Those of you who really, really need to know exactly where your shipments are at all times might want to check this out. IHS, a company that provides data for such industries as aerospace, defense, and energy and parent of the economic research firm Global Insight, can track oceangoing ships by satellite. The satellites ping ships every six minutes to determine their location and track their exact path.
"It's like Google Earth for ships," said IHS Global Insight economist Scot Sigman during his presentation on global trade trends at the fall conference of the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade. Sigman showed a screen shot of the Western Hemiäphere, with dozens of small yellow boxes representing ships, their paths up to that point depicted in one-day increments. He predicted that shippers would one day use the service to see in near-real time which ports are congested and whether or not ships are on schedule. Currently available only in the Western Hemiäphere, the satellite tracking service is expected to be up and running worldwide in about 12 months.