On my first day at MarineTraffic, it was suggested to me that I should spend a few hours speaking to everyone in the different departments so that I could get a better understanding of how the company operates. I was told it was the perfect way for a content manager to discover new stories.
I quickly came to the realisation that what makes MarineTraffic tick, is providing insightful and accurate data that helps the world get a better understanding of the global maritime industry. But it’s how we collect this information and the incredible amounts of data we process that truly staggered me.
For instance, did you know that MarineTraffic receives more than half a billion AIS messages every day? As Dimitris Vitoris from Tech Support told me, our servers routinely record approximately 19,000 NMEA AIS sentences every second.
“This means almost 520,000,000 position reports daily and up to 188,000,000,000 positions in a year,” Dimitris explained. “As our network expands we are confident that the impact our data makes in the industry will continue to grow at the same rate our server racks do,” said Dimitris.
Next up was a visit to Data Analyst Stellios Stratidakis, who explained that all the incoming AIS messages get processed and attributed to the relevant vessels.
“On average, about 180,000 distinct vessels transmit their position at least once during a day. This number is increasing as the MarineTraffic Network of AIS-receiving sources, Terrestrial and Satellite, keeps expanding,” said Stellios.
To find out more about how our existing AIS station network I spoke with George Touros, who is responsible for Network Relations.
He told me that right now MarineTraffic has close to 3,000 active AIS stations in all sorts of interesting locations around the globe.
“From Tierra del Fuego to Alaska and from Palau to Greenland, our ever-expanding terrestrial AIS network is also increasingly reliable and efficient. Our goal is to cover all of the world’s sea routes soon; a goal that’s actually not far from reality,” George claimed.
From Network Relations I headed upstairs to find the development team where Savvas Kampouridis, Head of Engineering, took some time out from his hectic day to explain to me what MarineTraffic means by the term events.
“There are several ship related dimensions and metrics that change at different intervals. Some are reported data, such as ship position, speed, draught and destination. Others are calculated, such as arriving or departing from a port, changing time zones, sailing in high winds or sailing in close proximity to other vessels,” Savvas told me.
He said through the years MarineTraffic has defined and started monitoring many different types of reported and calculated events.
“The last batch of events we started monitoring are berth calls, major strait crossings, and ECA zone enters and exits. All in all, we currently monitor forty different event types. The number of events generated grows ever so slightly every day,” Savvas revealed.
As Software Engineer George Patatoukas explained, all these events can be turned into notifications, which are delivered to users via email, sms or mobile push notifications.
“MarineTraffic delivers approximately 400,000 notifications per day, a number that has risen substantially over the last few years as we now offer more types of notifications while our user base and coverage also continue to grow,” said George.
Up next was Nicola Perobelli, Marketing Manager, who told me all this insightful and valuable data is being viewed by approximately half a million people daily.
“That means that on any given day we have 500,000 unique users on MarineTraffic. They come from 196 countries and speak 216 different languages highlighting the fact that MarineTraffic is a truly global service.”