I love this kind of stuff: a Canadian company tracks the global positions of ships – both freighters and cruise ships.
Since 2010, Cambridge, Ont.-based exactEarth Ltd. has been “mining” data about shipping traffic on Earth using satellites — a technique that could potentially be used to collect other, new kinds of valuable data.
“Until we started doing this…you had little bits of information, but you really didn’t have a complete domain awareness of what’s out there,” said Philip Miller, the company’s vice president of engineering and operations.
“Once a ship leaves the shore, essentially they’re a sovereign entity …. A captain can go where he wants. And from shore you didn’t know what was happening unless you contacted the ship and asked — whereas now we’re watching, and we know where they go.”
Here are some factoids from the article about this company:
- detects 100,000 ships per day
- sells info to 50 customers (including ports, navies and governments)
- customers on 5 continents
- company gets its data by detecting over five million messages a day from automatic identification system (AIS) signals that passenger ships and ships over 300 tonnes (Class A vessels) are required to send out under international law (used to reduce collisions, etc).
The data can be used for a wide variety of applications, such as:
- Identifying and tracking ship traffic through specific areas, such as the Arctic routes that are opening up as the sea ice melts
- Monitoring whether ships are following maritime traffic laws or straying into protected areas
- Detecting illegal fishing and piracy, or coordinating search-and-rescue operations during natural disasters.
There are other companies that do similar things. For example, here’s one in the US:
ExactEarth’s satellites aren’t the only AIS detectors in space — Rochelle Park, N.J.-based Orbcomm sells data subscriptions similar to ExactEarth’s and already has AIS satellites in both equatorial and polar orbit. Norway launched its AISSat-1 in 2010 and the German Aerospace Center DLR’s AISSat is scheduled to blast off on an Indian launcher later this year.
For more on this story, see the original article here: CBC News.
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Photo credit: Guido Vrola – Fotolia.comAuthor on Google+