System Overview from US Coast Guard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
June 17, 2012: An official from Google recently announced at a defense technology conference that his firm would soon roll out a feature that would allow any Internet user to track all ships at sea, including U.S. Navy warships, in real time. The Google official was angry that the navy itself did not have this capability. This shocked many in the audience and later embarrassed the Google official. Turns out that the navy has had this tracking capability since the 1980s, when it began equipping its ships with AIS (Automatic Identification System) transmitters that all large ships are required to carry in order to qualify for insurance.
For more than a decade satellites have been used to more rapidly collect and distribute the AIS transmissions, making it easier for these large ships to be tracked. Shipping companies are…
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