AIS stands for ‘Automatic Identifications System’ and is used by vessels to automatically transmit their position. Whilst commercial vessels have used AIS for many years, reducing costs and improved equipment has allowed the fishing and recreational communities to benefit from AIS technology. In recent times an increasing number of smaller craft are fitting AIS technology to their vessels.
AIS data is a valuable source of safety information for vessels, especially in areas that are not covered by port Vessel Traffic Services (VTS). Many port and harbour authorities collect this information but are unable to interrogate and map the information in a meaningful way. ABPmer has specialised in decoding and mapping AIS for a range of marine safety and planning applications.
AIS data has a special role in defining the use of the sea by vessel traffic. Once collected and processed, it can be used to inform future development needs, marine risk profiling, marine planning and navigational risk assessments for planning and consent purposes. The data can also be used to derive detailed maps of regional seas or port and harbour jurisdictions.
ABPmer processed the UK’s AIS data for 2015 for the Marine Management Organisation, using information collected by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s AIS network. The outputs included data layers of transits by vessel type and an average weekly vessel density grid (heat map) for the UK.