Inland Marine Transportation Data Collection Using Automatic Identification Systems

Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) are a technology that has revolutionized vessel traffic control and marine navigation collision avoidance. Ships digitally exchange information including vessel name, position, course, speed, and navigation status. This information is also exchanged with shore-based vessel traffic services (VTS). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) collects, maintains and distributes U.S. navigable waterway waterborne commerce data. Owing to the sensitive nature of this data, vessel trips and tonnage data is aggregated to protect the business book information of marine carriers. However, the level of this aggregation undermines the ability for researchers to perform detailed risk analysis. A recent study performed by Vanderbilt University found that USACE trips and drafts data are too aggregated to be useful in risk calculations. Vessel traffic is reported on segments as long as 700 miles (Upper Mississippi River), instead of much smaller stretches of waterway, such as port to port. This project will install an AIS receiver at two locations along the Lower Mississippi River (Columbus, Kentucky and Memphis, Tennessee). These receivers, in conjunction with a VHF antenna and internet-connected PC, will continuously log AIS data for a period of at least six months. This log of data will be archived and researchers will design and develop a means of analyzing and visualizing the information. Researchers at Vanderbilt completed a pilot project (September 2010) where archived AIS data from was visualized inside a geographic information system (GIS). One of the key challenges was how to utilize the large amount of data generated. The pilot study captured an average of 350,000 vessel positions per day in New Orleans, LA. Each one of these positions represents a record in a database, and custom GIS routines will have to be developed to make sense of the positions, such as vessel tracks, where the positions are connected to represent the waterway transit. The benefits of this project include the potential for an improved, automated means of tracking waterborne commerce in the U.S. Other potential benefits include validation of existing trip data, development of a methodology for archiving and interpreting large amounts of GIS data, and the creation of detailed vessel trip data for use in emissions and planning models.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $100000.00
  • Contract Numbers:


    CAIT 7

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Center for Advanced Intermodal Technologies

    University of Memphis
    3815 Central Avenue
    Memphis, TN  United States  38152-3370
  • Performing Organizations:

    Vanderbilt Center for Transportation Research (VECTOR)

    Box 1831, Station B
    Vanderbilt University
    Nashville, TN  United States  37235
  • Principal Investigators:

    Dobbins, James

  • Start Date: 20110101
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20111231
  • Source Data: RiP Project 27989

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01463731
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Vanderbilt University
  • Contract Numbers: ED-08-22799-00, CAIT 7
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 2:29PM