Situational awareness has always been, and always will be, important to people in their everyday lives. Before we set out for an outdoor activity, we want to know if it will rain. When contemplating financial investments, we seek information to better evaluate the risks. In our jobs we gather information about markets and competitors to help us make wise business decisions.
common information sharing
Working in exceedingly dynamic and often harsh conditions, complete and up-to-date information is absolutely vital to pilots and mariners maneuvering ever larger ships in often narrow and busy waterways. Amongst many other factors, the pilot needs awareness of channel conditions, weather, sea-state, vessel traffic, and port logistics, In addition to the local conditions that affect his own ship, the pilot must know what to expect ahead. Moreover, he needs to share knowledge about his local conditions with other mariners, and receive knowledge from others that might affect his own passage. A common information data set, shared by all parties involved in port operations, enormously improves safety and efficiency, ultimately improving profit margins for all.
single point of access to a multitude of information
The diverse set of information that leads to full and complete situational awareness comes from many sources. In a port situation it is much more efficient to gather all the pertinent information in one place and distribute it to all involved parties, than it is for each party to gather the information individually. A decided advantage is that centrally gathered information ensures all parties are looking at the same data set. The Connect Server for Qastor is designed to gather information from many different sources, often updated in an ongoing manner, and to distribute all the information from that centrally gathered common data set to multiple users, including pilots using the Qastor ECS aboard ships.
The Connect Server can be used to synchronize files between a server and any number of clients. Alternatively the server can distribute dynamic or live information. The configuration of access to all data sources is done one time only on the server. The user simply has to select the relevant data and use it.
validated traffic image
Not every vessel carries an AIS transponder, and it is the port Vessel Traffic System (VTS), augmenting AIS with radar imagery, that maintains a complete validated traffic image which, when made available to the Connect Server, can be distributed to Connect Clients. AIS is already a standard feature in Qastor, able to display all AIS targets within VHF range of own vessel. Receiving the complete validated traffic image from the Qonnect Server means radar tracked targets are also displayed in Qastor.
Keeping ENCs updated on the computers of all users has proven to be a hassle. The Connect Server allows them to share their ENC portfolio with their users. Qastor employs an automated chart updating mechanism that communicates with the Connect Server to ensure the pilot’s chart portfolio is always up to date. The Connect Server is smart enough to only update the local portfolio with charts having an update available. It also keeps a history of chart updates, so the user can revert to previous chart updates if necessary.
hydro and meteorological data
Real-time hydro and meteorological data can be distributed via the Connect Server, giving the Client real-time information about current, wave height, wind speed and direction, and various other associated information that is shared.
Client users can easily create annotations in Qastor referencing certain events that they have experienced or additional information for a specific location. For instance a shoal in the fairway, a buoy out of position or mooring instructions. Digital pictures can be added in order to complete the annotation files which can be uploaded to the Connect Server for sharing with other users.
If necessary the Connect server can be easily expanded with other data information sources in order to give the user other important and up to date information. The Connect server is based on a foundation that accommodates both real-time and more static data to be added with little effort.