is selected to prevent the system design from being driven by equipment vendors or the acquisition process rather than actual needs. Second, the components should not increase the workload of vessel crews unnecessarily. From this standpoint, the best technology is one that limits verbal radio exchanges to critical matters, minimizes the need to exchange fixed data, and enables mariners to extract the right data at the right time. Third, onboard equipment should meet both international carriage requirements and domestic standards, so the operating environment is consistent, training requirements can be standardized, and costs to vessel operators can be controlled. It is assumed that the equipment will meet appropriate standards of performance and interfacing.
Another key issue is the cost of the infrastructure required for mariners to benefit from a new technology. For example, the combination of DGPS and ECDIS promises to enhance both maritime safety and efficiency; however, several major infrastructure issues (e.g., upgrading nautical charts to the same level of accuracy as the positioning system) must be addressed before these benefits can be fully realized.
New technologies for the enhancement of rail and highway traffic efficiency and safety have been the subject of research carried out by the Intelligent Transportation Systems Office of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Some of the research areas have included electronic tracking tags, identifiers, position locators, and other automated systems that could perform the labor-intensive operations in traffic management. A recent review of these systems as applied to intermodal freight transportation listed applications ranging from smart cards and bar codes to cargo tracking using DGPS and transponder identifiers (Alyward, 1996). The USCG should monitor this research to take advantage of the latest innovations in transportation technology to help solve waterways management problems.
Waterways management depends fundamentally on well trained personnel following rules for safe vessel transits. However, technology can also contribute substantially to navigation safety. A number of opportunities exist for enhancing the effectiveness and application of technologies in the United States. The greater availability and use of electronic charts, PORTS, and AIS could enhance safety in many U.S. ports and waterways, if reliable funding can be arranged and carriage requirements can be established for transponders.
Determining where VTS systems should be installed and the specifics of their design is a complex process. The committee's vision calls for uniform VTS standards and capabilities across the nation, but the technological tools for each system would be selected on a port-by-port basis. The federal government is responsible for maritime safety, ensuring a consistent operating environment and compatible technologies, and enforcing regulations. Therefore, the federal government should be the competent authority for VTS systems and should provide vessel traffic management in areas where this would serve the national interest. The process for identifying ports that require new or enhanced VTS systems and for selecting the technologies to be used in each system should be updated and formally adopted. This process should take into account all of the USCG's missions.
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