Whether you’re using AIS data to track commodity shipments around the world, help the environment by detecting illegal fishing or bilge dumping, or to improve security and surveillance, all these diverse solutions require a complete picture of global maritime vessel activity.
But with several different AIS service providers out there, how do you decide which one to select?
Be sure to ask these three questions of any prospective AIS service provider:
1. Is Your AIS Data Comprehensive?
Most service providers would give a knee-jerk ‘yes’ to this question, but what really constitutes comprehensive AIS data? Here are a few questions to consider:
- Does the AIS service provider use satellite AIS data or do they use terrestrial AIS data. Satellite AIS is best for the open ocean out of reach of shore based terrestrial receivers; terrestrial AIS is best for congested waterways like harbours that are near to shore. The most comprehensive AIS data comes from providers who offer a combination of satellite and terrestrial AIS data. Only with these two sources can you have the most comprehensive AIS data possible.
- What’s the latency in their consolidated AIS data? How many unique AIS transponders are they collecting data from?
- How reliable is the service provider’s satellite AIS data? Do they have a long track record of providing this data or are they a startup with big plans but little track record to prove their reliability? How long their satellite network has been operating? How many ground stations do they have?
- Do they provide terrestrial AIS data from a single provider or do they have partnerships with leading terrestrial AIS providers to ensure the best and most accurate global coverage? How many terrestrial partners do they have?
- Does the provider consolidate AIS data from these multiple sources into a single, simple, standards based stream, for you to use as input into your application? This is important because it allows you to focus on what you’re good at—developing applications—and leave the data consolidation to someone else.
2. Are You a Partner or a Competitor?
Your AIS data provider should be committed to one thing—helping you deliver solutions that enable you to succeed. Your gut will tell you if you’re truly comfortable with answers to the following:
- Does your provider really understand the AIS landscape and share their experience to help you be more successful?
- Can you depend on them to provide all your AIS data needs?
3. Can I Count on You for the Long Haul?
AIS service providers come and go, and you can’t afford to have a partner go quiet on you when your application needs reliable AIS data to succeed. Play it safe and trust in a proven partner. Ask these questions for starters:
- Is the service provider established and financially stable?
- Are they a growing business?
- Do they have the engineers, technical staff, and customer support to innovate, grow, and support your business?
- Have leading customers around the world trusted this supplier with their business?
By knowing the right questions to ask, selecting the right AIS service provider can be a breeze. Mission critical applications require data that can always be counted on. With a few simple questions, you can quickly determine the right AIS service provider for you.