AIS needs proper data to be effective
By Rick Booth
Manny Fillman sighs. “Garbage in, garbage out.”
He’s talking about the computer that runs Cape Cod Canal’s Automatic Identification System receiver. Fillman is a watchstander in the canal control center. The problem is those triangles, each representing a hull somewhere within VHF range. The pink ones (colors are set by the Army Corps of Engineers software) are commercial vessels with Type A transponders. The law requires commercial vessels to have AIS.
Fillman clicks on the triangle of his last radio contact, a McAllister tug that just left the canal’s east entrance. A pop-up box shows everything Fillman could want to know about the tug: name, captain, length, beam, draft, VHF call sign. Everyone who has an AIS receiver can see it.