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What is OpenAIS?

OpenAIS is a set of tools that are aimed at reducing the time, technical skills, and domain expertise required to derive meaningful insight from raw vessel tracking data. These tools are not aimed at replacing commercial services, or to make available datasets that users do not normally have access to, but instead allow users to quickly explore and use datasets that are already available to them in order to answer scientific questions and public good issues.

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a real-time, anti-collision system that has been in use for the last 20 years. The goal of this system is allow ships to be aware of each other while at sea. The result of this implementation is that ships have been broadcasting their identification and location for a while now. There are several online tools that you can use to track the location of vessels and some of these offer heatmaps to visualise vessel activity over extended time periods. What makes OpenAIS different is that the goal is to assist scientific researchers by:

  • Making AIS data available in a format that can easily be compared to other datasets
  • Provide statistical spatio-temporal aggregates to characterise vessel activity
  • Provide tools to process and visualise vast quantities of AIS data in near real time
  • It’s open source