How to Access Maritime AIS Data?

Aug 10, 2018 | AIS Tracking, Live Vessel Tracking, Maritime Traffic

Schema how Datalastic obtains data

First, before we start answering the question how to access AIS data, let’s briefly explain what is AIS and how it works.  

What is AIS? 

  • AIS stands for Automatic Identification System
  • Automatic Identification System is used to detect vessels parameters such as location, speed, course, and direction. 
  • Both Terrestrial and satellite receivers can exchange AIS data. 
  • AIS Sattelites arent the same as GPS satellites.
  • AIS is an active system, where a ship transmits its location. GPS is passive, where a ship receives signals from satellites and uses them to calculate its location.
  • International Maritime Organization (IMO) made it mandatory to ships to have AIS reporting devices on board. 
  • Vessels report their data to AIS receiver frequently between 3 sec. up to a few minutes depending on weather conditions.
  • You can access AIS data for ship tracking, analysis, and forecast purposes. 

How Does Datalastic Access AIS Data?

Datalastic owns its own AIS towers where it gathers the data in raw NMEA format (see below). Later Datalastic decodes and structures the data with ETL (Extract Transform Load) data procession method and offers it to the API users. This way you receive the data first hand.

Datalastic has various partners in the field where the data is obtained and cross-checked for quality improvement.  

Datalastic gathers a vast amount of maritime-related data and stores it in its data warehouse. First, a ship reports its information to AIS receivers. The information which is reported includes location, course, speed, MMSI, and more. Moreover, a ship crew can even report its captain’s name and some welcome message if it wishes.

Second, this information transmits on VHF radio waves in National Marine Electronics Association format (NMEA). Here is an axample of what NMEA data looks like:

$GPGGA,181908.00,3404.7041778,N,07044.3966270, W,4,13,1.00,495.144,M,29.200,M,0.10,0000*40


Third, Datalastic and partners decode the data and store it in its databases.

How Can You Use Maritime Data?

 All in all, after Datalastic gathers AIS data, developers can access it via REST API on

You can use the data to track ships, perform analytics or integrate maritime data in your application or project for further uses. Also, based on your project and integration with dynamic maritime AIS data it is only up to you, your imagination and creativity how to use the information. 

To conclude, it is up to you how to use the API key to get maximum out of vessels data. Give it a try and see how flexible and intuitive it is to use with Datalastic API. 



AIS data use diagram