Interactive Ship Traffic Map
Since 2004, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has required vessels to carry an AIS (Automatic Identification System) transponder on board, which transmits their position, speed and course, among some other static information, such as vessel’s name, dimensions and voyage details. All this data has been pulled together into an academic, open, community-based project: MarineTraffic.com
Here we see ships "squeezing" through the Straits of Gibraltar.
The data is uploaded in the database in real time, and the positions on the map are correct to within one hour.
The project is currently hosted by the Department of Product and Systems Design Engineering, University of the Aegean, Greece. While the system is not intended as a method to enhance safety at sea (in other words, don't use this tool to avoid collisions), the creators intend this data to be used as research to simulate vessel movements in order to contribute to the safety of navigation as well as provide design models for the spotting of the origin of pollution and creating efficient algorithms for sea path evaluation and for determining the estimated time of ship arrivals.
It is also just fun to watch the ships moving about.
My first fear about this tool, was that it might be used for evil purposes. Couldn't pirates use this tool to plan their next attack? Fortunately, the mapping tool does not extend to the Horn of Africa waters near Somalia.
Via Coming Anarchy