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Satellite AIS: Location-Based Services in the Maritime World?

Posted by Graham Stickler on May 14, 2012 3:23:00 PM

After my experience tracking my container, mentioned in my last blog, I started thinking about Location Based Services (LBS) in the Maritime World.  In the worlds I’ve operated in to date (land-based) LBS is pretty common place – although I do wonder sometimes if we all mean the same thing when we use the term. 

In an asset management presentation many years ago I defined LBS as meaning some sort of automated service that enables the dynamic supply of information for geospatial position, that can then be used to track or follow the target object or locate its position relative to other objects of interest.  Sorry, bit of a mouthful – I was young and wild once!  In other words, gather and make sense of an object’s location and then pass this to an intelligent application that uses this location-based information to deliver a service of some sort.  Simple right?  Satellite AIS (S-AIS) it seems to me enables exactly that – although I’ve not yet seen it mentioned in such terms. 

I appreciate of course that with S-AIS only really being reliably operational for the last 22 months or so, that it will take time for such a new technology to mature into the marketplace but clearly the applications, as with traditional land-based LBS, must be huge.  We talk here at exactEarth about S-AIS helping Secure Borders, Protect the Environment, Enhance Trade, and Save Lives, but it seems to me that should be the tip of the iceberg as what has traditionally be considered a blind spot is now ‘in view’.

The key of course, as was found with LBS in the past, will be the delivery mechanisms for such data.  Fast, simple, lightweight, delivery of data packaged to the end users’ needs will be the acid test. 

We started down this route this week here at exactEarth when we ‘published’ our first interactive S-AIS map onto the internet.  Take a look here at our tracking of the yacht Nereida.  It’s pretty cool, as we used to say in the early days of GIS, but beyond that, is this now the beginning of LBS in the open oceans?

So, maybe you heard it here first?  S-AIS is LBS for the high seas!

Topics: Satellite AIS, Ocean GIS, Location Based Services

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