Mobile MDA

Smartphone apps enable vessel identification and tracking

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In the digital age, maritime domain awareness (MDA) can be gained not only with satellites, but also with smartphones. Whether you’re a commercial enterprise or seafaring tourist, mobile apps can deliver improved situational awareness at sea via valuable maritime capabilities, including:

Vessel tracking: Using real-time AIS signals, apps such as MarineTraffic, Ship Finder, Boat Watch, and VesselFinder allow users to track ships on a map from their mobile device. Several, including “pro” versions of Boat Watch and Ship Finder, offer augmented reality features, allowing users to identify vessels—learning their name, type, and destination—by viewing them through their phone’s camera.

Citizen reporting: Apps such as ShipWatch are designed to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing by allowing fishermen to report questionable activity to authorities. All a user has to do is take a picture, tag it, and upload it to a central map. A similar tool, called Fish DB, allows fishermen to report illegal fishing activity via SMS text message, in case they lack an Internet connection.

Photo Credit: MarineTraffic

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