Know the Location of Vessels with an Online Map

Scenario
Ships are an important human invention that can carry people to cross lakes, seas, and oceans. In prehistoric times, people like Polynesians already knew how to observe winds and ocean currents and sail over thousands of kilometers to trade and exchange goods regularly. From immigration of Polynesian to Age of Discovery, explorers discover unknown lands and new opportunities all by navigation with ships.

Other than a vehicle, ships can achieve more. The most general purposes than people transporting are fishing and cargo carrying. Many people also enjoy the astonishing scenery and the relaxing feeling while sailing on the ocean. Leisure cruising can be dated back to 19 century, as ocean liners are still the only choice for long-distance maritime transportation, some companies had added some luxurious elements for competing passengers.

Despite airplanes defeated most ocean liners today, the dedicated cruise ships still live till now and even have become a very popular way for a vacation among modern tourism, especially in the Caribbean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

Challenges
As a widely known fact, phone signal is usually not available in the middle of the ocean, or the signal is not stable as we are traveling on land. The satellite phone and the general phone signal offered by cruise ship company often need extra charge. According to that, sometimes we are hard to know how or where our families or friends are while they are on cruise holidays. 
Goals
Fortunately, we know that a GIS server like SuperGIS Server can help us to manage, integrate, and publish different geographic data online, which can solve most geospatial issues. Since the problem mentioned earlier is closely related to geography, we would try to build an online map platform that can instantly display the location of cruise ships to solve this issue.
Solutions
A background knowledge we have to know first is current reporting system of ships, which is called AIS (Automatic Identification System). It is an automatic tracking system that can report the position, speed, and course of nearby ships on a screen, which is the major method to avoid ship collisions.

By integrating the data from AIS-receiving stations network, SeaScanner, a large online platform provides tickets for cruise holidays, processes these data into KML formats and releases it on the internet, so we can just find and apply it with ease. 

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▲ Fig.1 An online map that tracks cruise ships of the world
After examining the code and content, we realize that this KML data includes current information about cruise ships, such as the position, the course, the voyage time, the next port to stop at, and the live images from ships with a refresh rate of 5 minutes. And this is enough for the goal we want to achieve. Therefore, we can just import this KML resource to SuperGIS Server and adjust related settings. By using the JavaScript API of SuperGIS Server, we can absorb the information of vessels from the popup window in an efficient way.
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▲ Fig.2 The real-time images from the ship bow
Results
By applying SuperGIS Server, it APIs, and suitable data, an online map was successfully established, which can display the location and the situation of cruise ships in real-time. We are now empowered to know the location and the situation of our families and friends on cruise holidays, and the online map we have just built can even share with others, bringing great convenience.
Benefits
More than tracking cruise ships, we can implement the same method to build a worldwide vessel monitoring map by your own with SuperGIS Server. By connecting to appropriate data, watercrafts such as fishing boats, container ships, and ferries can all be integrated and shown on a single online map. With a map like that, logistic companies, seafood suppliers, and transportation corporations can hence acquire further information and make better decisions.
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