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New AI monitoring tool introduced in the VTS service

The Norwegian Coastal Administration will soon introduce a new digital decision support tool based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms that provides more automated monitoring of ship traffic. The tool gives VTS centres a better basis for earlier detection of unwanted and critical traffic situations.

Vardø VTS in northern Norway, also known by mariners as NOR VTS, will be the first VTS to start using the support tool by mid-February. Thereafter, it will be gradually introduced at the four other VTS centres in southern Norway.

“We have seen how ocean and coastal traffic monitoring has changed for the better in step with new and more advanced technology. The new tool will be another supplement to our monitoring efforts, and lead to improved situational awareness in Norwegian waters,” says Ståle Sveinungsen, VTS Manager at Vardø VTS.


Provides decision support

The tool has been developed in the research and development project BEAN, where the goal is to create an advanced tool that provides decision support for early warning of unwanted traffic situations. The project is a collaboration between the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI) and Kongsberg Norcontrol. The algorithms have been developed by FFI, while Kongsberg Norcontrol is responsible for the integration of the algorithms in the software currently used in the VTS service.

“The tool will assist our VTS service with earlier detection of minor deviations that are difficult to detect by the human eye. We hope to shorten our response time for initiating preventive measures, thereby reducing the risk of serious incidents occurring,” says Jon Leon Ervik, Head of the department for Navigation Technology and Pilotage Management at the Norwegian Coastal Administration.


Calculates the risk of deviations

Artificial Intelligence in the form of algorithms automatically calculates a score that determines the risk level for near-future traffic deviations. The calculation relies on data from a fusion of sensors and systems, statistics, topographic conditions and a calculation of vessels' speed and course. When a possible deviation in a voyage is discovered, the VTS will receive an automatic notification. The warning contains proposed course of actions to prevent the deviation from escalating to an undesirable traffic situation or serious incident. 

The new decision support tool will be introduced in several phases. In the autumn, even more algorithms will be introduced that can provide possible route and meeting calculations for vessels in the VTS areas, aiming to improve traffic regularity.  

The VTS service is one of the Norwegian Coastal Administration's focus areas in the years ahead. VTS is an effective and risk-reducing measure that significantly contributes to reducing the number of groundings and collisions in VTS regulated areas. In a maritime safety analysis published in 2014 by DNV GL for the Ministry of Transport and Communications, traffic monitoring from VTS centres was generally considered to have a very good socio-economic benefit.

Facts

  • The Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) is an internationally regulated service that aims to improve maritime safety and protect the environment in the coastal zone. In Norway, the VTS service is operated by the Norwegian Coastal Administration.
  • The Norwegian Coastal Administration has four VTS centres in southern Norway that monitor and organize ship traffic in defined risk areas in inland waters. A fifth VTS, Vardø VTS, monitors high-risk traffic along the entire Norwegian coast and in the sea areas around Svalbard.
  • The VTS centres provide information services, navigation assistance and traffic organization using a number of monitoring and communication systems such as radar, land and satellite-based AIS, VHF communications, meteorological sensors and video surveillance.
  • In 2020, the coastal VTS service in southern Norway registered around 390,000 ship movements in their VTS areas. 

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