Virtual seaway seeks to make shipping safer, more efficient

by Canadian Shipper

The Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) and the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) are using the world wide web and global positioning system technology to increase maritime transportation safety on the Seaway and the Great Lakes, and to create efficiencies in vessel transit operations and administration.

The binational site, launching this week, seeks to become the major source for all information related to Great Lakes Seaway shipping. The site will provide comprehensive environmental data, including water levels and wind speeds, shipping and navigation information, rules, regulations and official forms, and links to every organization, port and government agency involved with the Great Lakes Seaway System.

The site is being developed in three releases. Release 1, with information, active links and a search engine, is currently available. Release 2, with more dynamic information, will be launched in May. Release 3, a fully interactive site with cargo matching, cost calculator, and full e-business capacity, is slated for launch in September.

In July, the Seaway’s Traffic Management System (TMS) will incorporate satellite technology in a new Automatic Vessel Identification System (AIS), which meets International Maritime Organization Standards. AIS is based on a transponder and computer screen combination that will soon be carried by every commercial vessel passing through the Seaway.

AIS is being field-tested this year and will become mandatory for all commercial vessels in 2002. It is expected to improve safety on the Seaway by transmitting precise environmental information to vessels and by showing them where all the vessels are, with their course and speed.

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