One of the first papers presented for SubOptic 2013 is entitled “Protecting Subsea Cables Using AIS.”  The presenter is Mike Cuddinton, of BT.

Automated Identification System (AIS) is a system that gives real time location information for ships and other subsea assets.  According to Cuddington, it presents an opportunity to give location information that could greatly assist companies in protecting their cable systems.

AIS data couple with Geographic Information system can help inform a company if a vessel is approaching a cable or stopped over a cable.  It can also inform on what kind of ship it is.  It can also inform a company after the fact to determine what may have cause damage or help find a specific fault area.

Proactive protection is the main goal for AIS.  It can be used to create a buffer zone around cables that would inform you if there is any ship in the area.

There have been existing successes in using AIS, says Cuddington.  Within BT, they have prevented cable faults. There have been 15 known instances where AIS informed the company that a ship was in the area and pre-warned them.

In the future, there should be advancements in AIS satellite coverage.  Also, the database is of ship movements should eventually include fishing zones, anchorage, and more which would assist desktop studies.