Like ships parsing in the night

The maritime Automatic Identification System (AIS) means that every seagoing vessel over 300 tons is required to transmit certain data every few seconds, including:

  • Navigation status, e.g. ‘at anchor’ or ‘underway’
  • Ground speed, from 0 to 102 knots in steps of 0.1 knots
  • Rate of turn, 0 to 720 degrees per minute
  • Position (GPS latitude and longitude)
  • Heading and Course over Ground
  • Time stamp

Then every six minutes “static” information is transmitted:

  • MMSI number, Callsign, Ship’s name, Type of ship, Width, length and draught, Destination and ETA

Bear with me: the data gets written to a database and pulled out, probably as xml because the structure of the data is similar to the element/attribute/schema nature of xml. As we know, that’s all you need to start displaying that data in exciting ways. The result is a web-viewable mashup of all these vessels around the globe.


Like GPS, the information is largely open and available to the general public. Like financial information of funds, government and public companies should be? 

There have been concerns raised about XBRL having most of the specifications being tied down, but no software implementors to bring the solutions to market. While the tagging software is quite mature, there is a dearth of meaningful and fast analytical or comparison applications.


I still maintain that once the graduates of Web 2.0 find little appetite in the market for social media gadgets, they’ll turn their attention to Enterprise 2.0 applications. These excellent marine shipping examples put the implementation aspect of XBRL to shame.



About Derek

My key interests are online investor relations, websites, social media, enterprise 2.0 and intranets, and XBRL. Speak to me if you need a solution in any of these disciplines, or follow my knowledge links on this site and others. Find me on Twitter, LinkedIn or in recent conversations.