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GIS for Tracking Vessels on the Inland Waterways Inland Waterway Lock/Vessel Optimization Study Upper Mississippi River Locks 20-25 Center For Transportation Studies University Of Missouri, St. Louis 15 June 2005 Scope and Team

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GIS for Tracking Vessels on the

Inland Waterways

Inland Waterway Lock/Vessel Optimization Study

Upper Mississippi River Locks 20-25

Center For Transportation Studies

University Of Missouri, St. Louis

15 June 2005

scope and team
Scope and Team
  • Identify GIS and vessel tracking applications for inland waterway transport on the UMR.
  • Document appropriate technologies to implement a vessel tracking system.
  • Develop a prototype GIS-based vessel tracking system to assist in implementing an appointment or scheduling system.
  • Research Team:
    • Ray Mundy, Ph.D.
    • James F. Campbell, Ph.D.
    • Will Winter, Denise Franke, Amrita Sinha
real time tracking of tows
Real-time Tracking of Tows
  • Provides more accurate locations of tows.
  • Allows lockmasters to better manage lockages.
  • Supports implementation of an appointment or scheduling system.
  • May provide collateral benefits: Safety, Security, Environmental Protection, Operations.
vessel tracking
Vessel Tracking
  • Technology for tracking tows in real-time is well developed.
  • Vessel tracking is well established in many locations:
    • Large operators on the UMR.
    • U.S. Coast Guard VTS areas and IRVMC.
    • St. Lawrence Seaway.
    • European inland waterways.
    • Port security and fisheries enforcement world-wide.
gis use on the umr
GIS Use on the UMR
  • Static Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are widely used by organizations on the UMR for a variety of purposes:
    • Safety and security.
    • Environmental protection.
    • Navigation.
  • Users:
    • Federal, State and local governments (e.g., Corps, U.S. Coast Guard)
    • Tow operators.
    • Environmental organizations.
    • Etc.
vessel tracking examples
Vessel Tracking Examples
  • Tow operators.
  • U.S. Coast Guard: IRVMC and VTS.
  • St. Lawrence Seaway.
  • RIS in Europe.
  • Other Examples:
    • SmartLock.
    • VIPS.
    • Panama Canal.
    • Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS).
tow tracking
Tow Tracking
  • Large operators track their own tow boats.
    • Some use commercial systems.
    • Others have proprietary systems.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard tracks all hazardous cargoes on the UMR (IRVMC).
  • Neither the Corps nor the Coast Guard have real-time tracking of all commercial vessels on the UMR-IW.
tracking system providers
Tracking System Providers
  • BOATRACS (now owned by AirIQ)
    • 400 commercial fleets; >800 inland workboats.
  • WATERCOM (Mobex)
    • WATERCOM developed by ACBL in 1980s using radio towers.
  • Others:
      • BargeTrak (StarTrak; originally rail car tracking)
      • River-Trac (ACBL)
      • Satamatics; SASCO; Information Technology Systems, LLC; Meridian; Intellitrans, LLC; TransCore, etc.
u s coast guard
U.S. Coast Guard
  • Tracks hazardous cargoes on UMR via Inland Rivers Vessel Movement Center (IRVMC) in St. Louis.
  • Tracks all commercial vessels at vessel traffic service (VTS) locations.
    • AIS (Automated Information Systems)
  • Expanding AIS throughout all navigable waterways.
  • Formed by Coast Guard in April 2003:
    • “to ensure public safety, prevent sabotage or terrorist acts, and facilitate the efforts of emergency services and law enforcement officers responding to terrorist attacks.”
  • Tracks all certain dangerous cargoes (CDCs) in “near-real time”.
  • Uses regulated navigation areas including UMR-IW.
    • Applies to all towing vessel operators and fleeting area managers responsible for the movement of barges carrying CDCs.
  • Explosives and blasting agents.
  • Poisonous gases and liquids.
  • Ammonium nitrate and certain fertilizers.
  • Radioactive materials.
  • Bulk liquefied chlorine gas, and other liquefied gases.
irvmc reporting
IRVMC Reporting
  • Owners and operators of covered barges hauling CDCs are required to report position and other information to the IRVMC.





752.8 752.8 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 4

679.2 679.2 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 8


493.3 493.3 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 14

410.5 410.5 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 18

324.9 324.9 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 21

241.4 241.4 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 25


irvmc data
  • Required to report to the IRVMC via email or toll free telephone or fax:
    • Name of barge and towboat,
    • Name of loading, fleeting and terminal facility,
    • Estimated time of arrival (ETA) at:
      • loading, fleeting and terminal facilities,
      • 148 designated reporting points,
    • Planned route and estimated time of departure (ETD) from facilities,
    • Any significant departure from previously reported information.
irvmc timing
IRVMC Timing
  • Timing of reporting to the IRVMC:
    • 4 hours prior to loading and to getting underway with CDCs - and dropping off and picking up CDCs from a fleeting area,
    • At entry into, and departure from, the covered geographic area,
    • Upon arrival at the final destination with a covered barge (if within the reporting area),
    • At any time ETA varies by 6 hours from the previously reported ETA,
    • When directed by the Coast Guard.
irvmc tracking display
IRVMC Tracking & Display
  • Have GIS display of vessels throughout U.S.
    • Limited mapping capabilities.
    • Position updates hourly and as required.
  • Tracking data provided by operators:
    • Large tow operators send data electronically from their traffic centers.
    • Smaller operators use fax and phone.
  • Focus is on safety and security.
u s coast guard vts centers
U.S. Coast Guard VTS Centers
  • Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) Centers
vts centers
VTS Centers
  • Vessel Traffic Services Centers:
    • Provide monitoring and navigational advice for vessels in confined and busy waterways.
    • Shift from safety and navigation emphasis to security.
  • Integrate data broadcast from vessels and from land-based sensors at central location.
    • Vessel data: AIS
    • Land-based sensors: radar, VHF, infrared, closed circuit TV.
  • Put no additional burden on the mariner.
  • Automatic Identification Systems.
  • Developed by IMO (International Maritime Organization) to improve maritime safety, protect the environment, and improve VTS operations.
  • Includes ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship communications.
    • Automatically broadcasts position, ID, and other static, dynamic, and voyage related data.
    • Receives data from other AIS units.
vts new orleans25
VTS New Orleans

Sensors and cameras transmit data back to the vessel traffic Center.

vts louisville
VTS Louisville
  • Operates on a 13 mile stretch of the Ohio River during high water.
    • Guides vessels through waters near the Falls of the Ohio.
  • Operated as a part-time “on demand" service.
    • Manned by Active and Reserve duty personnel.
  • Operates 45 days each year on average, but has operated for as long as 106 days.
st lawrence seaway
St. Lawrence Seaway
  • 15 locks: 740’ long; 80’ wide; 30’ deep.
  • Montreal – Lake Ontario:
    • 22-24 hours transit time.
    • 2 U.S. locks.
    • 5 Canadian locks.
  • Welland Canal:
    • Connects lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
    • 27 miles, 8 locks (Canadian).
  • 3 Seaway Traffic Control Centers:
    • AIS implemented starting in 2002.
st lawrence seaway29
St. Lawrence Seaway
  • Bi-national cooperation.
  • United States:
    • 2 locks (Eisenhower and Snell) in middle of Seaway.
    • Managed by St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. (SLSDC - agency within DOT).
  • Canada:
    • 13 locks at ends of Seaway.
    • Managed by St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC - private not-for-profit corp.)
    • Locks owned by Government of Canada.
seaway tms and ais
Seaway TMS and AIS
  • Traffic Management System (TMS):
    • Manages data for all transits and vessels.
    • Broadcasts safety and navigation information to vessels.
  • AIS integrated into TMS in 2002.
    • Vessels also report at call in points.
    • Cost = $2.1 million.
    • Estimated savings = $300,000/year.
  • Do not generally re-sequence vessels at locks.
    • Little variability in lockage times (all lockages are a single ship).
  • Traffic management still relies heavily on voice transmissions.
ais and tms cost

YearTotal CostSLSDC SLSMC Carriers

(US) (Canada)


Feasibility study $200,000 $200,000 $0 $0


System reqs, AIS survey, $150,000 $75,000 $75,000 $0

Integration demo.


Full implementation $1,565,000 $500,000 $500,000 $565,000


Updates, Training $163,800 $78,900 $78,900 $0

Total $2,078,800 $853,900 $653,900 $571,000

AIS and TMS Cost
europe ris
Europe - RIS
  • RIS: River Information Services
    • “a concept for harmonized information services which supports traffic and transport management in inland navigation, including interfaces to other transport modes.”
  • Broad geographic and functional scope:
    • 30,000 km of waterways in 11 countries.
    • 11,500 vessels (mainly self propelled).
    • 77.5 billion ton-miles in 2003.
  • Uses common systems to link:
    • Pilots.
    • Tow companies.
    • Lock, harbor and terminal operators.
    • RIS operators.
    • Waterway authorities.
    • Emergency responders.
  • Also used for:
    • Law enforcement.
    • Statistical data collection.
    • Waterway charges and port fees.
  • Broader than U.S. Coast Guard IWS (Intelligent Waterways System) initiative.
many projects
Many Projects
  • INDRIS: 1998 – 2002
    • Explored AIS and inland ECDIS (electronic chart display information systems).
    • Developed framework and standards for communications and data.
    • Identified value added services beyond VTS.
  • COMPRIS: 2002-2005 (44 partners).
    • Final phase before full-scale implementation.
    • Provides architecture and standards for RIS:
      • Functional, Information, Data, Physical and Organizational.
ris benefits
RIS Benefits
  • Primary benefits:
    • Improved competitiveness of the inland waterways.
    • Optimized use of lock and terminal infrastructure.
    • Improved safety and security.
    • Enhanced environmental protection.
  • Benefit – Cost ratios*:
    • 5 for society.
    • 3.5 for pilots.
    • 1 for waterway authorities.

* from an INDRIS demonstration project on the Rhine River.

  • Lock navigation aid to assist pilots in the lock approach. 
    • Developed for Port of Pittsburgh.
  • Provides precise information, in near-real time, including:
    • Distances between the tow and lock, and
    • Conditions at the lock, such as dam opening, river & wind conditions.
  • Uses differential GPS (DGPS) for high accuracy.
smartlock example
SmartLock Example
  • Provides the pilot with information overlaid on an electronic navigation chart (ENC). 
  • Example: A tow approaching Emsworth lock from upstream.
    • Distances of the bow and stern from the guide wall.
    • Distance from the bow to the bullnose. 
    • Information about conditions (wind, dam opening, current, etc.). 
benefits costs
Benefits & Costs
  • Improves reliability, predictability, safety and efficiency at the lock. 
  • Cost-savings include:
    • Allowing locking in fog ($58 million/yr).
    • Speeding lockages by 10 minutes ($10 million/yr).
    • Reducing accidents: (>$1 million/yr).
  • SmartLock costs:
    • Towboat cost: approximately $14,000.
    • Cost at lock: estimated at less than $13,000. 
other applications
Other Applications
  • Panama Canal.
  • VIPS – Vessel Identification and Positioning System
    • Developed by Volpe Center.
    • Used for Columbia River, Boston Harbor, Cape Cod Canal.
  • VMS (vessel monitoring systems) for fisheries.
panama canal
Panama Canal
  • 80 km with 6 pairs of locks in 3 sets.
    • 8-10 hours to transit.
  • CTAN (Communication, Traffic Management and Navigation) system since 2000.
  • Track well in advance of arrival.
    • Pre-arrival notice of 96 hours.
  • Use portable GPS/AIS units for transit ($150).
  • Extends technology from Panama Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway
  • Focus on port security.
    • Combines AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) information and shore and ship-based remote sensing.
    • Geographic display includes automated alerts.
  • Also used for navigation and environmental protection.
  • Vessel Monitoring Systems.
    • Required by NMFS for compliance in certain off-shore fisheries.
    • Hourly polling for locations of vessels.
    • Many commercial providers of VMS systems world-wide.
      • Use satellite-based systems.
        • Argos, Inmarsat, OrbComm, Boatracs, etc.
      • Cost split between owners and government.
technologies for vessel tracking
Technologies for Vessel Tracking
  • Find vessel position.
    • GPS, Triangulation with satellites or shore-based antenna.
  • Communicate vessel position to shore station.
    • Satellite, VHF Radio, AIS.
  • Integrate information for traffic management.
    • Communications links to traffic center.
    • Integration software.


Land Station

Traffic Center

1. Positioning

2. Communications

3. Integration

  • Vessel Location.
    • GPS: accuracy to 10 meters.
    • DGPS: accuracy much better.
    • Other satellite systems: lesser accuracy.
  • AIS.
  • Land Communications.
    • Standard telecom methods:
      • Satellite, radio, microwave, land lines, etc.
      • Internet.
satellite based positioning
Satellite-based Positioning
  • Current satellite systems provide a variety of options:
    • ARGOS, Inmarsat, Boatracs, OrbComm, etc.
    • Technology Assessment of Mobile Satellite System Alternatives”, U.S. Coast Guard R&D Center, 1998.
  • Many vendors provide packages (equipment + software) for communications and positioning.
inmarsat orbcomm
Inmarsat & OrbComm
  • Inmarsat
    • Focuses on maritime safety worldwide and GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System).
    • Heavily used for ocean carriers and fishing fleets.
  • OrbComm
    • 30 satellites provide global coverage.
    • Received Coast Guard contract in June 2004 to provide AIS capability.
      • Plan new satellite launch in 2006 for AIS.
    • Partners provide tracking and communication services.
  • Maritime version of QUALCOMM’s OmniTracs.
    • Accuracy: ~100 meters.
    • Combines location and secure communications.
    • Leases space on satellites.
  • Provides automatic hourly updates and position with every message.
  • Used on UMR and in TSA sponsored test on Columbia and Snake Rivers in 11/2003.
  • Cost per boat: $3500 + $150/month for messaging.
  • Ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship communications with broadcasting radius ~20-30 miles.
  • Required on commercial vessels on international voyages.
    • Towing vessels over 26 feet and 600 hp.
    • Self propelled commercial vessels over 65 feet.
    • Passenger vessels with more than a specified number of passengers.
  • Vessels in VTS and Vessel Movement Reporting Service (VMRS) areas.
ais data equipment
AIS Data & Equipment
  • Automatically broadcasts static, dynamic, and voyage related data.
    • Static data:
      • Vessel ID, length and beam, type, antenna location.
    • Dynamic data:
      • Position, course, speed, heading, rate of turn.
    • Voyage related data:
      • Draft, hazardous cargo type, destination, ETA.
  • Receives data from other AIS units.
  • Vessel unit includes positioning (e.g., GPS), microprocessor and VHF-FM transceiver.
ais benefits
AIS Benefits
  • Improved safety and security:
    • Safer operations in foul weather.
    • Better environmental protection.
    • Better emergency response.
  • Improved efficiency:
    • Reduced transit times.
    • Better scheduling of lockages and vessel tie-ups.
    • Better scheduling of inspections and pilotage services.
ais on the umr
AIS on the UMR?
  • Coast Guard: “Recognizing that AIS may ultimately be required…what waterways should be implemented before others?”
  • ACBL’s response:
    • Add AIS on Mississippi River below St. Louis and give high priority to this Illinois River.
    • Give lesser priority to Upper Mississippi.
    • “doubts that…AIS will substantially improve the mariner’s ability to safely and efficiently navigate the Mississippi River…”

Letters to Docket Management Facility, Dept. of Transportation, RE: USCG-2003-14878-75 and USCG-2003-14757-101

vessel tracking lockage information system
Vessel Tracking Lockage Information System
  • Collects, manages and displays appropriate information for a scheduling system.
    • Integrates tow tracking and traffic (and lock) management.
    • The information needed depends on the type of traffic and lockage management.
  • Geographic scope ranges from:
    • Single lock and adjacent pools.
    • Multiple locks and pools.
    • Entire riverway.
  • Vessel location data ranges from:
    • Existing data (OMNI).
    • Near-real time locations (e.g., every hour).
    • Real time locations.
issues for finding tow locations
Issues for Finding Tow Locations
  • Key issues are how and when to find and communicate tow locations.
  • How much does real time or near-real time vessel tracking add for reducing congestion?
  • How much positional and temporal accuracy is needed on the UMR?
    • Cost increases with positional and temporal accuracy (more call in points or more frequent updates).
tracking questions
Tracking Questions
  • What type of vessel tracking is best?
    • Ability to partner with other relevant parties?
      • U.S. Coast Guard?
      • Carriers?
    • When will AIS be required on the UMR?
  • How to find locations?
    • Automatic: Remote sensing, AIS, etc.
    • Manual (reporting by tows).
  • When to report locations?
    • At specified call in points: How many?
    • At periodic intervals: How often?
  • Track tows using the existing (OMNI) data.
  • Track tows using near-real time data reported by the vessel/carrier (IRVMC).
  • Track tows using real time tow tracking with traffic management centers (St. Lawrence Seaway).
  • Do nothing.
tow tracking summary
Tow Tracking Summary
  • Real time and near-real time tow tracking is certainly feasible on the UMR.
  • Technologies for tow tracking are well tested.
  • Integration of tow tracking and lock scheduling is feasible, but not yet in place.