RTCM 2011 - Tuesday random items

By Brian at May 17, 2011 14:38
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I saw a brief demonstration of Pharos Marine Automatic Power's iNav AIS analysis software; according to their website: "The first AIS Analyzer software program that gives the AIS network administrator a valuable tool to monitor and analyze Class A, Class B, Base Station and Aton AIS transponder performance on the AIS VDL."  Here's an image from their product sheet:

This is the first time I have seen an actual AIS "slot map" depicted.  It is described in various standards and guidelines, but it always seemed very conceptual to me. It is interesting to see that, as implemented by Automatic Power, it looks a lot like what I had in my mind.

The software also includes other valuable analysis tools, such as graphs of slot usage and VDL loading. You can also dig deeper into the graphs to get data on who is using the slots and what messages are being used. I can really see the value of this particularly in high VDL load areas such as we are seeing in New Orleans. It will be a big help in VDL management, including determining FATDMA assignment and figuring out other ways to reduce VDL loading, such as identifying moored vessels that are still in an "underway" nav status, thus transmitting more frequently than they actually should.


The main focus for today at RTCM 2011 was on electronic charts - basic information on what they are, their use in various applications and the collection and production of ENCs.  A good refresher and some new information.


As usual at RTCM the discussions between presentations and in the vendor suites are as interesting and valuable as the meeting agenda.  Some of us discussed some potential innovative uses of AIS, such as vessels transmitting their depth sounder readings with their position report.  This might allow those entities responsible for surveys (e.g., NOAA and the Corps of Engineers in the US) to monitor waterway depths in real time and get advance notice of potential shoal areas without having to do an expensive survey on their own. Of course there are technical issues, such as ensuring calibration of the sensor, making sure the depth of the sensor is known, whether to create a new AIS message, use spare bits in an existing message or "repurpose" a field in an existing message.  And of course there are policy issues, such as what liability there is for use of these soundings, how to use this information for making survey and dredging decisions and many others.