Eye in the Sky for Inland INTEL
Genscape Maritime’s Vessel Coverage of U.S. Inland Waterways offers new perspectives and a leg up on the competition. In today’s transportation markets, information is everything.
It was back in 2016 that Genscape announced the complete integration of more than 400 terrestrial AIS antennas in North America, providing an impressive level of data accuracy and visibility into ship movements in the U.S. today, Genscape’s proprietary antenna network offers customers insights into ship movements, commodity flows, and other important data metrics in North America.
Genscape’s private monitoring network covers every commercial port in the U.S., and over 90 percent of U.S. inland waterways, including extensive coverage of key regions such as the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, and the Gulf Coast. With this enhanced coverage, Genscape customers – commodity traders, ship owners and operators, and port service providers – gain unique, real-time insight of vessel movements in North America, and an understanding of their associated commodity flows and trade patterns.
For traders and analysts, Genscape’s comprehensive AIS network offers unrivaled insights into the opaque inland-waterways trade with the finest possible level of granularity, not available elsewhere. This empowers customers to identify patterns associated with routine operations, so that they have real-time indications of potential market opportunities when vessels deviate from regular routes, experience delays, or exhibit unusual activity. Every day, so it seems, new partners find unique ways to leverage the Genscape network.
The Vesseltracker antenna partnership model
Genscape’s value isn’t limited to commercial applications, and its reach extends to many users through data sharing arrangements that provide value to both sides of the equation. One such partnership involves the OKI Regional Council of Governments and the Raven 991 program, which signed a data share deal with Genscape Vesseltracker. In a nutshell, they became a Vesseltracker Antenna Partner by sending Genscape data from a few antennas. In exchange, Genscape sends back data from their antennas in the “region of interest.” OKI serves two million residents in eight counties spanning three States.
In cases like this, Genscape looks for reliable partners who are interested in tracking vessels in their own geographic areas. The firm provides AIS antenna equipment free of charge, including shipping. In exchange, the partner installs the antenna and connects it to the Internet and then receives free Vesseltracker access for as long as their antenna remains online. Genscape realizes improved service quality in that partner‘s area and the partner gains free (or discounted) access to professional AIS service that can include more than 2,800 antennas, to date.
In the case of the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), a council of local governments, business organizations and community groups committed to developing collaborative strategies to improve the quality of life and the economic vitality of the region, the need for better information on the river was paramount. Locally, the local fire department put up 3 receivers, in part for homeland security purposes, but these proved too limited in scope to provide the breadth of information that OKI required.
David Shuey, GIS Manager for the Greater Cincinnati Transportation Planning group, explained, “Freight is critical to the local economy. We had many data sources, pooling from variety of sources.” OKI in particular needs to know which tugs and what type of freight is transiting the region, when it is coming, and which of these cargoes might be an import (coming into the region from other domestic sources). The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) wanted verification tools.
The solution involved the barter of three AIS antennas for access to Genscape’s Strong Network. The local RAVEN911 (Regional Asset Verification & Emergency Network), an internet based mapping system developed from the perspective of an emergency operator utilizing exemplary technical expertise, and the latest in GIS computer technology, needed to pool data to anticipate river bottlenecks. The ultimate goal included such tasks as controlling traffic and promoting safety zones during local events such as ‘Riverfest,’ which might take place in close proximity to commercial traffic also transiting the region.
Access to a common data set is, for OKI and RAVEN911, most important. And, that means real time data. “Now, with Netscape, we have real time quality data,” said Shuey. In a similar way, Genscape provides logistics INTEL for barge operators, in ways such as timing, price of freight, and the question of time of arrival vs. today’s freight price.
The new OKI project also involves looking back at historical vessel tracks in the interests of local and public safety. They want to encourage recreational use, but at the same time avoid interference with commerce and/or putting recreational users at risk. This might involve creating what OKI characterizes as a “commercial marine activity zone.” OKI is even developing an APP specifically designed for boaters to keep them out of trouble. Another APP, this one intended to provide the number of barges in an area, and notice of casualties to area stakeholders and first responders, is also being developed. According to Shuey, OKI is working with the U.S. Coast Guard and other stakeholders on the project. Shuey adds, “The Coast Guard is excited about it.”
Commercial Applications: Information is Power
For traders and analysts, Genscape’s comprehensive AIS network offers unrivaled insights into the opaque inland-waterways trade with the finest possible level of granularity, not available elsewhere. This empowers customers to identify patterns associated with routine operations, so that they have real-time indications of potential market opportunities when vessels deviate from regular routes, experience delays, or exhibit unusual activity.
For vessel owners and managers, Genscape’s network expansion provides the only source of current information on all vessels operating in U.S. coastal areas and inland waterways. Port service providers can expect the most reliable and up-to-date information available on expected vessels and estimated times of arrival.
With 500 million messages processed every day, Genscape tracks more than 144,000 vessels in near-real-time daily, with more than 98 percent of the data originating from a privately-owned and operated terrestrial AIS antenna network. Activity analysis of all of this allows Genscape to create compelling products on top of raw AIS data, such as tracking global commodity movement and storage to a high degree of accuracy.
Also on the commercial side, one new Genscape US market involves the import and export of LNG, something which Genscape covers closely. And, while AIS isn’t an exclusive tool for any one provider, Genscape’s terrestrial AIS coverage, as compared to satellite reception, involves almost real time information. In the greater logistics pool, time is money. In contrast, satellite-based AIS can involve as much as a few hours of delay. By September, Vessel Tracker will provide via APP, SMS and/or Text messaging, vessel type and cargoes to all subscribers.
In fact, Genscape delivers innovative solutions across a number of asset classes including, but not limited to Oil, Power, Natural Gas and LNG, Agriculture, Petrochemical and NGLs, Maritime, and Renewables. Genscape clients often gain important insights, improve risk management, and/or increase operational efficiency. Powered by the Vesseltracker AIS network, exceptional transparency and insight is delivered to customers, providing the market with a detailed view of the global commodity supply chain.
With 500 million messages processed every day, Genscape daily tracks more than 144,000 vessels via 2,800+ AIS antennas in near-real-time. Importantly, more than 98 percent of the data originates from a privately-owned and operated terrestrial AIS antenna network. Activity analysis of all of this allows Genscape to create compelling products on top of raw AIS data, such as tracking global commodity movement and storage to a high degree of accuracy. In the heartland, spanning the far flung and sometimes fragmented world of U.S. inland river commerce, the picture could get a lot clearer for stakeholders. Will you be one of them? www.genscape.com
This article first appeared in the June 2019 print edition of MarineNews magazine.