What is AIS and why do we need it?

Posted by Nicole Pereira

Recently on our Facebook Page there has been discussion on one of our posts about an upcoming webinar. The person asked, “What is AIS?”  Another Facebook user quickly responded and I thought his reply was spot on:

“AIS stands for Automatic Identification System. It gives pertinent navigation information for ships, tug and barges and boats. Depending on how the navigation equipment is set up, it can show on radars, chart plotters etc.”

To give you a bit more history on how AIS came about.  AIS, in its most basic form, was developed in the 1990s. In 2002 regulation was developed in the IMO SOLAS Agreement that mandated that international vessels over 300GT must have a Class A type AIS transceiver. In 2006 the standard was changed include a Class B AIS transceiver, offering a more cost effective AIS system that can be deployed on smaller vessels. Typically, AIS signals had been captured by vessels and land based antennas, but since 2008 there have also been satellite companies that have begun to capture ship-based AIS signals from space, increasing the ability for shore-side users to enhance maritime domain awareness, even for ships in open water. 

OperationsSpecialistVTS resized 600



A U.S. Coast Guard Operations Specialist using AIS and en:RADAR to manage vessel traffic. (source: wikipedia)




The primary purpose for AIS has been collision avoidance and SOLAS.  However, since vessels started transmitting AIS, shore-side users have found other benefits, including:

  • Fleet Monitoring
  • Vessel Traffic Services
  • Maritime Security
  • Navigational Assistance
  • Search & Rescue
  • Incidence Response and Investigation
  • Compliance
  • Market intelligence

For us here at PortVision, AIS is a part of our daily vocabulary.  However, it is clear that not everyone in the maritime industry may understand what this means and how this affects them.  If you visit our website at www.portvision.com and click on the “My Focus” tab, you will begin to see just how many different ways the maritime industry has found to take advantage of this data.

Have a specific need that you think can be met with the increased visibility from AIS?  Then contact us – we would be happy to brainstorm with you and point you in the right direction.

PortVision 360 AIS Vessel Tracking

Posted on Sep 9, 2013 2:23:00 PM

Topics: Blog