e-Navigation Underway 2012 - update

By Brian at January 20, 2012 12:27
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Unfortunately, I had trouble with the on-board internet during the conference which ended today, so I was unable to tweet or post to the blog. I took copious notes, which I will try to summarize and post in a few installments over the next few days.

In the meantme, EfficienSea is posting video of all the presentations; though they haven't got around to mine yet. But you get to listen to the dulcet Icelandic-accented tones of my good friend Omar Frits Eriksson and the other presenters at the beginning of the conference.

Now, a final evening in Copenhagen then return to the States tomorrow.

EfficienSea e-Navigation Underway 2012

By Brian at January 16, 2012 16:43
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I'm on my way to the EfficienSea e-Navigation Underway conference in Copenhagen. I attended this event last year and it was one of the best e-Nav events I've been to. I look forward to more of the same for this year: e-Navigation developers and practitioners exchanging experiences and ideas aboard a vessel where e-Navigation concepts are being tested.

I'm presenting on day 2 of the conference and plan to cover the following topics, although my presentation is a work in progress and will be informed by the presentations on the first day of the conference:

  • Brief overview of the U.S. e-Navigation Strategy
    • Stakeholders and their contributions to e-Navigation
    • Identification of areas that require coordination
  • Test beds and coordinated efforts:
    • Data standardization and information sharing
    • Within the federal government
    • Between government and industry
    • Public-private partnerships
  • Leveraging capabilities on the inland waterways
    • Ohio River test bed
    • Data exchange
    • Coordinated use of communication technologies
    • AIS
    • Web services
  • Lessons learned
  • Future plans
    • River Information Services

 

I plan to blog during the conference and will be tweeting as @maritimespatial - along with many others if last year is any indicator.

 

USCG announces CRADA for alternative to GPS timing

By Brian at January 12, 2012 18:37
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In the Federal Register on January 11, 2012 the Coast Guard announced it was establishing an Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with UrsaNav, Inc. "to research, evaluate, and document... a wireless technical approach for providing precise time using U.S. government facilities and frequency authorizations."

The announcement said they plan to use old LORAN station locations and four frequency ranges:

  • LORAN frequencies (90-110 kHz)
  • dGPS frequencies (283.5-325 kHz)
  • HA-dGPS frequencies (435-490 kHz)
  • former international calling and distress frequency (500 kHz)
It will be interesting to see how this testing goes and to find out more about this technology. There has been a lot of speculation abut what the former LORAN and 500kHz distress frequencies would be used for and a lot of hopes they'd be used to expand communications bandwidth available for e-Navigation uses. Timing information is certainly a valuable component of e-Navigation and a reliable backup to GPS for timing is needed.

 

Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Lockmasters Workshop

By Brian at May 24, 2011 14:11
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The Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Lockmasters Workshop is being held near Pittsburgh Tuesday through Thursday, 24-26 May. This will be an outstanding forum to hear the concerns and needs of the folks actually workng the locks on the inland waterways and Great Lakes.  There are about 45 attendees, most from the Great Lakes and Ohio River area, but also some from other waterways. So far they've covered lock operator training and have an ambitious agenda for the rest of the workshop.

I'll be giving a presentation Wednesday morning on AIS, River Information Services (RIS) and LOMA and I anticipate a lot of questons and hopefully some good discussion. One of our LOMA beta testers will also be presenting his impressions of LOMA, so I look forward to hearing his unvarnished view of how it's working for him.

Here's some information about LOMA:

I can be contacted through blog at maritimespatial dot com for more information and questions.

RTCM 2011 - Tuesday random items

By Brian at May 17, 2011 14:38
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I saw a brief demonstration of Pharos Marine Automatic Power's iNav AIS analysis software; according to their website: "The first AIS Analyzer software program that gives the AIS network administrator a valuable tool to monitor and analyze Class A, Class B, Base Station and Aton AIS transponder performance on the AIS VDL."  Here's an image from their product sheet:

This is the first time I have seen an actual AIS "slot map" depicted.  It is described in various standards and guidelines, but it always seemed very conceptual to me. It is interesting to see that, as implemented by Automatic Power, it looks a lot like what I had in my mind.

The software also includes other valuable analysis tools, such as graphs of slot usage and VDL loading. You can also dig deeper into the graphs to get data on who is using the slots and what messages are being used. I can really see the value of this particularly in high VDL load areas such as we are seeing in New Orleans. It will be a big help in VDL management, including determining FATDMA assignment and figuring out other ways to reduce VDL loading, such as identifying moored vessels that are still in an "underway" nav status, thus transmitting more frequently than they actually should.

 

The main focus for today at RTCM 2011 was on electronic charts - basic information on what they are, their use in various applications and the collection and production of ENCs.  A good refresher and some new information.

 

As usual at RTCM the discussions between presentations and in the vendor suites are as interesting and valuable as the meeting agenda.  Some of us discussed some potential innovative uses of AIS, such as vessels transmitting their depth sounder readings with their position report.  This might allow those entities responsible for surveys (e.g., NOAA and the Corps of Engineers in the US) to monitor waterway depths in real time and get advance notice of potential shoal areas without having to do an expensive survey on their own. Of course there are technical issues, such as ensuring calibration of the sensor, making sure the depth of the sensor is known, whether to create a new AIS message, use spare bits in an existing message or "repurpose" a field in an existing message.  And of course there are policy issues, such as what liability there is for use of these soundings, how to use this information for making survey and dredging decisions and many others.

RTCM 2011: USCG regulatory updates regarding AIS

By Brian at May 16, 2011 10:30
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Larry Solomon from the Coast Guard Spectrum Management office provided his usual informative presentation at the 2011 RTCM Annual Meeting regulatory update session.  He covered USCG proposed changes to Part 80 of the FCC rules which govern maritime communications in the US.

He briefly touched on some problems with the current Part 80 - it has been 25 years since the last comprehensive revision to the regs and there are substantial changes that should be made to make them more usable.  There also are issues with regulations that use "incorporation by reference" (IBR), where another document (e.g., a technical standard) is referenced rather than including the whole text in the regulation. There are approximately 30 IBR updates pending due to hold up at the Federal Register office. Ideally there would be a comprehensive review of the Part 80 rules, but USCG doesn't have the resources to do this (estimated at 6 months to a year's worth of work).

However, there is an interesting proposal to create a new subpart (the currently-unused Subpart Q) to the Part 80 regs solely for AIS regulations. Right now AIS requirements are in various parts of part 80; Subpart Q would gather them together, including: Class A, Class B (SO and CS), AIS-SART, AIS AtoN, AIS testing. One question is whether other aspects of AIS management would fit into this subpart?  Issues such as VDL management, the process for creation and use of application specific messages, and other uses (and prohibitions on use) of the AIS service.

Jorge Arroyo concluded the update with a tantalizing promise that the semiannual regulatory agenda - due to be published any day at reginfo.gov - would include news on the "Final Action" for the AIS carrige requirements regulation. The NPRM was published in December 2008, and final comments were collected by mid-2009. Hopefully this will give us a light at the end of the tunnel for the expansion of the AIS carriage requirements. Jorge also reminded us of the very informative AIS information website he helps maintain with the USCG Navigation Center.

Coast Guard to suspend IRVMC reporting

By Brian at January 08, 2011 08:37
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The Coast Guard issued a temporary final rule suspending the reporting requirements for CDCs on the inland waterways.

The Inland Rivers* Vessel Movement Center (IRVMC) was established after 9/11 to track dangerous cargoes on the inland waterways.  Instead of using technology (in particular AIS), the Coast Guard mandated reporting at certain locations of vessel location and hazardous cargo.  These reports could be made by almost any means - electronically, or by radio, telephone, fax, email or carrier pigeon possibly.  In the 8+ years IRVMC was in place, little effort was made to shift to a fully-automated reporting system, which would have had the additional benefit of expanding the actual coverage area and probably increasing the security of the reported data.

Belatedly, the Coast Guard and Corps of Engineers are starting to work on prototype River Information Services (RIS) efforts that will ultimately provide IRVMC-like capabilities, and not just for the Coast Guard and not just in support of Homeland Security.  If implemented as envisioned, US RIS efforts will benefit the Coast Guard, the Corps and other Federal agencies; the navigation industry will also benefit from increased efficiency and single reporting of required information to the government.

However, these RIS efforts will take years to develop and implement, especially in these economic times.  It's a shame that the relatively flush years post-9/11 were not used to advance RIS and expanded AIS efforts.  Hopefully the good intentions and dedication of stakeholders, public and private, will overcome the financial hurdles.

 

*Are there any offshore rivers?

eNavigation 2010 underway in Seattle

By Brian at November 16, 2010 14:43
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The 2010 eNavigation conference is underway at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle.  About 100 participants have already been treated to presentations on identifying problems related to eNav.  Throughout the conference we will work on how to address these problems.

You can follow the conference on this blog and through Twitter - I'll be posting as @MaritimeSpatial and using the #eNav2010 hash tag.  Join the conversation!

VTS 2012 Symposium - First Announcement

By Brian at October 12, 2010 14:44
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The first announcement has been issued for the 2012 IALA Vessel Traffic Services Symposium, to be held in Istanbul, Turkey in September 2012.  They have also posted their website with preliminary information.

The Symposium topic areas include:

- VTS Role in Maritime Domain Awareness

- Provision of VTS in International Waters

- VTS and e-Navigation

- The Role of VTS in Port/Waterway Efficiency

- VTS Developments in Polar Regions

I hope to attend - with luck by then we will have significantly advanced our e-Navigation and River Information Services (RIS) efforts here in the US.  Perhaps a presentation on "RIS and VTS in the US" or an update on the development of AIS application specific messages that may be useful for VTS would be possible.

eNav8 group photo

By Brian at September 22, 2010 06:17
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Here are the 80+ 98 attendees of the IALA e-Navigation committee, 8th Session on the plaza outside IALA HQ in St. Germain en Laye on a beautiful September morning:

I'm right in the middle - good luck trying to pick me out among the crowd...