Science China Technological Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 4, pp 677–686 | Cite as

Using big data to track marine oil transportation along the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road

  • Liang Cheng
  • ZhaoJin Yan
  • YiJia Xiao
  • YanMing Chen
  • FangLi ZhangEmail author
  • ManChun LiEmail author


China’s designation of the “21st-century Maritime Silk Road” (MSR) region is of extraordinary significance to its maritime rights, transportation security, and socio-economic development. We developed a technical framework allowing the use of “big data” derived from the Automatic Identification System (AIS, an automatic ship-tracking network) for two purposes: the accurate mapping of oil tanker trajectories and the creation of heat maps showing the relative use of oil tanker routes and marine shipping chokepoints. We then applied these methods to 1.5 billion AIS records collected within the MSR in 2014 to statistically identify and analyze busy routes, areas, and chokepoints in this strategic region. Our results demonstrate that the proposed framework can provide an effective analysis of oil movements based on large-scale AIS datasets, helping researchers and policy makers better understand the footprint and strategic implications of maritime oil transportation in the MSR region.


21st-century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) maritime oil transportation transportation chokepoints heat map automatic identification system (AIS) 


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Copyright information

© Science in China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science and TechnologyNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Collaborative Innovation Center for the South Sea StudiesNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.Collaborative Innovation Center of Novel Software Technology and IndustrializationNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  4. 4.School of Geography and Ocean ScienceNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  5. 5.Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and ApplicationNanjingChina

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