Ship Tracking with MapServer for Fun and Profit
Presentation | Presented
- Hal Mueller, Mobile Geographics
Sailwx.info began as an experiment to visualize, for the layperson, the mass of shipboard weather reports collected each day by the World Meteorological Organization. The website uses PHP and MySQL to collect and process the reports, and uses MapServer and PHP MapScript to render custom maps for each site user's queries. Over the last 3 years, the site has grown into a commercially successful product, and continues to evolve as new ship tracking technologies become available.
The technical challenges of managing the inbound datastream, the vessel history database, and the map requests are interesting enough on their own. But building a self-supporting business model was more difficult than you might expect. And as sailwx.info has became more popular, a dual constituency has emerged: some users are applying the site and supporting database to very novel problems, while some other users and data contributors have been less than pleased by the site's broad appeal and ease of use. MapServer has turned an obscure scientific dataset into something anyone can work with.