GIS for Tracking Vessels
Inland Waterway Lock/Vessel Optimization Study
Upper Mississippi River Locks 20-25
Center For Transportation Studies
University Of Missouri, St. Louis
15 June 2005
Scope and Team
1. Identify GIS and vessel tracking
applications for inland waterway transport
on the UMR.
2. Document appropriate technologies to
implement a vessel tracking system.
3. Develop a prototype GIS-based vessel
tracking system to assist in implementing
an appointment or scheduling system.
Ray Mundy, Ph.D.
James F. Campbell, Ph.D.
Will Winter, Denise Franke, Amrita Sinha
Real-time Tracking of
Provides more accurate
locations of tows.
Allows lockmasters to
better manage lockages.
of an appointment or
May provide collateral benefits: Safety,
Security, Environmental Protection,
Technology for tracking tows in real-time is
Vessel tracking is well established in many
Large operators on the UMR.
U.S. Coast Guard VTS areas and IRVMC.
St. Lawrence Seaway.
European inland waterways.
Port security and fisheries enforcement worldwide.
GIS Use on the UMR
Static Geographic Information Systems
(GIS) are widely used by organizations on
the UMR for a variety of purposes:
- Safety and security.
- Environmental protection.
- Federal, State and local governments (e.g.,
Corps, U.S. Coast Guard)
- Tow operators.
- Environmental organizations.
Vessel Tracking Examples
U.S. Coast Guard: IRVMC and
St. Lawrence Seaway.
RIS in Europe.
Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS).
Large operators track
their own tow boats.
- Some use commercial
- Others have proprietary
The U.S. Coast Guard tracks all hazardous
cargoes on the UMR (IRVMC).
Neither the Corps nor the Coast Guard
have real-time tracking of all commercial
vessels on the UMR-IW.
BOATRACS (now owned by AirIQ)
- 400 commercial fleets; >800 inland workboats.
- WATERCOM developed by ACBL in 1980s using
BargeTrak (StarTrak; originally rail car tracking)
Satamatics; SASCO; Information Technology Systems,
LLC; Meridian; Intellitrans, LLC; TransCore, etc.
U.S. Coast Guard
Tracks hazardous cargoes on UMR via
Inland Rivers Vessel Movement Center
(IRVMC) in St. Louis.
Tracks all commercial vessels at vessel
traffic service (VTS) locations.
- AIS (Automated Information Systems)
Expanding AIS throughout all navigable
Formed by Coast Guard in April 2003:
- “to ensure public safety, prevent
sabotage or terrorist acts, and
facilitate the efforts of emergency
services and law enforcement officers
responding to terrorist attacks.”
Tracks all certain dangerous cargoes (CDCs) in
Uses regulated navigation areas including UMR-IW.
- Applies to all towing vessel operators and fleeting area
managers responsible for the movement of barges
Explosives and blasting agents.
Poisonous gases and liquids.
Ammonium nitrate and certain
Bulk liquefied chlorine gas, and other
Owners and operators of covered barges
hauling CDCs are required to report position
and other information to the IRVMC.
IRVMC REPORTING POINTS
UPPER MISSISSIPPI (UMR)
DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 3
DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 4
DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 8
DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 11
DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 14
DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 18
DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 21
DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 25
ARRIVING and DEPARTING MELVIN PRICE (DB)
Required to report to the IRVMC via email
or toll free telephone or fax:
- Name of barge and towboat,
- Name of loading, fleeting and terminal facility,
- Estimated time of arrival (ETA) at:
loading, fleeting and terminal facilities,
148 designated reporting points,
- Planned route and estimated time of departure
(ETD) from facilities,
- Any significant departure from previously
Timing of reporting to the IRVMC:
- 4 hours prior to loading and to getting underway
with CDCs - and dropping off and picking up
CDCs from a fleeting area,
- At entry into, and departure from, the covered
- Upon arrival at the final destination with a
covered barge (if within the reporting area),
- At any time ETA varies by 6 hours from the
previously reported ETA,
- When directed by the Coast Guard.
IRVMC Tracking &
Have GIS display of vessels throughout U.S.
- Limited mapping capabilities.
- Position updates hourly and as required.
Tracking data provided by operators:
- Large tow operators send data electronically
from their traffic centers.
- Smaller operators use fax and phone.
Focus is on safety and security.
U.S. Coast Guard VTS
Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) Centers
Vessel Traffic Services Centers:
- Provide monitoring and navigational advice for
vessels in confined and busy waterways.
- Shift from safety and navigation emphasis to
Integrate data broadcast from vessels and
from land-based sensors at central location.
- Vessel data: AIS
- Land-based sensors: radar, VHF, infrared, closed
Put no additional burden on the mariner.
Automatic Identification Systems.
Developed by IMO (International Maritime
Organization) to improve maritime safety,
protect the environment, and improve VTS
Includes ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and
- Automatically broadcasts position, ID, and other
static, dynamic, and voyage related data.
- Receives data from other AIS units.
VTS New Orleans
VTS New Orleans
Sensors and cameras
transmit data back to
the vessel traffic
VTS Vessel Display
Operates on a 13 mile stretch of the Ohio
River during high water.
- Guides vessels through waters near the Falls of
Operated as a part-time “on demand"
- Manned by Active and Reserve duty personnel.
Operates 45 days each year on average, but
has operated for as long as 106 days.
St. Lawrence Seaway
15 locks: 740’ long;
80’ wide; 30’ deep.
Montreal – Lake Ontario:
- 22-24 hours transit time.
- 2 U.S. locks.
- 5 Canadian locks.
- Connects lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
- 27 miles, 8 locks (Canadian).
3 Seaway Traffic Control Centers:
- AIS implemented starting in 2002.
St. Lawrence Seaway
- 2 locks (Eisenhower and Snell) in middle of
- Managed by St. Lawrence Seaway Development
Corp. (SLSDC - agency within DOT).
- 13 locks at ends of Seaway.
- Managed by St. Lawrence Seaway Management
Corp. (SLSMC - private not-for-profit corp.)
- Locks owned by Government of Canada.
St. Lawrence Seaway
Seaway Control Center
St. Lawrence Seaway
Seaway TMS and AIS
Traffic Management System (TMS):
- Manages data for all transits and vessels.
- Broadcasts safety and navigation information to vessels.
AIS integrated into TMS in 2002.
- Vessels also report at call in points.
- Cost = $2.1 million.
- Estimated savings = $300,000/year.
Do not generally re-sequence vessels at locks.
- Little variability in lockage times (all lockages are a single
Traffic management still relies heavily on voice
AIS and TMS Cost
System reqs, AIS survey,
Europe - RIS
RIS: River Information Services
- “a concept for harmonized information services
which supports traffic and transport management
in inland navigation, including interfaces to other
Broad geographic and
- 30,000 km of waterways in 11
- 11,500 vessels (mainly self
- 77.5 billion ton-miles in 2003.
Uses common systems to link:
Lock, harbor and terminal operators.
Also used for:
- Law enforcement.
- Statistical data collection.
- Waterway charges and port fees.
Broader than U.S. Coast Guard IWS (Intelligent
Waterways System) initiative.
INDRIS: 1998 – 2002
- Explored AIS and inland ECDIS (electronic chart
display information systems).
- Developed framework and standards for
communications and data.
- Identified value added services beyond VTS.
COMPRIS: 2002-2005 (44 partners).
- Final phase before full-scale implementation.
- Provides architecture and standards for RIS:
Functional, Information, Data, Physical and
- Improved competitiveness of the inland waterways.
- Optimized use of lock and terminal infrastructure.
- Improved safety and security.
- Enhanced environmental protection.
Benefit – Cost ratios*:
- 5 for society.
- 3.5 for pilots.
- 1 for waterway authorities.
an INDRIS demonstration project on the Rhine River.
Lock navigation aid to assist pilots in the
- Developed for Port of Pittsburgh.
Provides precise information, in near-real
- Distances between the tow and lock, and
- Conditions at the lock, such as dam opening,
river & wind conditions.
Uses differential GPS (DGPS) for high
Provides the pilot with
information overlaid on an
electronic navigation chart
Example: A tow
lock from upstream.
- Distances of the bow and
stern from the guide wall.
- Distance from the bow to
- Information about
conditions (wind, dam
opening, current, etc.).
Benefits & Costs
Improves reliability, predictability, safety and
efficiency at the lock.
- Allowing locking in fog ($58 million/yr).
- Speeding lockages by 10 minutes ($10
- Reducing accidents: (>$1 million/yr).
- Towboat cost: approximately $14,000.
- Cost at lock: estimated at less than $13,000.
VIPS – Vessel Identification
and Positioning System
- Developed by Volpe Center.
- Used for Columbia River,
Boston Harbor, Cape Cod
VMS (vessel monitoring
systems) for fisheries.
80 km with 6 pairs of locks in 3 sets.
- 8-10 hours to transit.
CTAN (Communication, Traffic Management
and Navigation) system since 2000.
Track well in advance of
- Pre-arrival notice of 96
Use portable GPS/AIS
units for transit ($150).
Extends technology from Panama Canal and
St. Lawrence Seaway
Focus on port security.
- Combines AIS (Automatic Identification Systems)
information and shore and ship-based remote
- Geographic display includes automated alerts.
Also used for navigation and environmental
Vessel Monitoring Systems.
- Required by NMFS for compliance in
certain off-shore fisheries.
- Hourly polling for locations of vessels.
- Many commercial providers of VMS
Use satellite-based systems.
- Argos, Inmarsat, OrbComm, Boatracs, etc.
Cost split between owners and government.
Technologies for Vessel
1. Find vessel position.
GPS, Triangulation with satellites
or shore-based antenna.
2. Communicate vessel position
to shore station.
Satellite, VHF Radio, AIS.
3. Integrate information for traffic
Communications links to traffic
- GPS: accuracy to 10 meters.
- DGPS: accuracy much better.
- Other satellite systems: lesser accuracy.
- Standard telecom methods:
Satellite, radio, microwave, land lines, etc.
Current satellite systems provide
a variety of options:
- ARGOS, Inmarsat, Boatracs,
- Technology Assessment of Mobile
Satellite System Alternatives”, U.S.
Coast Guard R&D Center, 1998.
Many vendors provide packages
(equipment + software) for
communications and positioning.
Inmarsat & OrbComm
- Focuses on maritime safety worldwide and GMDSS
(Global Maritime Distress and Safety System).
- Heavily used for ocean carriers and fishing fleets.
- 30 satellites provide global coverage.
- Received Coast Guard contract in June 2004 to
provide AIS capability.
Plan new satellite launch in 2006 for AIS.
- Partners provide tracking and communication
Maritime version of QUALCOMM’s OmniTracs.
- Accuracy: ~100 meters.
- Combines location and secure communications.
- Leases space on satellites.
Provides automatic hourly updates and
position with every message.
Used on UMR and in TSA sponsored test on
Columbia and Snake Rivers in 11/2003.
Cost per boat: $3500 + $150/month for
Ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and shore-toship communications with broadcasting
radius ~20-30 miles.
Required on commercial vessels on
- Towing vessels over 26 feet and 600 hp.
- Self propelled commercial vessels over 65 feet.
- Passenger vessels with more than a specified
number of passengers.
Vessels in VTS and Vessel Movement
Reporting Service (VMRS) areas.
AIS Data & Equipment
Automatically broadcasts static, dynamic,
and voyage related data.
- Static data:
Vessel ID, length and beam, type, antenna location.
- Dynamic data:
Position, course, speed, heading, rate of turn.
- Voyage related data:
Draft, hazardous cargo type, destination, ETA.
Receives data from other AIS units.
Vessel unit includes positioning (e.g., GPS),
microprocessor and VHF-FM transceiver.
Improved safety and security:
- Safer operations in foul weather.
- Better environmental protection.
- Better emergency response.
- Reduced transit times.
- Better scheduling of lockages and vessel tie-ups.
- Better scheduling of inspections and pilotage
AIS on the UMR?
Coast Guard: “Recognizing that AIS may
ultimately be required…what waterways
should be implemented before others?”
- Add AIS on Mississippi River below St. Louis and
give high priority to this Illinois River.
- Give lesser priority to Upper Mississippi.
- “doubts that…AIS will substantially improve the
mariner’s ability to safely and efficiently navigate
the Mississippi River…”
Letters to Docket Management Facility, Dept. of Transportation, RE:
USCG-2003-14878-75 and USCG-2003-14757-101
Vessel Tracking Lockage
Collects, manages and displays appropriate
information for a scheduling system.
- Integrates tow tracking and traffic (and lock) management.
- The information needed depends on the type of traffic and
Geographic scope ranges from:
- Single lock and adjacent pools.
- Multiple locks and pools.
- Entire riverway.
Vessel location data ranges from:
- Existing data (OMNI).
- Near-real time locations (e.g., every hour).
- Real time locations.
Issues for Finding Tow
Key issues are how and when to find and
communicate tow locations.
How much does real time or near-real time
vessel tracking add for reducing congestion?
How much positional and temporal accuracy
is needed on the UMR?
- Cost increases with positional and temporal
accuracy (more call in points or more frequent
What type of vessel tracking is best?
- Ability to partner with other relevant parties?
U.S. Coast Guard?
- When will AIS be required on the UMR?
How to find locations?
- Automatic: Remote sensing, AIS, etc.
- Manual (reporting by tows).
When to report locations?
- At specified call in points: How many?
- At periodic intervals: How often?
1. Track tows using the existing (OMNI) data.
2. Track tows using near-real time data
reported by the vessel/carrier (IRVMC).
3. Track tows using real time tow tracking
with traffic management centers (St.
4. Do nothing.
Tow Tracking Summary
Real time and near-real
time tow tracking is
certainly feasible on the
Technologies for tow
tracking are well tested.
Integration of tow tracking
and lock scheduling is
feasible, but not yet in