Automated identification system
The seaway developed its first traffic control system in the mid-1960s to deal with the congestion and long lineups of ships at the Welland Canal. It was rudimentary, but relatively effective. The Seaway installed closed circuit television cameras at each lock, which supplied images to a dedicated traffic control centre that included a nine-metre-long scale model of the canal, complete with wooden ships. Traffic controllers used sticks to move the models as real ships made their way through the system.
Today the Canadian and American seaway corporations rely on Automated Identification System (AIS), which is the best available technology, and they were the first inland waterway in the world to adopt it. They began testing the equipment in 2000 and worked on it for three years before it was fully implemented at the start of the 2003 season. Ships using the seaway now must be equipped with onboard transponders, which relay their locations via global positioning satellites to traffic control centres located in Saint-Lambert and St. Catharines on the Canadian side and located at the Eisenhower Lock on the U.S. side. A ship’s position appears on computer screens at the traffic control centres. The system also enables captains or their mates to watch their own progress and the movement of other nearby vessels on a computer screen installed in the wheelhouse of a ship. AIS also supply them with estimated arrival times at each lock as well as accurate information about wind speed and direction, water depth and ice conditions.
This interactive map highlights specific areas throughout the Seaway that have their own lock system. Users can click on a specific area and view a video that details the history and operation of the selected lock system.