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As a former member of the Italian Navy, I was very pleased and surprised to see how Web 2.0 could ‘endorse’ the gigantic maritime traffic over the seas around the world. Thus, I discovered the Marine Traffic Project, part of an academic, open, community-based project which maps everything dealing with marine traffic over the seas, like Google Maps. The Marine Traffic project provides free real-time information to the public, about ship movements and ports, mainly across the coast-lines of Europe and North America. The project is currently hosted by the Department of Product and Systems Design Enginnering, University of the Aegean, Greece. The initial data collection is based on the Automatic Identification System (AIS). The system is based on AIS (Automatic Identification System). As from December 2004, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires all vessels over 299GT to carry an AIS transponder on board, which transmits their position, speed and course, among some other static information, such as vessel’s name, dimensions and voyage details. It is dedicated in collecting and presenting data which are exploited in research areas, such as:
– Study of marine telecommunications in respect of efficiency and propagation parameters
– Simulation of vessel movements in order to contribute to the safety of navigation and to cope with critical incidents
– Interactive information systems design
– Design of databases providing real-time information
– Statistical processing of ports traffic with applications in operational research
– Design of models for the spotting of the origin of a pollution
– Design of efficient algorithms for sea path evaluation and for determining the estimated time of ship arrivals
– Correlation of the collected information with weather data
– Cooperation with Institutes dedicated in the protection of the environment.
Finally, it is possible to select your port of departure, desired area and even search for a specific ship.

In Italiano:
Da ex marinaio (ho svolto il servizio militare nella Marina italiana), sono rimasto molto sorpreso e anche piacevolmente colpito dal progetto Marine Traffic che ho scoperto davvero casualmente. In sintesi, Marine Traffic identifica tutto il traffico marittimo di navi, passeggeri e mercantili, perfino i rimorchiatori e le pilotine nel Mar Mediterraneo, nelle rotte in Atlantico con le Americhe e ovunque nel mondo.
Il progetto è patrocinato dal Department of Product and Systems Design Enginnering dell’Università greca dell’Egeo. Il sistema di collezione dati si basa sull’Automatic Identification System (AIS): dal dicembre 2004, l’International Maritime Organization (IMO) richiede che tutti i natanti oltre le 299 tonnellate debbano avere a bordo un transponder AIS. Il transponder trasmette la posizione, la velocità, la rotta e anche qualche altra informazione del natante in questione (nome, dimensioni, pescaggio, velocità, dettagli del percorso, ecc.). La visualizzazione di tutto avviene comodamente come se avessimo davanti una semplice porzione di Google Maps e la potenzialità didattica, specie negli Istituti Nautici, è concreta e “spendibile” in modo efficace, anche in gare di “Orienteering”…
In conclusione, Marine Traffic è disponibile in italiano e in molte altre lingue, permette di effettuare ricerche mirate e con vari criteri: area e porto d’interesse, nave in questione, quadrante di bisogna, ecc. Gratis.