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Automatic Identification Systems Data Applications


With increasing use by ports and government agencies of AIS methods to quantify air emissions and fuel consumption, examples of possible application of AIS data may be helpful in inspiring new data analysis or policy initiatives based on AIS data. A compendium of AIS applications would be informative and may include, but not be limited to the following:

· Identification of high emitting vessels that frequently visit a port of interest; this could be used to prioritize vessel eligible for mitigation programs. AIS could also be used to map these vessels to other ports they visit that would also benefit from the application of emission reduction technologies (particularly if the ports are located in a nonattainment area).

· AIS to transmit data on weather via satellite.

  • Assist in vessel routing to address port congestion or during extreme weather events (e.g. hurricanes of flooding).
  • Use of AIS/GIS tools to identify elevated exposure to diesel PM and hazardous air pollutants (heat maps).
  • Assess average wait times at anchorage locations by port to identify where port efficiencies could improve and thereby reduce idling emissions.
  • Mapping actual vessel traffic patterns for siting of offshore wind farms.
  • Provide better assessment of arctic shipping lanes to prioritize depth mapping, positioning of emergency response equipment and necessary infrastructure to insure safe passage.
  • Monitoring vessel activities in port reduced speed zones, fishing areas, designated lightering zones, and whale migratory pathways to ensure compliance with appropriate rules.

This compilation of example AIS applications, would include a short summary of the issue being addressed and how AIS data helps in visualize appropriate information to inform decision makers. Each example could be limited to a couple of pages and include contacts and references to allow the reader to get more details if they are interesting.


To create a living on-line database that participants could append descriptions of their AIS applications in order to share with others who may be considering implementation of similar activities.


It is anticipated that by sharing AIS applications with others, important lessons learned can be transferred and such a dataset of ideas may encourage the development of new applications, yet to be considered. This database may also be useful in assessing additional data fields that could be incorporated into an AIS transmittal that would further enhance usage of AIS data to more accurately evaluate environmental impacts.

Related Research:

Though TRB developed special report 273: Shipboard AIS displays; the focus of the report was on the needs of the mariners, not larger applications of AIS data.


Prior to developing a simple database, existing studies need to be compiled to get a sense of the data fields that need to be included in the database. Once these fields are identified than the database structure can be developed and populated with the identified studies. A hosting site will need to be set up and interested parties informed of the availability of the database.

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Phase 1 - Compilation of applications

· Compile and review preliminary examples of AIS analysis and uses.

· Identify likely users for this database tool.

· Meet with stakeholders to assess available data and useful data elements and structure.

Phase 2 - Database development

· Develop and populate database based on insight developed in Phase 1.

· External testing of database by stakeholders.

Phase 3 - Outreach


Develop a list of possible groups to host the database and contact them to find an interested party.

· Develop a list of agencies that have previously developed interesting AIS data applications and contact them via email or online postings, informing them that there is a forum that they can post future AIS data analysis.


Prepare outreach material for dissemination on the web and by interested parties that highlights the value of the compiled studies and functionality of the database. Consider demonstrating the database at conferences and workshops.


This outreach material should be posted on TRB’s website.


Agencies such as IMO, USACE, USCG, NOAA, MARAD, the U.S. EPA, BTS, Argonne Lab, BOEM, trade association such as the American Association of Port Authorities., and NGOs may find this database helpful in the analyzing uses of AIS data to study vessel operations and mitigation strategies.


This project could be of considerable value to the USACE, USCG, NOAA, MARAD, BTS, EPA, Argonne lab’s GREET model, and BOEM.

Sponsoring Committee:AW030, Marine Environment
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:Medium
RNS Developer:Richard Billings
Source Info:Source Information:
M. Fiorini, A. Capata, D. BloisiM. AIS Data Visualization for Maritime Spatial Planning. International Journal of e-Navigation, and Maritime Economy. Dec 2016.

J. Pereira, N. Pereira, A Cavalcanti da Cunha, Use of AIS Data to Study Patterns of Navigation Behavior in the Macapa and Santana/AP/ Brazil Ship Monitoring Area, Journal of Aquaculture and Marine Biology, June 2019.

M. Le Tixerant, D. Le Guyader, F Gourmelon and B. Queffelec, How Can AIS Data be Used for Maritime Spatial Planning Ocean and Coastal Management, 2018

US Committee on the Marine Transportation System, Maritime Data Integrated Action Team Enhancing Accessibility and Usability of AIS Data. March 2019.
Date Posted:11/01/2020
Date Modified:01/25/2021
Index Terms:Identification systems, Detection and identification system applications, Data analysis, Port operations, Pollutants, Fuel consumption,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Marine Transportation
Data and Information Technology
Freight Transportation
Planning and Forecasting

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