exactEarth Europe Limited, a UK subsidiary of exactEarth Ltd, the leading provider of Satellite AIS data services, has been awarded a £1.1 million grant from the UK Space Agency (UKSA) under its ‘International Partnerships Programme’ (IPP). The IPP funding will support the operational deployment of exactEarth’s Satellite AIS-based small vessel tracking technology “exactTrax” to improve safety of life at sea (SOLAS) for South Africa’s small boat owners and operators – in particular the artisanal fishing sector. As such exactEarth Europe will be working closely on the project with the ‘South African Maritime Safety Authority’ (SAMSA) and South Africa’s ‘National Sea Rescue Institute’ (NSRI).
The grant award follows the successful ‘South Africa Safety Initiative for Small Vessels’ (OASIS) project, also part funded by the UK Space Agency, which trialed exactEarth’s exactTrax service with SAMSA in 2015/2016. Small vessels in the fisheries, leisure marine and workboat sectors in South Africa typically operate without a tracking system onboard, making it difficult for the authorities to locate them if they are involved in an accident at sea. OASIS demonstrated that exactEarth’s exactTrax technology provides the small vessel tracking required by the safety authorities.
Under this new project, ‘OASIS Operational Take-up’ (OASIS-TU), South Africa’s most ‘at-risk’ small boat population - artisanal fishing boats under 10 metres - will be operationally equipped with exactTrax-enabled AIS transponders. Position reports (and alerts in the case of SOS situations) from these will be provided as standard AIS messages for integration into SAMSA’s and the NSRI’s maritime domain awareness and Search and Rescue (SaR) systems. To assist with the roll-out of the project, exactEarth will be partnering with two South African companies, Marine Data Solutions and Stone Three Venture Technology, both based in Cape Town. The expected duration of this project is 18 months.
“We are extremely pleased to have been awarded this business, which was the result of a competitive tendering process,” said Peter Mabson, CEO of exactEarth. “Small boats, particularly those involved in the fishing industry, have proven difficult for authorities to monitor and being able to continue this work with South Africa speaks to the growing adoption and viability of our small vessel tracking solution.”
The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme is a £150M multi-year program which uses space knowledge, expertise and capability to provide a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies. Grants are awarded to industrial and academic partners to run projects that address real-world problems in developing nations.
Ray Fielding, head of IPP at the UK Space Agency commented: “we are delighted to award funding for this project which will use satellite solutions to make a real difference to the safety of small vessels in South Africa.”