I’m a researcher at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/NOAA Joint Hydrographic Center in New Hampshire (research blog: http://schwehr.org/blog). I’ve been working with AIS for a couple of years now… ways to get information to mariners and ways to understand how mariners move about. After looking at the settings people put into their devices and configuring a bunch of units myself, I’ve seen that there are a lot of different styles for what is done. It would be a huge help to know what your strategy is for setting the vessel type, draught, length, width, name, call sign, ship and cargo type, ETA, and destination fields. Many vessels set it once and leave it, while others change one or more of these all the time. I’ve looked at a few books that are used for teaching and haven’t seen any guidance on best practices and the AIS standards documents don’t say much. Are you or someone above you setting some quidelines for what you do?
I got some great initial discussion:
A few of the things I see:
- Parameters set at AIS install time
- Parameters (sometimes partialy) changed when the vessel is sold
- There are ships that change when the pilot gets on board and then go right back after the pilot leaves
- Ships that look like they change with the watch stander changes
- Changes when a vessel enters of leaves port
- Random changes
- When there are power glitches (e.g. Nauticast devices that reset to factory defaults)
- Tugs that become Tows and some that change their length to match what they are towing.
- Tows that never change length or status even when not towing
- Vessels where the length randomly changes (turned out to be a lighting strike on the ship)
Understanding why you do what you do with your AIS device would be hugely helpful for those trying to use AIS to help understand what we see. We are looking at AIS to try to help direct where (in the US - NOAA) hydrographic offices will focus surveys and how to manage waterways better.
Here is an example of an interesting draught history for a vessel, while others are static (frequently with a draught of 0):
It would be great if we could start working towards best practices for the community!