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High traffic zone growth means increased gaps in AIS data

While VDES (VHF Data Exchange System) is an exciting upcoming solution to the overloading of the AIS, this advancement is still several years away. The maritime industry and application service providers are looking for solutions to AIS data gaps that can be implemented now and industry experts are re-examining the way data is transmitted in high traffic zones (HTZs) to address these challenges.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"} With more than 200,000 AIS users communicating across just two VHF channels of only a few kHz, the combined network of terrestrial and satellite equipment tracks ships throughout most of the ocean. The combined T-AIS with S-AIS technology developed on top of the 20-year-old AIS standard allows receivers to pull out a signal from anywhere on the planet. However, there are still some issues with receiving these signals on some global trade routes. 

With the number of ships transmitting outside of the range of terrestrial collection increasing again this year, satellite collections are dealing with heightened message collision issues. Additionally, firms focused on ship tracking and analysis of vessels in the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and seas bordering China, Singapore, and more will spend millions of dollars investigating AIS data gaps and lose cargo revenue due to unreliable forecasting. 

Data gap solutions and the changes they deliver

The introduction of Dynamic AIS (D-AIS) from Spire Maritime as part of their S-AIS service provides constant positional data to support the complex processes and algorithms required to accurately track vessels in real-time without any gaps. D-AIS is the only solution that taps thousands of satellite-enabled AIS receivers traveling throughout the busiest shipping lanes in the world. This solution provides an unprecedented impact on unique MMSIs received and the frequency of position updates as well as forecast data to ensure cargo viability. 

Spire Maritime’s full AIS offering combines three types of current AIS collection (Terrestrial, Satellite, and Dynamic) into one service. This combination of resources delivered 56 per cent more messages and 25 per cent additional unique MMSIs in the South China Sea.

Despite these advances, AIS still has room for improvement. Spire Maritime has nearly 100 satellites in orbit, many of which constantly track the oceans. 

Spire 2 jan 17

The North Sea and the South China Sea: A case study in the critical need for timely AIS data

According to the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, AIS data is critical for improving ship safety and efficiency in the North Sea. Because the North Sea is one of the busiest shipping traffic areas in the world, the Netherlands Coastguard continuously monitors AIS data transmitted by ships so as to oversee traffic patterns and provide assistance to ships as needed.

The high traffic of the area necessitates continuous monitoring and oversight via AIS data. The traffic that creates this level of need inhibits the possibility for effective and consistent oversight because the high volume of AIS data transmitted in the area causes significant signal interference. 

The South China Sea is quickly becoming the most crowded shipping route in the world and to complicate the already crowded waterways is the high volume of small fishing boats that are at risk of colliding with larger vessels. 

These waterways are also considered a conflict region and are a militarized zone which increases the need to know where ships are throughout their journey. 

Industry growth means greater reliance on data

With forecasted growth across the maritime industry this year, application service providers will continue to search for solutions to lost data in the busiest shipping lanes. With a complete overhauling of AIS standards still many years away, Spire’s Dynamic AIS is the only solution currently available for this industry-wide challenge.

Spire Maritime launched D-AIS in January 2020 after conducting beta testing with an array of customers. Early reactions were overwhelmingly positive. In beta tests, D-AIS delivered a global average of 16 per cent increase in global position updates which helped ship operators gain a competitive advantage over their competition in terms of fuel efficiency and route allocation. 

All firms focused on ship tracking and analysis have been challenged by gaps in AIS data in high ship traffic areas around the world and Spire’s Dynamic AIS addresses these challenges in a viable and accessible way. A key player in maritime intelligence and analytics said: “This finally solves the AIS gap problems after over a decade of struggle.”  {/mprestriction}

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Digital Ship magazine provides the latest information about maritime satellite communications technology, software systems, navigation technology, computer networks, data management and TMSA. It is published ten times a year.


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