AIS VESSEL TRACKING SOFTWARE AND MARITIME INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Astra Paging Ltd. was established in 1997 in the town of Sliven, Bulgaria, as a private limited liability company, specialized in the provision of telecommunications services. The early business of Astra Paging Ltd was focused on the development of a regional paging service in its home town.
In 1998, the company developed the “E-LogIn video editing suite” product – a joint venture with CadKP Inc. (New York, USA). The product was shipped in hundreds of copies just a few months after its official release.
Astra Paging Ltd. entered the maritime business in 2004, by participating in the first phase of the implementation of the Bulgarian VTMIS (Vessel Traffic Management and Information Service) system. As a closed network, the VTMIS AIS subsystem only provided real time vessel traffic data to the Varna and Bourgas VTS centers, thus depriving many state agencies and private companies of the opportunity to use the collected information.
In mid-2005, Astra Paging Ltd. started addressing the needs of the private maritime companies and devoted its resources to the development of a commercial ship AIS tracking system, known as VT Explorer. The core set of components of the system included a network of AIS receivers, a central AIS database server and an end-user application for vessel traffic visualization. The initial stage of the AIS network project was completed in the beginning of 2006, when several AIS receivers were located along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The VT Explorer network was officially presented to the maritime community on 1st June, 2006. Only two years later, the AIS network expanded to more than 50 receivers, installed in different locations around Europe. Today, VT Explorer is very well accepted by hundreds of companies in Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and Cyprus.
Several months after its official release, VT Explorer was integrated into the National VTMIS system and adapted to meet the information needs of the Maritime Administration. After successfully participating in two international naval exercises, Astra Paging Ltd. provided both the Bulgarian Navy and the Border Police with customized versions of the VT Explorer software.
In 2006, Astra Paging Ltd. was nominated by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) to implement the “Vessel Traffic Oil Pollution Information System” pilot project. The project was funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF/UNDP) and included six separate subsystems for processing of the information, vital for the protection of the Black Sea environment and coastal resources against oil pollution caused by ships. The project was successfully completed in November 2007.
At the end of 2006, the Astra Paging “VT Explorer AIS server” was selected by the Bulgarian Maritime Administration and applied as a National AIS server. After the successful completion of the project in 2007, Bulgaria was nominated to participate in the test phase of the Mediterranean AIS Network, based in Italy. Today, the National AIS server is the core of the real time ship traffic data exchange between VTMIS and many state authorities, including the Bulgarian Navy and the Border Police.
In the beginning of 2007 Astra Paging Ltd. developed the “Data processing, planning and analysis of vessel traffic in the Bulgarian VTS zones” information system, also known as “VTS database”. The system provides centralization and sharing of the information, which is manually managed by VTS operators based in Varna and Bourgas. Today, the system is a key module of VTMIS, providing important reports and analyses for the Maritime Administration, Bulgarian Ports Infrastructure Company, Customs and many other state authorities.
That same year, Astra Paging Ltd. became a subcontractor of Sofrelog S.A. (France) for the development of VTMIS – Phase 2. The company developed a VTMIS Network Monitoring System and provided the geographic data for the SYTAR electronic charts. During the 12-month (November 2007 – November 2008) warranty period our team provided full software and on-site support.