What Does Five Billion Look Like?

Every day we download more than 20 million data points, giving us the positions of the about two hundred thousand vessels in the world. To see where these vessels traveled in 2015, I plotted their positions to create the map you see above. This map shows all vessels carrying AIS, and not just fishing vessels, and is created from about five billion data points. Click on the image to enlarge.

You can see the shipping lanes criss cross the globe, and how the coasts of Europe and China are bright red with vessels. You can also see where to go if you don’t want to see anyone: relatively few vessels venture into the southern ocean. Most of the ocean, though, is not empty — it has at least some traffic throughout the year.