Vessel Accident Investigation with AIS Data

Dec 16, 2021

AIS data (Automatic Identification System) plays a vital role in vessel accident investigation to improve the information related to the contributing factors. The analysis of the conditions is associated with the navigation accidents linked with AIS marine traffic or vessel accident. Therefore such investigations are among of other things are also based on the aggregated information that researchers have constructed. The AIS data is associated with the collision and groundings and the area of research. 

Some of the studies conducted support risk modeling that uses AIS data to obtain data to calculate the multiple types of accident frequencies linked with traffic volume. 

Vessel AIS data is known as an information resource for multiple industries and business spheres. It is used for traffic forecasting, safety assessment, empirical research, policymaking, etc. AIS helps to support real-time traffic surveillance that traffic controllers and sea areas conduct.

The representation of ship movements and information related to the ship identity, vessel tracker, or the position of the speed models has been renowned by many publications. 

AIS Data explained

AIS stands for automatic identification system and is a tracking system that allows us to see and exchange data between vessels and other marine bodies in medium to short-range distances in a particular area and displays real-time information about vessels. Vessels report their data and transmit it on certain radio frequencies. Maritime data providers like Datalastic gather, decode, and organize the data for users to make it accessible and structured. 

This may cause a lot of confusion, so it is important to understand what AIS is, and for that, we made the perfect guide for you in our blog!

Vessel AIS Data What It Is

Table of Contents. How does vessel AIS data help in accident investigation?

  1. Describing The Technical Procedures
  2. Normalization
  3. Obtaining Activity Data Indirectly  
  4. Locating Vessel Accident Report Data

1. Vessel Accident Investigation Technical Procedures

Every accident is different and requires a precise procedure for it as a follow-up. 

These are the 4 steps in the vessel accident investigation process

  1. Preserve and document the scene 
  2. Collect Data 
  3. Make root-cause analysis
  4. Find corrective measures 

We are going to focus on the second step of the vessel accident investigation in this article. Data collection is the crucial step and without it, it is not possible to evaluate and assess the correct steps to mitigate the risks in the future. 

Whereas applying activity data helps measure the risk, describing the technical procedures is better than the relevance or validity of the data. Any data can be vital whether pictures from the scene, historical events data, vessel location, position, speed course, weather, and more. The data’s availability determines the activity measures. 

Vessel AIS Data Technical Procedures
Ship AIS Data Normalisation

2. Vessel Investigation Normalisation

Certain vessel activities are linked to a higher risk. For example, vessels that pass through war zones are exposed to greater risks of underwater mines and other military activities. There are various studies of certain vessel actions and their correlation to the risks in the maritime industry. Those actions are called exposures. 

Many scientists work on the calculation of vessel accident rates using equations and accident and collision data from the vessels. Vessel Investigation statistics can sometimes show anomalies in data, biases, and other errors. Normalization is the process of data cleaning where those anomalies are either corrected or removed to be able to determine patterns and correlations in data essentially helping in creating a root-cause analysis. 

3. Obtaining Vessel activity Data Indirectly

It is a common approach to address the activity and exposure of the vessel using multiple types of available data. AIS data analysis facilitates the indirect approach to a vessel accident investigation. AIS data provides a range of vital information that can be used in vessel collisions, accidents, maneuvering errors, and other analyses. 
Typically, vessel accident analysts are interested in the following vessel data 

  • location 
  • route 
  • navigational status 
  • destination 
  • speed
  • course
  • heading 
  • draught 
Obtain Indirect Vessel AIS Data

AIS data represents the navigational behavior of the single vessel. The practical applications of activity data and accident rates are a lot where the activity data need to control traffic volume to compare the multiple locations to identify the accident-prone specifically, so the areas of application to compare with the accidents associated with different vessels categories and characteristics related with the vessels. It is connected with the classification society, shipping company, vessel design, etc. the activity level is linked while comparing the multiple accidents over time to determine the trends of safety levels that may influence the accident rates. 

4. Locating Vessel Accident Report Data

The raw AIS information is used to create categories that help in accident rates—the data of vessel’s types, classification, flag states, vessel age, and geographical areas.

All that data is used by scientists to create correlations and patterns and come to a concrete conclusion about the cause and the effect of the accident. Reporting is crucial as it allows to create follow-up steps to prevent it in the future. Oil spoilage, vessel damage, and sinking have a huge negative impact on the environment and the maritime business. Therefore, private and public entities put a tremendous amount of effort into understanding vessel accidents. 

AIS Data Vessel Location

Good industry practice is to after logging and analyzing all the data for each event in the database, to further divide it into the following themes related to vessel identity associated with: vessel name, IMO number, MMSI number, shipping company, society, flag state, etc. The vessel description is linked with the hull material, length, year of construction, etc. it is coupled with the geographical information, accident explanation, operational and weather conditions, etc.

It helps to describe that the ship categories constitute a nomenclature rather than a taxonomy. The new vessel taxonomy uses the vessel’s activity as a principle. 

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Our team would be happy to assist you with your questions anytime, so feel free to contact us to talk about how our data can help you grow your business or help you increase efficiency in maritime operations. 

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