“Embrace new technologies” risks becoming an empty slogan. Whatever the problem, whether it be meeting sustainability targets, advancing employee wellbeing, navigating supply chain disruption or improving port operations, maritime organisations continue to adopt advanced tools as a means of improving their daily operations

For maritime search and rescue (SAR), where lives are at stake, adopting new tools to improve operations and decision making is essential. There is no scope for insufficient use of technology in the maritime SAR industry.

MarineTraffic (from Kpler), one of the newest members of the IMRF, began as a collaborative research project among global academics using existing Information & Communication Technology (ICT). Its widespread interest soon saw the site established as the go-to vessel-tracking program. Today, it provides free near real-time information to the public regarding global vessel positions and movements, as well as other related information such as ports, traffic and voyage details.

While an entertaining way to pass the time for maritime enthusiasts, it's more than just a colourful live representation of the titanic scale of global shipping. MarineTraffic is increasingly used as a priority tool in daily SAR operations and training, such as tracking their assets and casualty vessels.

Real-time vessel tracking and maritime information services have proven invaluable for SAR operations. Identifying potential targets for rescue procedures using tracking systems based on consistently updated AIS data means improved efficiency as previous vessel routes and behaviours can be reconstructed to analyse and even predict distress situations.

“We know that being able to share information and coordinate efforts with other maritime stakeholders is a core aspect of any SAR operation,” said Schalk van Bosch, AIS Network Development Manager at Kpler.

“Likewise, alerts for specific vessels and the ability to pinpoint a disaster scenario are the effective bread and butter of rescue work. Rather than reinventing the wheel, MarineTraffic expands and complements these essential tasks. Communicating with coast guards, maritime authorities, commercial vessels and search ships based on user-defined criteria and setting up notifications makes emergency response much easier.”

With maritime SAR professionals often volunteers that have limited time to engage with ongoing training sessions, it is often vital that they systems they use during their tenure are simple to use. Likewise, more full-time SAR professionals, systems need to be easy to use in order to make their positions more effective. 

Support and training for users, including tutorials, documentation and customer service assistance is, therefore, necessary and something MarineTraffic has thankfully maintained within the maritime SAR community, having established cooperative relationships through initiatives such as data sharing agreements, workshops and joint projects and research.

As a demonstrably useful tool for one of the most important maritime sectors, MarineTraffic, as an IMRF member, can now develop stronger and closer relationships with maritime SAR organisations globally. The maritime SAR community and industry partners continues to collaborate effectively, ensuring our SAR professionals have access to the best systems and technology available to improve situational awareness and save more lives at sea: an ideal situation for an industry that is constantly searching for the right tools to maximise efficiency.

For Schalk, joining the IMRF was the next step to help with their journey of improving maritime SAR effectively.

“We joined the IMRF to enhance our collaboration and contribution to the maritime SAR community, as well as rescue operations worldwide. We want to be ensure we are a part of the vital network of like-minded, positive and active organisations that play such a vital and often unsung role in our world. Maritime SAR is vital and everyone at MarineTraffic is very proud to support the IMRF and its community of organisations,” he noted. 

It is vital for maritime SAR organisation to keep on top of the latest tools and technologies, but being able to use them functionally and integrate them positively is the real task. MarineTraffic has both the usefulness and usability that we should expect from an SAR community asset.

You can find out more about MarineTraffic and how it works here: https://www.marinetraffic.com/

If you are interested in contributing to the collection of AIS Data, please click here: https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/p/apply-for-free-ais-receiver