WP4 Overview1 English (en) français (fr)

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Description of the work package

The workpackage AIS data aims to investigate whether real-time measurement data of ship positions, measured by the so-called AIS (Automatic Identification System), can be used

  • to improve the quality and internal comparability of existing statistics;
  • for new statistical products relevant for the ESS.

Improvement of quality and internal comparability can be obtained, for instance, by developing a reference frame of ships and their travels in European waters and then linking this reference frame, by ship number, to register-based data about marine transport from port authorities. These linked data can then be used for emission calculations. New products could be developed for, amongst others, traffic analyses.

The added value of running a pilot with AIS-data at European level is that the source data are generic worldwide and data can be obtained at European level. Challenges using this dataset include: obtaining the data at European level, processing and collecting the data in such way that they can be used for multiple purposes, and visualising the results. A part of this work package is also to look into AIS analyses done by others and to investigate the possibility of obtaining already processed data as input for creating comparable official statistics. It is particularly important to connect to other public authorities. This workpackage may involve data acquisition in collaboration with Eurostat.

Methodological, quality and technical results of the workpackage, including intermediate findings, are to be used as inputs for the planned WP8 of Methodology, foreseen for SGA-2, the second specific grant agreement. When carrying out the tasks listed below, care will be taken that these results will be stored for later use, by using the facilities provided by WP9 Dissemination.


Task 1 – Data access

AIS data are available for national territories and the entire European territory. For example, AIS data in the Netherlands are provided by RijksWaterStaat (a government agency which is part of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment). It is expected that similar agencies in other countries have the AIS-data for their national territories.The advantage of using one AIS dataset for the entire European territory is a) a better comparison of international traffic between the countries and b) more synergy as all participating countries work on the same dataset. A disadvantage is that these data are stored by private companies and handling fees have to be paid. Aim of this task is to decide how European data could be used for this project and if European data are too costly how national datasets can be obtained.

This task will involve:

  • Exploration of the possibilities to collect the data at a European (or worldwide) level.

Participants: NL, DK, EL, NO, PL

Task 2 – Data handling

Aim of this task is to process and store the data in such a way that they can be used for consistent multiple outputs, like

  • linking AIS-data with data from port authorities
  • traffic analyses
  • Inference of journeys from AIS data.

Key elements of this task are:

  • which programming language and environment to use for transformation;
  • where will data be processed (within each national statistical institute, by national statistical institutes at European level, by data holders);
  • how to create an environment which is easily accessible for all partners.

Participants: NL, NO, PL

Task 3 – Methodology and techniques

Develop traffic statistics: linking with data from port authorities.

AIS-data may be linked to data from port authorities. Added value of linking AIS-data to data from port authorities is that the same reference population (= ship number) is used in all harbours. As the journeys and harbour visists of ships can be derived from AIS this linking provides the ESS information about the origin/destination of the cargo, too.

Aims of this task are:

  • to build a reference frame of ships in European water (based on AIS data);
  • to find out how data from port authorities can be linked to AIS data;
  • to check whether information improves the quality of current statistical outputs and provides more information about the origin/destination of the cargo.

Participants: NL, NO, PL

Traffic analyses

The number of ships during a certain time interval at certain coordinates (like inland waterways or at certain points at sea) can be calculated by AIS data. This possibility will be explored because this information could be interesting for traffic analyses and economic analyses.

Aims of this task are:

  • calculate the number of ships at certain coordinates
  • visualise the results to analyse variations in time

Participants: NL, NO, PL, EL

Estimate emissions (envisaged under SGA-2)

This task involves following individual vessels through time. Consequently we can infer the journeys from the data. Combined with a model to estimate the emission of vessels (which depends on travel distance, speed, draught, weather conditions and characteristics of the vessel itself), emissions of e.g. CO2 and NOx can be estimated per ship and per national territory.

An advantage of doing these analyses on a European scale – rather than at the national level – is that more precise estimates for emissions at national territories can be be made.

Aim of this task is to:

  • infer journeys from AIS data;
  • visualise the results;
  • combine these journeys with a model to calculate emissions;
  • estimate the impact of carrying out these calculations at the European level on the quality of emissions calculations.

Task 4 – Future perspectives (envisaged under SGA-2)

Aim of this task is to summarise the project results and perform a qualitative cost-benefit analysis of using AIS-data for official statistics. These analyses should include aspects like sustainability of the data source, possibilities of improving international comparability, possibilities of datasharing (at micro- or aggregated level), quality improvement of current statistics and a sketch of a possible statistical process and needed infrastructure.

Deliverables (SGA-1 only)

  4.1     Report on creating a database with AIS-data for official statistics: possibilities and pitfalls   month 6
  4.2   Report about deriving harbour visits and linking data from port authorities with AIS-data   month 12
  4.3   Report about sea traffic analyses using AIS-data   month 18

Milestones (SGA-1 only)

  4.4   Progress and technical report of first internal WP-meeting   month 4
  4.5   Progress and technical report of second internal WP-meeting   month 9