Introducing satellite control for waterborne public transport services

Basic Information

Mobility solution ID

12.5 V





The measure focused on integrating the municipal police control centre with the public transport operations centre in order to optimise boat traffic in the Venice Lagoon.

Implementing sustainable mobility

As a result of its high volumes of boat traffic, Venice faces the challenges of noise, pollution and congestion, but also has to tackle the problem of wake pollution. With the increased boat mass and speed that has resulted from the use of large diesel engines, wave motion has become one of the major causes of damage to the basement structures of historical buildings in Venice since the early 1960s. Measures such as speed limits and strict traffic regulations have proved only partly effective due to lack of continuous traffic monitoring systems.

The Venice public transport company ACTV provides transport services on both the mainland and the canals. Its fleet comprises 152 boats, using approximately 100 pontoon boarding points. In the 1990s, the public waterbus fleet was equipped with global positioning system (GPS) satellite receivers and a first speed and trajectory monitoring system was put in place. Since then, ACTV has done much to renew its fleet. Between 2004 and 2005, the Waterborne Mobility Office of the city of Venice established a modern wide-range general fleet control system called SALOMON, the main feature of which was the ability of the onboard equipment to define boat position extremely accurately while containing a complete map of the city waterways with their related speed limits. The SALOMON system proved to be very effective and precise but concerned only the vessels equipped with general packet radio service (GPRS). In order to improve waterborne traffic control and wake reduction regulations, as well as to enable the location of all vessels for monitoring and communication between waterbuses and control centre and to provide real-time information to the public, the municipal police and ACTV needed to set up a joint centre to obtain information about the general water traffic situation and to provide comprehensive data for simulations and consequent traffic control regulations.


The city of Venice and ACTV technicians met on several occasions before purchasing the hardware for the joint centre in order to assess the data transfer protocol between the waterborne public transport system and the satellite control system.

In 2006, ACTV established the connection to the control centre and tested six onboard GPS and GPRS systems. Appropriate software was provided and the hardware adapted for integrating the ACTV system with the system of the municipal police, even for older waterbuses. It was completed and tested in October 2007, after which waterbuses could be tracked at both the ACTV and the municipal police’s operational centres. All personnel were trained to use the system. In March 2008, ACTV produced a manual for system maintenance.


The GPS-GPRS system was installed in all new waterbuses, and older systems were also replaced.  The integration of the waterborne public transport GPRS system for the 140 Venice waterbuses with the municipal police centre increases the range of application and facilitates close cooperation between local stakeholders in lagoon traffic. According to ACTV and the municipal police, all ACTV waterbuses circulating on the Venice canals are visible via the joint municipal police control system. Each ACTV officer is able to ascertain the real-time location of all ACTV vessels operating in the network. The system is able to automatically compare the planned service with the current boat position and inform the officer of any delay. The officer may then decide, according to the data received, to provide additional boats to guarantee a better service and to keep to the schedule. The system allows the dynamic management of the public boat fleet and improves the management of both daily activities and traffic emergencies.


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