MarineTraffic provides free, near real-time information to the public regarding vessels' positions, their details and voyage-related information. The initial data collection is based on the Automatic Identification System (AIS).
The AIS-transmitted information that vessels periodically send is being picked up by MarineTraffic's network of coastal receiving stations (provided that the vessel is within its range). The vast majority of these stations is operated by contributors who are using MarineTraffic-provided equipment or have added their already existing AIS-receiving stations to the MarineTraffic network.
All collected information is sent to MarineTraffic's central database. The central database processes the incoming data, stores the most important part of it and, finally, utilizes it to display the relative information on the MarineTraffic Live Map. Ports' and areas' geographic information is also stored along with other information. Thus, users of MarineTraffic can have access to any vessel's position history, statistics and details among other services or use this information to build their own applications using MarineTraffic API services.
Data received is uploaded in our database in real time and, therefore, it is immediately available on the Live Map and on other pages. However, several positions shown on it may not be continuously refreshed - for example, when a vessel goes out of range, as coastal receiving stations have a maximum range of a certain distance. Please, note also that the Live Map is only periodically being refreshed or whenever the user manually refreshes it. As you probably know, coloured icons represent any vessel's position, heading and movement status on the Live Map.
Due to the way the MarineTraffic system is built, overall coverage keeps expanding! Actually, anyone is able to contribute to the data collection. If you are interested in participating in our network of receiving stations, you can read more on the subject here or, even, apply for a free AIS-receiver (a pre-programmed, customised MarineTraffic-branded receiver by Comar with which we may be able to provide you). On the other hand, in case you already have a receiving station you can add it to our network in a breeze!
Your new station will be listed in the relevant search pages while a unique Station Details page will also be created containing all the specific details and statistics regarding it. Most importantly, you will get your area fully covered with map positions, vessel tracks, port information, historical data search and every other service that is offered through our website. You could, even, embed a Live Map of your area in your own website!