How do you plot a safe course through a geographical area that changes rapidly, and dangerously? With S-AIS, of course. Maritime shipping routes through the Arctic have been a passionate discussion for centuries. Looking at a flat map of the world it’s easy to forget how close in proximity all northern countries are, but if you spin a globe and gaze down from an Arctic point of view, the distance doesn’t seem so vast. For any maritime vessel traveling through those frigid waters, ice is the number one problem. The ice that covers the Arctic is volatile; while historically it has always broken off in massive chunks to float freely and dangerously south, climate change has sped up that process, making it more challenging than ever in recent history to predict the appearance of ice flows and icebergs in waterways. Related, but a problem on its own, is that due to the restricted access explorers have had to the Arctic, topographical information is limited in comparison to most other global waterways. S-AIS can’t provide a picture of the landscape and depth of water in a traditional sense, but it can use historical data provided by the vessels that do wander through this path less traveled to create a more thorough picture.
It was about 2:30 in the afternoon, October 1, 2015. Several colleagues and I were at a series of meetings with our partners at Harris Corporation in Melbourne Florida. We had been asked to provide a demonstration of what our Generation 1 satellite constellation is able to do using our web based product, ShipView. This would help Harris employees understand the value of what we will achieve together with exactViewRT powered by Harris. Peter Dorcas, Sr. Director of Business Development for exactEarth, was making the presentation to a group of about 30 Harris employees. He had ShipView projected on the big screen and was going through a fairly typical demonstration of both the exactView Generation 1 satellite AIS data and the capabilities of the ShipView product.
The US FCC has recently approved transmissions by AIS SART devices. These devices were originally designed for SOLAS class ships as an alternative to radar SARTs for carriage on life boats, but the efficiency of design has encouraged applications down to man-over-board devices. I started to question how this new large population of AIS devices could best be tracked.
The sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912, caused drastic changes within the shipping industry with the introduction of new rules and regulations to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again. As the 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy passes, I thought it might be useful to discuss the process that would happen today if such a disaster were to occur.