Case study

exactEarth Europe (Africa) Small vessel safety

Operational Take up of a Satellite Automatic Identification System (SAT-AIS) for small vessels in South Africa

Image of man using mobile in small fishing boat.

Man using Automatic Identification System in small fishing boat. Credit: exactEarth Europe Limited.

Project Title

South Africa Safety Initiative for Small vessels’ Operational Take-Up (OASIS-TU)

Target Countries

South Africa and Madagascar

Proposal Lead

exactEarth Europe Limited

Project Consortium / International Partners

South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) - South Africa, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) – South Africa, Marine Data Solutions (MDSol) - South Africa, Stone Three Venture Technology – South Africa, Le Centre de Fusion de l’Information Maritime (CFIM) – Madagascar

Project Summary

eEE have developed a satellite ‘Automatic Identification System’ (SAT-AIS) based technology to address the problem of practical tracking of small boats in developing countries - exactTrax - as demonstrated on eEE’s IPSP-funded OASIS project. This saw a successful trial of exactTrax in partnership with the ‘South African Maritime Safety Authority’. Small fishing, work and leisure boats account for the majority of South African maritime accidents and incur millions of pounds annual expenditure on ‘Search and Rescue’ (SaR) activities. Knowing the up-to-date location of a boat is vital to saving lives and reducing SaR costs by thousands a year.

SAMSA is now mandating the use of satellite-AIS tracking for small boats, but requires initial assistance in its operational roll-out. OASIS-TU will deploy, under a new marine regulation, an initial 1,500 em-trak I100 AIS Identifiers across the poorest / most at-risk small boat sector in South Africa – artisanal fishing boats <10 metres. Underlying operational data services will be established through the South African company, MDSol, to underpin the project and beyond as the mandate rolls-out. OASIS-TU will also partner with the South African ‘National Sea Rescue Institute’ (RNLI equivalent) to broaden the availability/use of tracking data by safety organisations.

Finally, to widen platform options downstream to the economic benefit of South Africa through exports, we will partner with another South African company, Stone Three, who will integrate exactTrax into their AIS product line and trial this with the Madagascan ‘Le Centre de Fusion de l’Information Maritime’.


Contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal 8.8: Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, in particular those in precarious employment. Specifically, the project should:

  • Save Lives – if a boat’s last location is known, or the Identifier’s SOS function is activated, authorities can better target where to search, and can rescue sailors more quickly.
  • Reduce Search and Rescue (SaR) Costs – if a boat’s last location is known or the Identifier’s SOS function is activated, authorities can better target where to search. Savings can then be spent elsewhere.
  • Grow South African Business – locally offer wider maritime information services & engagement of South African software and electronic developers in the development of new technologies.
Published 26 January 2017