The developers of an online service that allows users of the Cowes floating bridge to find out when the next service is due have claimed the Isle of Wight council have turned off live shipping data to “deliberately to stop floatyfinder”.
FloatyFinder: “Switched it off deliberately”
The people behind Floaty Finder claim,
“We have had a reply from the manager of the floating bridge. This time it’s not broken, they switched it off deliberately to stop floatyfinder”
Importance of AIS data
Floaty Finder is possible because the new Floating Bridge transmits its current positions using AIS. AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) is a globally-recognised safety feature for ships that broadcasts the position of the craft – it’s what let Andy Stanford-Clark create the Tweeting Red Funnel ferries back in 2009.
OnTheWight has checked the available AIS sources and there are no updates from today. The last record of an AIS broadcast from the Floating Bridge that we can find is 19:36 last night (Tuesday).
No AIS data means no ability for FloatyFinder to inform the public. Turning the Floating Bridge’s AIS off is like turning the light off, plunging all FF users into darkness.
Questions to the council
We’ve put the following questions to the council. They’ve acknowledged them and we’re still awaiting answers.
- Is it true the AIS transmitter on the Floating Bridge has been turned off? (I can’t find the data after 19:37 last night)
- If so, please send over a detailed explanation as to why
- When will it be turned back on again?
Response from IWC
Update: IWC have acknowledged the questions swiftly, but took ~five hours to provide the following response:
A council spokesperson said: “Further discussions are taking place in regard to the use of the tracker on the floating bridge.
“We can confirm it was inadvertently switched off, rather than deliberately.
“We have contacted the Floaty Finder website to discuss the matter in private.”
Update 10:47 : IWC switched the Floating Bridge AIS back on last night. This morning Floaty Finder became available to the public again.
Caricature “caused offence”
At present it’s unclear whether there is any connection to this, but on their Facebook page, the FloatyFinder creators say the Isle of Wight council have advised the team their “caricature of Erik” – a well-known member of the floating bridge staff who features on the service – “has caused offence”.
“That is the *last* thing we’d ever want. If there’s a problem then we obviously want to make it right.”
OnTheWight followed up with IWC asking for denials on the claimed quotes from the Floaty’s manager and ‘offence’ claims.
Image: © Floaty Finder