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Norcontrol IT develops 3rd generation AIS network software

Norcontrol IT has developed its 3rd generation of AIS network infrastructure software. A wealth of new functionality has been integrated into the previous version, to provide AIS operators with more access and greater control of the data transmitted via the AIS network. The new software also provides greater tools for technicians and system administrators.

AIS has been a key issue in the marine industry since before the millennium, with deadlines passed now for the majority of commercial vessels to carry and use AIS. Shore based AIS networks have been in progress around the world for several years, and have been implemented in some respects in response to the ISPS code, to enable Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) to make the best use of AIS data to improve safety, security and efficiency. A leading supplier of VTS systems, Norcontrol IT has now become an authority on shore based AIS networks. The company first used the technology as far back as 1992 when it installed a GPS transponder network at the Port of London. Though not officially AIS, the system was a preview of the AIS networks of today.

Since 1992, Norcontrol IT's experience and expertise in the development of AIS network software has grown considerably. The company has provided AIS integration for several existing VTS/VTMIS customers throughout the world, including Singapore and the UK, where Norcontrol IT is involved in the AIS network trial. The latest evolution of the software is a culmination of this combined AIS and VTS experience and will be delivered for the Norwegian coastal AIS network, which is currently undergoing Acceptance testing, prior to going live in January 2005 for performance testing, with final delivery in March 2005.

Developed at the Norcontrol IT AIS R&D centre in Durban, South Africa, the 3rd generation of AIS software can be utilised with a standalone AIS network infrastructure or integrated with a full VTS/VTMIS. "Our AIS network solutions are now being used in the most hostile, remote and exposed marine environments and it was important to develop new tools to ensure our solutions meet these environmental challenges," says Brendan Mitchell, Norcontrol IT's AIS Product Manager. "Furthermore," Brendan went on to say, "AIS Network administrators have recognised that AIS data has a value to the larger maritime community and multiple user groups are required". The new functionality provided by Norcontrol IT's AIS network software is extensive, with key upgrades made to the AIS Service Manager (ASM), the Base Station Manager and the Node Manager forming the core of the new functionality

AIS Service Manager All user access is through the ASM, which can provide redundancy including full replication between databases. Functionality within the system is based on User Rights, which are configured by the User Access Manager and stored in either a LDAP or a SQL server compliant directory service. Fully integrated Network Health Monitoring of hardware and software provides highly resilient networks that monitor themselves and alarm if pre-programmed criteria is exceeded.

Base Station Manager The Base Station Manager is used to configure the base stations in the network and provides a graphical view of each base station slot map. The VDL Performance monitor calculates the base station's reception performance over selected time periods and a graphical positioning tool for each base station.

Node Manager The Node Manager provides configuration facilities for the remote nodes across the network and prevents unauthorised access to data on the network. Each user or user group can be allocated a virtual MMSI number so that addressed messages will be sent just to them. Data latency has also been improved, making data access very quick indeed even under high load conditions.

Norcontrol IT provides solutions for VTS, AIS and Management Information Systems (MIS) and is independent of hardware suppliers. "Our independence from hardware suppliers is very important," says Harald Ostby, Director of Sales & Marketing at Norcontrol IT. "It empowers our customers to keep the Total Cost of Ownership for any Norcontrol IT solution to a minimum - as our customers always maintain the right to choose."

Further details from: Harald Østby Norcontrol IT Tel: 47 33084800

Saul Trewern Saltwater Public Relations Tel: 44 (0)1202 669244