When we think about Aids to Navigation, we usually think about lighthouses perched on a cliff or arrays of buoys guiding mariners towards safe routes of navigation and harbours, preserving lives and the environment. However, in our age of IoT – Internet of Things, there are other ways that AtoNs can guide seafarers and, notably, by providing live data on sea conditions, which are key to ensure accurate decision making.
By integrating sensors into buoys or other offshore and onshore AtoNs, we can deliver actionable meteorological and oceanographic information on a wide array of parameters to vessel crews and port management teams: currents, waves, winds and gusts, tides, barometric pressure, etc. This data will be key to adjust manoeuvres in approaches to port or to navigate difficult passages safely. Strategies to provide data directly to mariners can be implemented by authorities via dissemination through AIS Message 8, synthetized voice messages through VHF marine radio, displays or even web applications.
Moreover, this data can be used to manage in a more efficient way port operations using such systems to plan effectively and objectively opening and closing, arrivals and departures of ships, manoeuvres and anchorages of ships, crane manoeuvres, contingency plans, etc.
One step further, by also including environmental sensors, authorities can monitor water quality, the presence of pollutants and other parameters that allow determining the health of the marine environment and therefore contribute to the reduction of the negative impact of human activities on the oceans’ ecosystems.
At MSM Ocean we join the IALA today to celebrate World Marine Aids to Navigation Day 2023 and invite you to think on ways AtoNs can contribute to successful voyages and a sustainable planet!