Marine Exchange of Alaska's Vessel Tracking System - Introduction
One of the most basic services any Marine Exchange provides is the answer to the question, “Where are the ships?” Answering this question in Alaska is a challenge which MXAK has spent the past several years trying to overcome. To meet this challenge, MXAK relies on the constantly-evolving technology of electronic vessel tracking. We currently use two methods of electronic tracking:
Automatic Identification System (AIS)
In short, AIS is a piece of navigational equipment carried aboard many vessels (whether required by regulations or voluntarily). This equipment transmits vessel information such as name, position, course, speed, etc on regular intervals – in most cases this info is transmitted every few seconds, or virtually “real-time".
MXAK has been building a network of AIS receivers throughout Alaska to capture these transmissions for the purposes of tracking the vessels operating in and around Alaska’s waterways. The graphic below shows the current locations of MXAK’s receivers (click on map to enlarge):
Long-Range Satellite Tracking
Unfortunately the AIS receivers above can only see so far offshore, and there will always be portions of Alaska without AIS coverage. In these cases, MXAK uses several different forms of satellite tracking for those customers who routinely operate well offshore, or in very remote areas of Alaska. Because the cost of tracking a vessel using satellite increases with the number of reports it sends, the reporting interval is programmed to meet the needs of the customer (generally one report every several hours). Both of our display systems are capable of displaying both satellite and AIS position data.