about it. If not, let us introduce you to your new favourite internet distraction.
MarineTraffic is an open, community-based project committed to mapping the world’s water. Its purpose is to collect and present data that hasn't previously been availbale to the public. There are no limits to what we can learn from this data, but it currently contributes to the:
+ Study of marine telecommunications in respect of efficiency and propagation parameters
+ Simulation of vessel movements in order to contribute to the safety of navigation and to cope with critical incidents
+ Interactive information systems design
+ Design of databases providing real-time information
+ Statistical processing of ports traffic with applications in operational research
+ Design of models for the spotting of the origin of a pollution
+ Design of efficient algorithms for sea path evaluation and for determining the estimated time of ship arrivals
+ Correlation of the collected information with weather data
+ Cooperation with Institutes dedicated in the protection of the environment
MarineTraffic is a real game-changer because it allows anyone with an internet connection the chance to view the movements of ships around the world in real-time. Endless hours can be spent zooming in on some of the world’s busiest ports, browsing photos of some unbelievable vessels and tracking your favourite boats.
How did it begin?
Back in December 2004, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) ruled that all vessels over 299GT had to have an AIS (Automatic Identification System) transponder on board as an essential method of limiting the amount of water transport collisions.
An AIS transponder is a tracking system that electronically exchanges data with other nearby ships, AIS base stations, and satellites. Thanks to this decision, it became possible to log the position, speed, name, dimensions and voyage details of hundreds of thousands of new vessels.
MarineTraffic is made possible by an increasingly international community sharing information from their AIS receivers. The MarineTraffic central database receives and processes a large amount of data and stores the pieces of information it needs. All the information is then displayed on the website using Google’s map API. The wealth of data available as a result of the increasing popularity of AIS transponders also allows MarineTraffic users to search indepth vessel details, position history, port conditions and more.
All the data received is uploaded into the database in real time and immediately available to view on the map when the page is refreshed. However, several positions shown on the map may be not continuously refreshed (e.g. when a ship goes out of range). With more vessels equipped with AIS transponders and more AIS receiving stations popping up around the world, the MarineTraffic map becomes more indepth and more captivating.
MarineTraffic has huge potential to grow as their system can be expanded to cover any area worldwide. Anyone with a PC and a simple Internet connection can install a VHF antenna, an AIS receiver and begin sending and seeing data on the map.
How do I get involved?
Although AIS transponders were initially intended for vessels over 299GT, if you own a private boat sailing within the areas covered by MarineTraffic, you can easily install an AIS transponder on board. Having an AIS transponder on small vessels is entirely optional but installing one has many benefits. Vessels under 300 GT can be fitted with a Class B transponder which are available for around £700.
Alternatively, an AIS app is now available on most smart phones (iPhone/iPad or Android), allowing you to report the position of your vessel when on board directly to MarineTraffic, without needing an AIS transponder. Other methods of recording your position include:
+ Email position reports
+ Satellite or 3G/GSM locator devices
+ AIS transponder/receiver on board, connected to the Internet
Start exploring below by zooming into any location in the world, or go here for the full experience.
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Image Credits: MarineTraffic/Google
Article by Jack Bartrop