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Scope and Team: 

Scope and Team Identify GIS and vessel tracking applications for inland waterway transport on the UMR. Document appropriate technologies to implement a vessel tracking system. Develop a prototype GIS-based vessel tracking system to assist in implementing an appointment or scheduling system. Research Team: Ray Mundy, Ph.D. James F. Campbell, Ph.D. Will Winter, Denise Franke, Amrita Sinha

Real-time Tracking of Tows: 

Real-time Tracking of Tows Provides more accurate locations of tows. Allows lockmasters to better manage lockages. Supports implementation of an appointment or scheduling system. May provide collateral benefits: Safety, Security, Environmental Protection, Operations.

Vessel Tracking : 

Vessel Tracking Technology for tracking tows in real-time is well developed. Vessel tracking is well established in many locations: Large operators on the UMR. U.S. Coast Guard VTS areas and IRVMC. St. Lawrence Seaway. European inland waterways. Port security and fisheries enforcement world-wide.

GIS Use on the UMR : 

GIS Use on the UMR Static Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are widely used by organizations on the UMR for a variety of purposes: Safety and security. Environmental protection. Navigation. Users: Federal, State and local governments (e.g., Corps, U.S. Coast Guard) Tow operators. Environmental organizations. Etc.

Vessel Tracking Examples: 

Vessel Tracking Examples Tow operators. U.S. Coast Guard: IRVMC and VTS. St. Lawrence Seaway. RIS in Europe. Other Examples: SmartLock. VIPS. Panama Canal. Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS).

Tow Tracking: 

Tow Tracking Large operators track their own tow boats. Some use commercial systems. Others have proprietary systems. The U.S. Coast Guard tracks all hazardous cargoes on the UMR (IRVMC). Neither the Corps nor the Coast Guard have real-time tracking of all commercial vessels on the UMR-IW.

Memco : 


Tow Configuration: 

Tow Configuration



Internet Mapping: 

Internet Mapping

Zoomed In…: 

Zoomed In…

Tracking System Providers: 

Tracking System Providers BOATRACS (now owned by AirIQ) 400 commercial fleets; >800 inland workboats. WATERCOM (Mobex) WATERCOM developed by ACBL in 1980s using radio towers. Others: BargeTrak (StarTrak; originally rail car tracking) River-Trac (ACBL) Satamatics; SASCO; Information Technology Systems, LLC; Meridian; Intellitrans, LLC; TransCore, etc.

U.S. Coast Guard : 

U.S. Coast Guard Tracks hazardous cargoes on UMR via Inland Rivers Vessel Movement Center (IRVMC) in St. Louis. Tracks all commercial vessels at vessel traffic service (VTS) locations. AIS (Automated Information Systems) Expanding AIS throughout all navigable waterways.


IRVMC Formed by Coast Guard in April 2003: “to ensure public safety, prevent sabotage or terrorist acts, and facilitate the efforts of emergency services and law enforcement officers responding to terrorist attacks.” Tracks all certain dangerous cargoes (CDCs) in “near-real time”. Uses regulated navigation areas including UMR-IW. Applies to all towing vessel operators and fleeting area managers responsible for the movement of barges carrying CDCs.

CDCs : 

CDCs Explosives and blasting agents. Poisonous gases and liquids. Ammonium nitrate and certain fertilizers. Radioactive materials. Bulk liquefied chlorine gas, and other liquefied gases.

IRVMC Reporting : 

IRVMC Reporting Owners and operators of covered barges hauling CDCs are required to report position and other information to the IRVMC. IRVMC REPORTING POINTS UPPER MISSISSIPPI (UMR) UP DOWN 796 796 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 3 752.8 752.8 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 4 679.2 679.2 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 8 583 583 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 11 493.3 493.3 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 14 410.5 410.5 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 18 324.9 324.9 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 21 241.4 241.4 DEPARTING LOCK & DAM 25 200.8 200.8 ARRIVING and DEPARTING MELVIN PRICE (DB)

IRVMC Data : 

IRVMC Data Required to report to the IRVMC via email or toll free telephone or fax: Name of barge and towboat, Name of loading, fleeting and terminal facility, Estimated time of arrival (ETA) at: loading, fleeting and terminal facilities, 148 designated reporting points, Planned route and estimated time of departure (ETD) from facilities, Any significant departure from previously reported information.

IRVMC Timing : 

IRVMC Timing Timing of reporting to the IRVMC: 4 hours prior to loading and to getting underway with CDCs - and dropping off and picking up CDCs from a fleeting area, At entry into, and departure from, the covered geographic area, Upon arrival at the final destination with a covered barge (if within the reporting area), At any time ETA varies by 6 hours from the previously reported ETA, When directed by the Coast Guard.

IRVMC Tracking & Display: 

IRVMC Tracking & Display Have GIS display of vessels throughout U.S. Limited mapping capabilities. Position updates hourly and as required. Tracking data provided by operators: Large tow operators send data electronically from their traffic centers. Smaller operators use fax and phone. Focus is on safety and security.

U.S. Coast Guard VTS Centers : 

U.S. Coast Guard VTS Centers Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) Centers

VTS Centers : 

VTS Centers Vessel Traffic Services Centers: Provide monitoring and navigational advice for vessels in confined and busy waterways. Shift from safety and navigation emphasis to security. Integrate data broadcast from vessels and from land-based sensors at central location. Vessel data: AIS Land-based sensors: radar, VHF, infrared, closed circuit TV. Put no additional burden on the mariner.


AIS Automatic Identification Systems. Developed by IMO (International Maritime Organization) to improve maritime safety, protect the environment, and improve VTS operations. Includes ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship communications. Automatically broadcasts position, ID, and other static, dynamic, and voyage related data. Receives data from other AIS units.

VTS New Orleans: 

VTS New Orleans

VTS New Orleans: 

VTS New Orleans Sensors and cameras transmit data back to the vessel traffic Center.

VTS Vessel Display: 

VTS Vessel Display

VTS Louisville : 

VTS Louisville Operates on a 13 mile stretch of the Ohio River during high water. Guides vessels through waters near the Falls of the Ohio. Operated as a part-time “on demand" service. Manned by Active and Reserve duty personnel. Operates 45 days each year on average, but has operated for as long as 106 days.

St. Lawrence Seaway: 

St. Lawrence Seaway 15 locks: 740’ long; 80’ wide; 30’ deep. Montreal – Lake Ontario: 22-24 hours transit time. 2 U.S. locks. 5 Canadian locks. Welland Canal: Connects lake Ontario and Lake Erie. 27 miles, 8 locks (Canadian). 3 Seaway Traffic Control Centers: AIS implemented starting in 2002.

St. Lawrence Seaway: 

St. Lawrence Seaway Bi-national cooperation. United States: 2 locks (Eisenhower and Snell) in middle of Seaway. Managed by St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. (SLSDC - agency within DOT). Canada: 13 locks at ends of Seaway. Managed by St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC - private not-for-profit corp.) Locks owned by Government of Canada.

St. Lawrence Seaway: 

St. Lawrence Seaway

Seaway Control Center: 

Seaway Control Center

St. Lawrence Seaway: 

St. Lawrence Seaway

Seaway TMS and AIS: 

Seaway TMS and AIS Traffic Management System (TMS): Manages data for all transits and vessels. Broadcasts safety and navigation information to vessels. AIS integrated into TMS in 2002. Vessels also report at call in points. Cost = $2.1 million. Estimated savings = $300,000/year. Do not generally re-sequence vessels at locks. Little variability in lockage times (all lockages are a single ship). Traffic management still relies heavily on voice transmissions.

AIS and TMS Cost: 

AIS and TMS Cost

Europe - RIS: 

Europe - RIS RIS: River Information Services “a concept for harmonized information services which supports traffic and transport management in inland navigation, including interfaces to other transport modes.” Broad geographic and functional scope: 30,000 km of waterways in 11 countries. 11,500 vessels (mainly self propelled). 77.5 billion ton-miles in 2003.


Comprehensive Uses common systems to link: Pilots. Tow companies. Lock, harbor and terminal operators. RIS operators. Waterway authorities. Emergency responders. Also used for: Law enforcement. Statistical data collection. Waterway charges and port fees. Broader than U.S. Coast Guard IWS (Intelligent Waterways System) initiative.

Many Projects : 

Many Projects INDRIS: 1998 – 2002 Explored AIS and inland ECDIS (electronic chart display information systems). Developed framework and standards for communications and data. Identified value added services beyond VTS. COMPRIS: 2002-2005 (44 partners). Final phase before full-scale implementation. Provides architecture and standards for RIS: Functional, Information, Data, Physical and Organizational.

RIS Benefits: 

RIS Benefits Primary benefits: Improved competitiveness of the inland waterways. Optimized use of lock and terminal infrastructure. Improved safety and security. Enhanced environmental protection. Benefit – Cost ratios*: 5 for society. 3.5 for pilots. 1 for waterway authorities. * from an INDRIS demonstration project on the Rhine River.


SmartLock Lock navigation aid to assist pilots in the lock approach.  Developed for Port of Pittsburgh. Provides precise information, in near-real time, including: Distances between the tow and lock, and Conditions at the lock, such as dam opening, river & wind conditions. Uses differential GPS (DGPS) for high accuracy.

SmartLock Example: 

SmartLock Example Provides the pilot with information overlaid on an electronic navigation chart (ENC).  Example: A tow approaching Emsworth lock from upstream. Distances of the bow and stern from the guide wall. Distance from the bow to the bullnose.  Information about conditions (wind, dam opening, current, etc.). 

Benefits & Costs: 

Benefits & Costs Improves reliability, predictability, safety and efficiency at the lock.  Cost-savings include: Allowing locking in fog ($58 million/yr). Speeding lockages by 10 minutes ($10 million/yr). Reducing accidents: (>$1 million/yr). SmartLock costs: Towboat cost: approximately $14,000. Cost at lock: estimated at less than $13,000. 

Other Applications: 

Other Applications Panama Canal. VIPS – Vessel Identification and Positioning System Developed by Volpe Center. Used for Columbia River, Boston Harbor, Cape Cod Canal. VMS (vessel monitoring systems) for fisheries.

Panama Canal: 

Panama Canal 80 km with 6 pairs of locks in 3 sets. 8-10 hours to transit. CTAN (Communication, Traffic Management and Navigation) system since 2000. Track well in advance of arrival. Pre-arrival notice of 96 hours. Use portable GPS/AIS units for transit ($150).


VIPS Extends technology from Panama Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway Focus on port security. Combines AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) information and shore and ship-based remote sensing. Geographic display includes automated alerts. Also used for navigation and environmental protection.


VMS Vessel Monitoring Systems. Required by NMFS for compliance in certain off-shore fisheries. Hourly polling for locations of vessels. Many commercial providers of VMS systems world-wide. Use satellite-based systems. Argos, Inmarsat, OrbComm, Boatracs, etc. Cost split between owners and government.

Technologies for Vessel Tracking: 

Technologies for Vessel Tracking Find vessel position. GPS, Triangulation with satellites or shore-based antenna. Communicate vessel position to shore station. Satellite, VHF Radio, AIS. Integrate information for traffic management. Communications links to traffic center. Integration software.


Technologies Land Station Traffic Center Lock 1. Positioning 3. Integration 2. Communications


Technologies Vessel Location. GPS: accuracy to 10 meters. DGPS: accuracy much better. Other satellite systems: lesser accuracy. AIS. Land Communications. Standard telecom methods: Satellite, radio, microwave, land lines, etc. Internet.

Satellite-based Positioning : 

Satellite-based Positioning Current satellite systems provide a variety of options: ARGOS, Inmarsat, Boatracs, OrbComm, etc. Technology Assessment of Mobile Satellite System Alternatives”, U.S. Coast Guard R&D Center, 1998. Many vendors provide packages (equipment + software) for communications and positioning.

Inmarsat & OrbComm: 

Inmarsat & OrbComm Inmarsat Focuses on maritime safety worldwide and GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System). Heavily used for ocean carriers and fishing fleets. OrbComm 30 satellites provide global coverage. Received Coast Guard contract in June 2004 to provide AIS capability. Plan new satellite launch in 2006 for AIS. Partners provide tracking and communication services.


Boatracs Maritime version of QUALCOMM’s OmniTracs. Accuracy: ~100 meters. Combines location and secure communications. Leases space on satellites. Provides automatic hourly updates and position with every message. Used on UMR and in TSA sponsored test on Columbia and Snake Rivers in 11/2003. Cost per boat: $3500 + $150/month for messaging.


AIS Ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship communications with broadcasting radius ~20-30 miles. Required on commercial vessels on international voyages. Towing vessels over 26 feet and 600 hp. Self propelled commercial vessels over 65 feet. Passenger vessels with more than a specified number of passengers. Vessels in VTS and Vessel Movement Reporting Service (VMRS) areas.

AIS Data & Equipment: 

AIS Data & Equipment Automatically broadcasts static, dynamic, and voyage related data. Static data: Vessel ID, length and beam, type, antenna location. Dynamic data: Position, course, speed, heading, rate of turn. Voyage related data: Draft, hazardous cargo type, destination, ETA. Receives data from other AIS units. Vessel unit includes positioning (e.g., GPS), microprocessor and VHF-FM transceiver.

AIS Benefits: 

AIS Benefits Improved safety and security: Safer operations in foul weather. Better environmental protection. Better emergency response. Improved efficiency: Reduced transit times. Better scheduling of lockages and vessel tie-ups. Better scheduling of inspections and pilotage services.

AIS on the UMR?: 

AIS on the UMR? Coast Guard: “Recognizing that AIS may ultimately be required…what waterways should be implemented before others?” ACBL’s response: Add AIS on Mississippi River below St. Louis and give high priority to this Illinois River. Give lesser priority to Upper Mississippi. “doubts that…AIS will substantially improve the mariner’s ability to safely and efficiently navigate the Mississippi River…” Letters to Docket Management Facility, Dept. of Transportation, RE: USCG-2003-14878-75 and USCG-2003-14757-101

Vessel Tracking Lockage Information System : 

Vessel Tracking Lockage Information System Collects, manages and displays appropriate information for a scheduling system. Integrates tow tracking and traffic (and lock) management. The information needed depends on the type of traffic and lockage management. Geographic scope ranges from: Single lock and adjacent pools. Multiple locks and pools. Entire riverway. Vessel location data ranges from: Existing data (OMNI). Near-real time locations (e.g., every hour). Real time locations.

Issues for Finding Tow Locations: 

Issues for Finding Tow Locations Key issues are how and when to find and communicate tow locations. How much does real time or near-real time vessel tracking add for reducing congestion? How much positional and temporal accuracy is needed on the UMR? Cost increases with positional and temporal accuracy (more call in points or more frequent updates).

Tracking Questions: 

Tracking Questions What type of vessel tracking is best? Ability to partner with other relevant parties? U.S. Coast Guard? Carriers? When will AIS be required on the UMR? How to find locations? Automatic: Remote sensing, AIS, etc. Manual (reporting by tows). When to report locations? At specified call in points: How many? At periodic intervals: How often?


Alternatives Track tows using the existing (OMNI) data. Track tows using near-real time data reported by the vessel/carrier (IRVMC). Track tows using real time tow tracking with traffic management centers (St. Lawrence Seaway). Do nothing.

Tow Tracking Summary : 

Tow Tracking Summary Real time and near-real time tow tracking is certainly feasible on the UMR. Technologies for tow tracking are well tested. Integration of tow tracking and lock scheduling is feasible, but not yet in place.

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