Employing AIS Data to Speed Digital Transformation
While the shipping industry continues to make progress on its digital transformation, the quality of data is critical to unlocking the full potential and helping to educate the industry on the role digital analysis can play in improving operations. Spire Global is working to improve the data flow to help the industry realize the potential of digitization and data analysis.
“We are still in the nascent stages of what technology and digital transformation can do for the industry,” says John Lusk, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Maritime for Spire Global. “As companies are educated on the potential in the data and new software and applications are developed, it will enable them to go faster and fuel the digital transformation curve for the maritime industry.”
Lusk points to some of the places where customers across the maritime industry are increasingly using data today. For example, ships and back offices are using the data from past voyages and weather patterns to enhance fuel efficiency in their operation. Shipowners are, of course, concerned about where their ship is or its current routing and can perform analysis of what might happen if you have inclement weather coming up. The data can also help operators to determine more accurately when a vessel will need to go in for maintenance.
The flow of data begins with the AIS transponders that are installed on every IMO registered vessel. It is easy to receive the data, but where the value is created is in how the data is cleaned and made available to the application providers and end-users. Spire Global Maritime designed, built, and deployed its nanosatellites, each the size of a wine bottle, and today has a constellation of 110 of these small satellites in a constant earth orbit collecting data from all the ships. Spire has an advantage because it has software on its satellites that permits it to implement frequent updates.
To unlock the value in the AIS data, it needs to be cleaned for example removing redundancies and preparing it so that it is easy for the engineers to access. Spire pulls the data down to its ground stations, prepares the data, and places it in the cloud integrating it with other data sets to provide high-quality information that is easy to access. The company also recently introduced an updated version of its solutions using new algorithms. They also became the first satellite AIS maritime data solution to offer GraphQL, an open-source query language that is being widely adopted by enterprise technology platforms as it makes data easier to access and integrate with outside platforms.
“There is value in AIS alone,” says Lusk, “but the real power of downstream applications and solutions comes from when you are integrating and combining that AIS with all kinds of other data sets. Working with that data is where you can garner the insights and observations that can help companies make much better, more efficient decisions.”
Spire is focusing on three segments of the industry where they believed data can have a particularly big impact. In addition to ships and shipping companies, they highlight the advantages for ports and logistics companies working with the challenges in the supply chain. For example, the ETA perspective helps ports to make more informed decisions for managing traffic while the data also helps logistics companies to manage the full spectrum of the supply chain.
Improvements are also coming to the market. For example, Spire points to the ability to reduce the latency in the data. All AIS systems generally run with anything from 30 to 45-minute delays, although with enhancements Spire expects soon to have its down under 15 minutes. For those users that need absolute real-time data, Spire recently announced an agreement to acquire exactEarth. The companies expect to complete the acquisition by calendar 2022 expanding their geographic footprint and bringing together the real-time and historic space-based maritime data. The combination will offer capabilities such as better fleet visibility for more efficient routing, cost savings from reduced fuel consumption, and a lower environmental footprint.
“The industry is starting to change,” concludes Lusk. As the quality of the data improves it will enable companies to move faster. He expects companies across the maritime industry to enhance their operations and address critical issues such as the challenges from backlogs and port congestion that are currently straining the global supply chains.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.