DY AISnet, making a good thing easy
Another show, another nifty AIS appliance from Digital Yacht. Following the introduction of the iThing-friendly iAIS receiver in Southampton, DY showed up at NMEA with the AISnet receiver above. It's a pretty obvious concept, but I don't think it's been done before, and it could encourage a nice proliferation of land-based AIS stations flowing target data onto the web...So for $500, plus a VHF antenna and minor installation, any marina or good samitaritan with a sea view and an always-on Internet connection can become part of the global network that's making AIS info available at sites like MarineTraffic and many others, without the need to leave a PC on. But note that the AISnet has a USB port in addition to Ethernet, so the owner can access the target feed directly with any sort of AIS-plotting software, including DY's own AISlite, which comes with.
Of course there are several utility programs already available that will put AIS receiver data coming into a PC onto the Web, and I've been meaning to try them, but this sure looks easier to set up and run 24/7. DY's US distributor told me that they'll even pre-configure a unit to output to MarineTraffic and/or other sites so the install will be plug and play (though the AISnet also comes with a small program for doing this). Mind you, the more receivers there are out there, the more likely a boater can check that his own transponder-equipped vessel is OK at her slip or mooring, or watch a transponder-equipped friend cruise the coast. And while the primary purpose of installing a transponder is collision avoidance, being seen on the web is significant additional incentive for many. More AIS web coverage equals more AIS transponders?
And whereas I happen to be waiting for AIS seminar right now, I know about yet another AIS appliance that Digital Yacht might consider adding to the growing collection seen below (or any other company, like, say, L3 Protec). Jorge Arroyo just told me that the U.S. Coast Guard is very close to the point where it will permit private parties like marinas and yacht clubs to establish shoreside AtoNs broadcasting real time weather and/or tide level AIS messages. And I don't think there's any reason why that transponder device can't also put its data and local traffic onto the Web, AISnet style. Isn't that an interesting opportunity for coastal organizations to promote themselves a bit while also offering useful info to their members/clients and others?