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Why Maritime Data Is Crucial for Global Trade 

Maritime data plays a pivotal role in the complex network of global trade, serving as a fundamental element that enables the seamless operation of international commerce. With more than half of global goods being transported via sea routes, the significance of precise and prompt maritime data cannot be emphasized enough.

Continue reading to learn more about the importance of maritime data for global trade.

Maritime data: A backbone of efficiency

Maritime data refers to the vast array of information related to the naval industry and activities at sea. This includes data on:

  • Ship movements: Real-time tracking and historical data of vessel positions, routes, and speeds, often gathered through systems like the Automatic Identification System or AIS.
  • Cargo details: Information about the type, quantity, and status of goods transported, including loading and unloading times.
  • Port activities: Data on port operations, including berth availability, cargo handling, and port congestion.
  • Weather conditions: Meteorological data impacting maritime operations, such as sea state, wind speed, and weather forecasts.
  • Regulatory compliance: Information ensures that vessels adhere to international maritime safety, environmental protection, and crew welfare regulations.
  • Security information: Data is used to monitor and prevent illegal activities such as smuggling, piracy, and fishing.
  • Economic indicators: Trends and statistics related to shipping economics, trade volumes, and market conditions.

This data is crucial for various stakeholders in the shipping industry, from shipping companies and port authorities to logistics providers and policymakers.

AIS marine systems

AIS marine systems, or Automatic Identification Systems, are tracking systems used on ships and by vessel traffic services to identify and locate vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships, AIS base stations, and satellites. Here are the key components and functions of AIS marine systems:

  • Vessel tracking: AIS transponders on ships transmit information about the vessel, such as its unique identification, position, course, speed, and other navigational status data. This information is crucial for monitoring ship movements and enhancing maritime safety.
  • Collision avoidance: By providing real-time information about the position and movements of nearby vessels, AIS helps in preventing collisions at sea. This is particularly important in congested waterways and busy ports.
  • Traffic management: AIS data is used by Vessel Traffic Services or VTS to manage maritime traffic efficiently. Port authorities and coastal stations can monitor and control vessel movements, ensuring safe and orderly navigation.
  • Search and rescue: In case of emergencies, AIS can provide valuable information to search and rescue operations. It helps in locating vessels in distress and coordinating rescue efforts.
  • Regulatory compliance: AIS data assists in verifying that vessels comply with international maritime regulations, such as adhering to designated shipping lanes and avoiding restricted or environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Environmental monitoring: AIS can be used to track the movements of vessels in sensitive areas, helping to prevent environmental damage and monitor compliance with marine protection laws.
  • Data analytics: The vast amount of data collected by AIS systems can be analyzed to optimize shipping routes, reduce fuel consumption, and improve overall operational efficiency.

AIS marine systems are mandatory on many vessels, including all passenger ships and cargo ships over a certain size, according to international maritime regulations set by the International Maritime Organization.

Enhancing supply chain visibility

A vital concept that’s quite crucial to embrace within the global marketplace is supply chain visibility. Maritime data is then defined as the track record of the movement of goods across the maritime environment and it’s valuable since it promotes transparency to the supply chain players. Identifying the position of the vessel, the estimated time of arrival and the congestion in the port help various companies make informed decisions. In turn, this improves time efficiency and minimizes any disruptions.

For instance, shipping companies can use maritime data to optimize their routes, avoiding adverse weather conditions and congested ports. This ensures timely delivery of goods and reduces fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, port authorities can use this data to manage port operations more efficiently, scheduling berth allocations and coordinating cargo handling activities to minimize turnaround times.

Supporting regulatory compliance

Compliance with international maritime regulations is a critical aspect of global trade. Maritime data plays a pivotal role in ensuring that vessels comply with these regulations, which cover areas such as safety standards, environmental protection, and crew welfare. For example, AIS marine data can be used to verify that ships adhere to designated shipping lanes and avoid environmentally sensitive areas, such as marine protected zones.

Moreover, maritime data is instrumental in combating illegal activities like smuggling and fishing. By monitoring vessel movements and analyzing patterns, authorities can identify suspicious activities and take timely action to prevent illicit trade.

Driving innovation in maritime technology

The maritime industry is undergoing a digital transformation driven by technological advancements and the increasing availability of marine data. Innovations such as autonomous ships, predictive maintenance, and blockchain-based supply chain solutions rely on accurate and comprehensive maritime data.

Autonomous ships, for example, rely on real-time data from AIS systems and other sensors to navigate safely and efficiently. Predictive maintenance systems use data on vessel performance and environmental conditions to anticipate equipment failures and schedule maintenance activities proactively. Blockchain technology leverages maritime data to create transparent and immutable records of cargo movements, enhancing trust and reducing the risk of fraud.

Different uses of maritime data in global trade

Maritime data is used by a wide range of stakeholders, each with their own specific needs and applications:

  • Shipping companies: They use maritime data for fleet management, optimizing routes and schedules, monitoring vessel performance and fuel consumption, and ensuring compliance with regulations.
  • Port authorities: They use data for managing vessel traffic, optimizing berth allocation, enhancing security measures, and improving overall operational efficiency.
  • Shipbuilders and equipment manufacturers: They use data to design and develop more efficient vessels and equipment and to monitor their products’ performance in real-world conditions.
  • Marine insurers: They use data to assess risks, calculate premiums, and investigate claims.
  • Maritime service providers: Companies offering bunkering, ship repair, and towage use data to optimize their operations and provide timely services to vessels.
  • Customs and border control agencies: They use data to track cargo movements, monitor trade flows, and enforce customs regulations.
  • Commodity traders and analysts: They use data to track cargo movements, predict market trends, and make informed trading decisions.

In addition to these specific users, many others with an interest in the movement of goods by sea and its impact on business are finding the kind of data previously confined to the maritime industry useful to their objectives, including the finance and insurance industries as well as logistics working to increase efficiency of supply chains and manage the risk of maritime transport.

The increase in big maritime data availability and data processing and analytics technologies gives a new impulse to new solutions and collaborations across various industries. It will in the long run enhance a safer, efficient and sustainable maritime industry.


Without a doubt, maritime data is crucial for the functioning of world trade because sea transport is one of its cornerstones. Whereas the critical potential of marine information is virtually unlimited, several areas of successful application of the data can be mentioned, just like how maritime will remain a crucial part of international trade in many years to come, the same way the accuracy, timeliness and comprehensiveness of marine data. Contact us today to explore the best maritime data solutions for your organization!

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