India has set itself a new challenge to develop locally-made software that manages shipping – of actual ships, not code - as a way to enhance its regional influence.
The software in question is called “Vessel Traffic Services” (VTS) and “Vessel Traffic Management Systems” (VTMS). VTS is maritime traffic monitoring software broadly comparable to air traffic control systems. VTMS complements VTS by integrating with port management systems and other applications that improve efficiency of navigation.
Why would India bother with a national drive to float worthy-but-esoteric apps?
For starters, the nation currently lacks a standard for such software. As the Indian government’s announcement of its intentions states, the nation currently has 15 or more VTS systems running at different ports.
A single national system will improve interoperability. The government is also keen to reduce reliance on offshore vendors and to stop sending hard-earned rupees to other nations.
The government has also shown its hand by stating: “VTS Software can be provided to Indian trade friendly nations viz. Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Gulf countries.”
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Which sounds an awful lot like an ambition to have those in India’s sphere adopt its software and, presumably, pay for it. The statement also says a national VTS will “make Indian companies to be competitive commercially in global bids.”
Regional influence, export revenue, and domestic standardisation are all pretty decent reasons for a national development push.
India’s given one of its top tech universities – IIT Chennai – $1.36m to develop the software and ten months to deliver a working prototype. ®
Bootnote: It's not The Register's place to make architectural recommendations, but we'll make an exception in this case and suggest that surely this software must be developed using Docker and containers.