A proposal for the development of an At-sea Location Information Service
Background & Objectives
Through previous feasibility work, current application development partnerships and in-depth knowledge of the marine information services marketplace, a new innovative commercial location-based service opportunity for the leisure marine market has been identified. This is an extensive expanding global market sector that is increasingly routinely concerned with accessing marine information as part of the decision-making processes. It also provides an easy test platform of concepts that can be applied to the commercial shipping sector.
ALIS is a marine location-based information system for the leisure-marine market and is based on a flexible client-server architecture. The idea is that ALIS users subscribe to the ALIS service and from an onboard position ALIS clients are able to submit interactive real-time queries for navigation data related to their location, as well as receiving automatic navigation real-time data alerts relevant to their position. This aligns with the concepts of e-navigation being developed by the IHO and IALA.
The work plan was as follows: - Consolidation phase: The user requirements were developed, the system concept was documented and the pilot system specified for what it would contain in terms of functionality and data. - Implementation phase: The pilot serviceâ€™s architectural components and interfaces were designed. On completion, a pilot service that demonstrates the major areas of service delivery was implemented. - Technology transfer: Once the pilot service was tested, the project entered a period of pilot service operation, where it solicited feedback on the service. This feedback was input into a market assessment and creating a business plan.
The project had the following objectives:
- definition of user requirements, specification and design of the service;
- identification of specific areas of Galileo-ALIS integration/linkage;
- implementation of a pilot service to provide an initial operational service;
- soliciting of pilot service user feedback in terms of service requirements, and future information needs;
- capture of market and business information, mapping out the commercial development of a full operational service.
Work performed & results
ALIS is based on mining geographical position data and accompanying GIS manipulation of dynamic and static spatial datasets to provide a unique marine location-enabled service. ALIS will tell a mariner who and what is in their vicinity, be it the nearest marina or a weather warning so they can react/plan accordingly. ALIS uses a range of current GNSS, satcom and terrestrial data communication services and complements other onboard navigation systems. It is not intended to be safety critical, but it does provide advisory information. It is aimed at all classes of boat user, but particularly the mass-market general boat user who may not have many onboard electronics, and is based around a simple thin client and server architecture which is straightforward to deploy. The ALIS system architecture is shown in the diagram. The various elements shown are: - ALIS client: This consists of a bespoke software application resident on a userâ€™s onboard computing device (e.g. laptop, PDA, SmartPhone). The client software allows a user to define an ALIS query/request, transmit their location and to receive information from the ALIS server. The client software interfaces to: - the userâ€™s onboard GNSS receiver, from which the ALIS client extracts their real-time position. - the userâ€™s onboard mobile communications device(s), e.g. satcom terminal, satellite phone, etc., which provides a two-way internet connection from the client to the ALIS server. - the userâ€™s locally stored nautical chart dataset for backdrop data display in the client software to give spatial context to ALIS data. - ALIS server: The shore-based ALIS server consists of a data ingestion component that receives data from a number of third-party sources, a RDBMS for storing this data and position information received from ALIS users, and a data access portal that provides an API to the database for client information requests and retrieval. The server interfaces to the following type of data sources: - local data. Where data for ingestion is not available over a network, it may need to be ingested, either manually or via a process, from a local source. An example of this is Almanac information supplied as data files on CD. - remote data. Much of the data ingested is available from remote databases or services. This includes data retrieved from third-party online databases or data received from third-party transmission systems (e.g. AIS or NAVTEX). - third-party clients and services: ALIS has a well documented API and uses XML to pass requests and results between a client and the server. Therefore third-party client software developers can access ALIS. An example of this could be vessel-tracking services that access ALIS to retrieve position information on any ALIS subscriber.