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Discussion on: I used to work with vessel tracking data. Ask Me Anything!

cathodion profile image
Dustin King Ask Me Anything

The hardware and shipborne side of things wasn't my specialty, but I'll answer to the best of my knowledge.

Ships have an electronic chart (map) system, that shows the ship's own position and other ships around them. I think the messages would show up overlaid on this, or possibly a different screen. I know dedicated systems for this exist, and are usually called ECS or ECDIS, but it could theoretically be anything capable of receiving the data format (including a PC or tablet if it has the right software).

There were at one point a specialized kind of networks for shipborne networking, but my sense is that's moved toward more standard IT stuff (though hopefully with more waterproofing 😅), such as ethernet connections, with the data itself traveling over TCP or UDP.

Edit to add: there weren't many people who had access to our transmit capability. Text messages were supposed to be for safety-related information only, though I think that's not enforced for the ships themselves (the ECS lets you send text messages, I think, but that didn't involve our software).

mexchip profile image
José Jorge

Pretty interesting, thanks for the reply :).