Payment & Account FAQ

Product FAQ

In addition to AIS, what other maritime data can the BOD portal provide?

The BigOceanData portal can collect and integrate data from a large number of dedicated on-board tracking devices from satellite service providers such as Argos, Globalstar, Inmarsat-C, Iridium, Isat Data Pro, Orbcomm and Skywave.  It also has interfaces for GPRS (mobile telephony) and short-range radio for bespoke near-shore vessel management solutions.  Data from any of these devices can be combined with the global AIS picture to deliver highly detailed situational awareness to fleet operators and other users. Using BigOceanData as the hub of consolidated satellite information for navigation, safety and security data can deliver substantial cost savings by minimising the time spent transmitting duplicated information.

The portal also provides fully interactive environmental data to aid vessel management. This includes forecast and current weather conditions (including on-map wind displays), sea state/wave height, ocean currents, piracy incidents and sensitive navigation zones including Marpol, War Risk and Nav Area Warnings.

Can I integrate my own, in house data, with the BOD portal information?

The BigOceanData portal has been designed for straightforward data exchange with third party systems via a comprehensive Application Programming Interface (API).  This gateway to the BigOceanData data environment allows information to be streamed directly to a client’s in-house application. A small amount of development may be required to enable this interface, which can either be undertaken by the client or by BigOceanData engineers, if required.

Since the inception of the business in the mid-1990s, BigOceanData has acted as technology enabler to a wide variety of government organisations and other businesses.  It specialises in analysing a client’s specific needs and then finding cost-effective ways of integrating its data into the BigOceanData platform.

Essentially, it provides a full range of data integration solutions ranging from straightforward API implementation through to creating dedicated data environments to match exactly the needs of each customer. Please contact sales@bigoceandata.com or call +44 (0) 207 998 3048 to discuss your needs and commercial terms.

Can the BOD portal be used to monitor containers or other items of cargo?

Yes, the portal supports a number of technologies that enables the tracking of containers or other large cargo items from source to point of delivery.  This multi-modal tracking system is based on tracking both the container itself and the vehicles and vessels that carry it through the supply chain.  The complex nature of such solutions requires the cooperation of third-party organisations throughout the logistics process and usually involves the development of some form of bespoke reporting capability on the BigOceanData portal.

Should I have privacy concerns regarding using AIS data to manage my fleet?

The core principle of the AIS system is that the basic vessel data (position, course, speed etc.) is openly available for safety at sea purposes.  This information is, therefore, in the public domain.  However, any subsequent manipulation of that data by BigOceanData is undertaken in a highly-secure data environment within which individual client data is held in total privacy.  So, while BigOceanData has no influence on the privacy or security of AIS data prior to receiving it into its systems, once it has the data BigOceanData protects it completely together with any subsequent manipulation of the data and any other interactions.

If a client requires a totally private vessel management solution then the alternative is to fit dedicated tracking devices based on satellite communications for deep-sea applications or GPRS (mobile telephony) and short-range radio for inshore and inland requirements.  In addition to offering complete privacy, these solutions provide two-way communications thereby enabling direct contact with the vessel if required.

Can I track my private boat using BigOceanData?

Anyone can purchase and fit a Class-B AIS transponder on their boat, generally without needing a license. The units are very compact, inexpensive and require only a power source and antenna. Most leading manufacturers of leisure navigations products offer a range of transponders, receivers and electronic chartplotters that can display the results on board the boat. Once fitted, the user can track the boat via BigOceanData from any PC, laptop, smart device and other IP-enabled devices capable of running a web browser.

How often are vessel positions updated on BigOceanData?

Currently data refresh rates vary widely between providers and the different packages that they offer, with faster services commanding premium prices. Data is collected frequently by terrestrial AIS, although delivery to BigOceanData is of course dependent on the servers and telecoms links through which they must travel to reach their end destination. The latest T-AIS data is uploaded to the BigOceanData user interface every five minutes.

Satellite-AIS (S-AIS) data is more complex. BigOceanData, in conjunction with its partners, offers all its customers the fastest and most frequent update service available. The latest S-AIS data is uploaded to the BigOceanData user interface every five minutes. However factors such as a vessel’s location, traffic density and the capability of a particular satellite have an impact on the speed of the signal as it travels from the vessel to the satellite, is processed, and then returns to Earth and the telecoms network. This delay is known as latency. As a relative newcomer, S-AIS is developing all the time as more and better satellites and increased bandwidth make data processing and transmission more efficient. As a result latency times are falling all the time. In the meantime, BigOceanData’s five minute refresh rate ensures that its data is the very latest available.

BigOceanData works with the companies at the forefront of this process and by the third quarter of 2016 expects to offer an average latency of less than 30 minutes. For a vessel travelling at 10 knots this represents a distance lag of just five nautical miles – a very short distance in oceanic terms. In the future this time delay will only get shorter still and BigOceanData is committed to ensuring that its customers receive the fastest updates possible.

I have subscribed but can’t access the service. What do I do now?

Please contact our support desk by email support@bigoceandata.com

I would like to start a free trial but can’t access the service. What do I do now?

Please contact our support desk by email support@bigoceandata.com.

What does the free trial include?

The free trial lasts for 7-days from the point of activation. It gives full access to all BigOceanData’s standard functionality. This includes:

  • Access to tracking information on up to five vessels using both satellite and terrestrial AIS
  • Access to historic tracking information on the five vessels selected for live tracking, using both satellite and terrestrial AIS
  • Access to Google maps and Jeppesen maritime charts
  • View any one of 12 environmental data sets including weather forecasts for up to five days ahead
  • View maritime pollution (MARPOL) special areas, Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), piracy alerts, and other important routing information
  • The ability to produce and view reports on-line.
Are there any browsers that don’t support BOD?

BOD can be used on all major browsers, including IE9 and above, Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

How many users can login to my account?

The standard account can have up to five user logons. This can be upgraded using a bolt-on to 30 user logins. Contact us if more than 30 logins are required.

Can I have more than 30 user logins?

Yes of course, please contact sales@bigoceandata.com

I’ve been automatically logged out, why is this?

The most common reason for an unexpected logout is that that the system allows only one active session per user. Should a second user log in with the same username, it will automatically end the first session. For that reason, users should avoid sharing their usernames and passwords with other individuals.

Is BigOceanData compatible with my mobile device?

BigOceanData is fully compatible with the full range of web browsers  on PCs, laptops and mobile devices.

I have a subscription. How do I log in on my mobile device/tablet?

Once the new software is available, you will be able to use any mobile device to directly access the BOD portal using your standard username and password.

Can I add additional bolt-ons once my account is operational?

Yes, you can.  Simply select the bolt-ons you require and click the subscribe button.  You will have access to the new bolt-on as soon as you have added it to your subscription account.

How do I update my BigOceanData account information?

This can be done any time via the Account page in the Administration section.

Is there a minimum subscription period?

The minimum subscription period is 12 months for all tariffs.  However, for certain, bespoke applications BOD is willing to offer shorter contract terms.  Please contact sales@bigoceandata.com  or call +44 (0) 207 998 3048 to discuss your needs – we will do our best to help.

Will my annual subscription include software updates and service improvements?

Yes – the BOD platform is constantly being updated to improve functionality and overall system performance. This occurs automatically with no action required by the user. All clients automatically benefit from these regular upgrades to the platform.

How do I add vessels to my fleet?

Adding new vessels to your fleet is quick and simple. Just login to BOD, locate the vessel on the map, click vessel icon and then click the ADD TO FLEET button.

Can I set up separate fleets within one account?

No, but Asset Tags can be used to categorise and group together different vessel types, effectively creating separate fleets.

How do I remove vessels from my account?

Go to the MyFleet page within the Administration section, select the vessel to be removed and then select the remove option.

Can I remove a vessel and replace it with another?

Yes, a maximum of 10% of MyFleet can be swapped during the contract term. Individual vessels removed in one month can be replaced in following months.

I have forgotten my username and / or password. How can I recover them?

To recover your password, use the forgotten password link on the login page to reset your password. If you have forgotten your username, please contact support@bigoceandata.com.

How do I cancel my account?

If you do not wish to renew your subscription at the end of your 12-month contract period, simply cancel the auto renew by visiting the cancel option within the Administration/Subscription section. Otherwise your subscription will be automatically renewed each year.

If you inadvertently cancel your auto-renew subscription, you can reinstate your account using the resume option in the Administration/Subscription section.

How do I set up a Complex Query?

The Complex Query function can be used to display historic activity in a defined area between user defined dates. The columns can be re-ordered and sorted as with Vessels In View.

The results are displayed on the right-hand table.

Highlighting a vessel will centre the vessel on the screen.

By selecting vessels in the left-hand panel, this will draw the vessel track during the selected time period.

The right-hand panel can be sized by:
• Single click on orange bar to close/open.
• Single click on white bar (when closed) to temporarily open and close again when mouse has left the area
• Drag on white bar (when open) to change size of area


Why can’t I find the vessel I’m looking for?

There can be a number of reasons why you may not be able to see a vessel.

  • The AIS transponder may not be switched on.
  • The AIS antenna may be covered or damaged.
  • The Class B AIS transponders used by small commercial (<300 GRT) and leisure vessels transmit a weaker signal than SOLAS-compliant Class A transponders. This may not always be picked up by a satellite.
  • The signal may be briefly ‘crowded out’ when a vessel is sailing in a busy area.
  • The vessel may be sailing in polar regions, where satellite coverage is poor.
How does AIS work?

The International Maritime Organisation’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea requires that an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder be fitted aboard all international voyaging ships with a gross tonnage (GT) of 300 tonnes or more, as well as on all passenger ships regardless of size in order to reduce the risk of collision in conditions of poor visibility. The transponder acts as a beacon, both transmitting a standardised signal containing the GPS position and identification information to any receiver within range, and receiving the signals from any third-party transponder within range. Data from receivers connected to the internet via land telecoms networks or satellite upload can be aggregated, analysed and displayed by web-based services such as BigOceanData.

AIS coastal stations can monitor the positions of all vessels equipped with AIS within range (typically out to 10-20 nautical miles).  This allows authorities ashore to improve their awareness of local vessel movements and to enhance existing coverage from shore-based radar systems.

Since 2010 it has become increasingly common for AIS data to also be collected using satellites equipped to monitor AIS VHF frequencies. Satellite-AIS (S-AIS) allows AIS data to be collected when ships are beyond the normal coverage of coastal receiving stations (Terrestrial-AIS) thereby providing pan-oceanic vessel monitoring capabilities.  The use of satellites means that S-AIS data comes at a cost, whereas T-AIS is generally available free of charge.

How does Satellite AIS work?

Suitably equipped, low earth orbit satellites can pick up and decode the signals directly from the vessels themselves and re-transmit the data back to receiving earth stations. Experiments using satellites to collect AIS data began in the mid-2000s with regular data services appearing in 2010.  There are now a number of suppliers who collect and process the data before making it available to software service providers such as BigOceanData.

The coverage offered by Satellite-AIS (S-AIS) providers is continually improving and data accuracy is already very good.  However, orbit patterns and the need to download and process the data before it can be made available to service providers such as BigOceanData means that there is latency between the time of the collection of a position report and its availability to the BOD portal.

How does BOD use AIS to monitor vessel activity?

BigOceanData takes AIS data from a combination of terrestrial and satellite AIS receivers and combines this with data from a plethora of other sources to provide vessel operators and port agencies with all they need to understand, manage and react to vessel activity.

The AIS information is displayed on the BigOceanData user interface against a map backdrop based on Google maps but with full access to global sea charts supplied by C-Map. A single click takes the user from the vessel icon on the map to detailed information such as vessel activity for the last 72 hours and the last 10 port calls made by the ship.

A full report suite is available to facilitate more detailed analysis of vessel activity, either on an individual or whole-fleet basis.  The production of these reports can be automated and they can be sent to pre-agreed e-mail or SMS addresses on a scheduled basis if required.

The AIS information can also be overlaid with weather and sea state information, piracy activity and boundaries for sensitive areas such as those covered by Nav Area Warnings and Marpol Zones.

Can I use AIS to communicate with a vessel?

No, the AIS system does not support two-way communications aside the exchange of the pre-programmed data.  For applications where such communications are necessary or where specific data needs to be sent from vessels to operations HQs ashore, dedicated vessel management devices are required.  Such devices use maritime communications services such as Inmarsat and Iridium to send data from ship-to-shore, and vice versa.  These devices provide high levels of cooperation between vessels and shore-based operating agencies. However they require the use of satellite airtime for the transmission of the data signals.

For many applications, such as fishery control and offshore security solutions, these cooperative devices are essential.  BigOceanData has been supplying end-to-end solutions of this kind since the mid-1990s. It remains one of only a few service providers in the world able to combine data from dedicated tracking devices with AIS data for advanced vessel tracking and management applications.

Can AIS be used for Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) purposes?

No, AIS cannot be used for SSAS as it does not support the sending from ship to shore of a ‘Panic’ alert.  Essentially, the SSAS legislation requires a dedicated, two-way, tracking and communications device. Typically, Inmarsat-C equipment is used for SSAS although other devices can also satisfy the requirements.

The BigOceanData portal includes a ‘SSAS Alert Manager’ feature to collect SSAS alerts and send them on to the relevant flag authorities by e-mail and/or SMS.  This re-routing of the alert is automatic but is accompanied by an on-screen pop-up to alert the local vessel management team. All alerts are recorded in the system database and can be re-produced in report format.

BigOceanData supports a number of different type-approved SSAS devices, including the Sailor 6120, which can be supplied whenever new or replacement equipment is required.  Where a supplier of a SSAS service is no longer available or a change in provider is required, existing SSAS equipment can be ‘repointed’ to the BigOceanData portal so that the reporting and alerting functionality can be preserved.

The BigOceanData portal supports the integration of SSAS-derived vessel position information with global AIS data so as to provide enhanced tracking and management services, either for routine operations or for specific maritime security incidents.

Can AIS data be used to investigate past events or incidents?

Yes, BigOceanData has access to historical data from a number of suppliers going back to 2009.  This data can be uploaded into the portal and accessed directly by the client.  Alternatively, BigOceanData can analyse data on behalf of clients, providing specific report outputs as required. The BigOceanData portal holds a minimum of 12 months of AIS data live, online for immediate access by its customers at any time.

Are there alternatives to AIS for use in vessel management applications?

Prior to AIS being deployed in 2002 it was common practice to use dedicated satellite-based tracking devices to follow ships’ movements. These devices are still widely in use today for specialist applications such as Long Range Identification and Tracking, SSAS, Fisheries Vessel Monitoring, Oilfield Security Solutions, and wherever two-way communications are required to enable cooperation between the vessel at sea and the shore-based management organisation.

BigOceanData pioneered the use of Inmarsat-C for the co-operative tracking of fishing vessels in the mid-1990s.  Since then, we have used Argos, Globalstar, Inmarsat-C, Iridium, Isat Data Pro, Orbcomm and Skywave satellite devices, and GPRS and short-range radio-based technologies and beacons, to track and manage vessels both near and offshore.  We are able to combine data from any of these devices with global AIS information to provide a high quality resource for vessel operators and port authorities.

How can AIS be used to assist port-based organisations?

The BigOceanData portal continuously monitors vessel movements at all ports throughout the world.  Data for each port is held in the BigOceanData database and can be retrieved at the click of a mouse to provide users with:

  • Details of all ships visiting any port in the past 12 months – entry and exit times etc.
  • Details of all ships en-route to a port, with forecast expected arrival times
  • Alerts as vessels enter or leave a port
  • Where available, cargo details can be provided for individual vessels

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