Vessel monitoring data can be augmented with weather forecasts and operational information
Insights into shipping markets, cargo trading and navigation can be derived from the latest vessel tracking information from the automatic identification system (AIS).
Charterers, traders, ship and port operators, vessel owners and bridge crews gain information and analysis from processing AIS data.
Getting this information from ships to customers involves several steps and interfaces from a global constellation of satellites and network of coastal receptors, while captains can view AIS signals from surrounding vessels on bridge equipment.
The next phase of utilising AIS for safe and efficient navigation would be to incorporate it into a global system for just-in-time (JIT) port arrival.
Spire Maritime director of maritime data operations Mark Deverill says AIS data for vessel tracking will help shipowners and operators to avoid idling at anchorage prior to entering ports, lowering fuel consumption, reducing emissions and improving fleet utilisation.
Spire is one of the main suppliers of AIS data from a constellation of 120 satellites, with the latest satellite launched June 2022.
Mr Deverill says satellite AIS helps users to “increase data-driven decisions and gain competitive advantage”. AIS can be used to track vessels, predict their arrival at ports and provide forecasting services.
“Spire Maritime provides data and tools to predict arrivals and metrics around port operations,” says Mr Deverill. It can monitor vessel traffic on a global basis and track individual ships, monitor vessels’ arrival and departure from anchorages and map next-destination ports.
This is achieved with dynamic AIS, combining three types of AIS collection including a terrestrial network and satellite AIS. Data is delivered through application programming interfaces (APIs) and messages to graphical displays.
“We enhance our data with vessel characteristics data, AIS deduplication and cleaning, by matching destinations with predicted routes and estimated time of arrival (ETA),” Mr Deverill says.
Spire’s satellite constellation sees 250,000 unique vessels each day, including 67,000 IMO-registered vessels and 350M messages per day. It has held a comprehensive database of AIS information since 2019.
It provides data and tools to predict arrivals and metrics around port operations, to monitor vessel traffic and remove errors from AIS messages.
Under dynamic AIS, data is processed to improve vessel tracking in the world’s busiest shipping areas by combining three types of AIS into one service.
Spire can add 35 parameters, providing further vessel information within the Vessels API such as capacity, design, dimensions, history, propulsion, registration, vessel and trading type.
It aims to provide a complete representation of each ship based on AIS messages, external data sources and analysing ship behaviour. AIS data can also be linked to maritime weather forecasts and ports data.
“We can create data on port congestion and turnaround times and forecast weather-related risks along a route,” says Mr Deverill. “We can predict ETAs, matching them with the destination port information. We can then verify or correct the reported ETA from AIS.”
Spire data allows users to monitor movements outside ports to verify congestion reports and recognise which ports have the longest waiting times, by monitoring ships at anchorage points outside ports and their movement into harbours.
Analysts can then monitor congestion around ports and provide ships with information on the expected waiting times at anchorages before their arrival. Spire has developed a port congestion tool and a global index, using AIS data to identify the worst vessel waiting times.
Its weather data enables long-period forecasts along routes and ports, which can be fed into voyage plans.
“After the tracking, port activity monitoring, route and ETA prediction, the final parts of the equation are weather services and adding the arrival predictions without direct operational involvement,” says Mr Deverill.
Spire provides weather forecasts and historic data for maritime and ports and weather risk analysis along proposed ports.