The Santa Barbara Channel is one of several places where whale migration patterns overlap with shipping lanes, resulting in ship strikes that are often fatal for the animals. Geospatial technology has been used to study the patterns of strikes and create avoidance strategies, but collisions continue. Can a real-time geospatial system, integrated with advances in other hardware and software technologies, provide a framework for further reducing whale strikes? The goal is an integrated system that provides specific, actionable information to individual vessels. A combination of sensors, unmanned platforms (aerial and underwater), and VGI support could help pinpoint potential collisions and suggest avoidance tactics. It's a classic spatiotemporal problem: some known elements (large vessels constrained to shipping lanes) and others (whale location) based on predicted behavior and limited observation. Adding real-time capabilities could supply the definitive and specific information that is more likely to alter ship speed and avoid strikes.
Dec 17th, 2013