The world of AIS can be both confusing to newcomers and experienced professionals alike. What actually is AIS? What data does it gather? How can it help my business? Do I need AIS if I don’t have a business? Class A or Class B transponders? Do I actually need it? There’s a plethora of questions from those looking to get the most out of their tracking tools, or from those looking into entering the maritime industry.
We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to AIS that covers a wide range of topics from specific AIS units to getting the most out of the data gathered. We’ve included some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the topic too. If you are ever in doubt, take some time to read through this document, if your question isn’t answered, feel free to contact BigOceanData.
What is AIS?
The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a worldwide automatic positioning system based on fitting small transponders to vessels that continuously transmits a signal. This alerts other vessels and shore stations with AIS receivers to the presence of that vessel. The position information is supplemented with additional information about the vessel. The signals and accompanying information can then be received by any vessel, land station or satellite fitted with an AIS receiver, and is then typically displayed on a screen using interactive chart-plotting software.
Who has AIS?
International maritime law requires AIS transponders to be fitted aboard international voyaging ships with a gross tonnage of 300 tonnes or more, and on all passenger ships regardless of their size. Given its visibility and safety advantages many smaller vessels also voluntarily install AIS units. In many countries no license is required to purchase and operate either transponders or receivers.
The result is that AIS is used almost universally in the worldwide commercial maritime industry and increasingly so in the leisure marine sector. Not all vessels can be tracked by AIS. Naval and security ships generally prefer not to be tracked when on active duty, and cases are regularly reported of commercial vessels underway with their transponders turned off for unspecified reasons. Read the entire Report here...