When the Canadian Coast Guard asked Bill English if his company could investigate the application for some new technology to help improve safety, he took the opportunity to lay the foundation of an internationally renowned business.
That was back in the late 1990s, and since then English’s Xanatos Marine has brought its unique technological integrated solutions to ports and countries around the world.
Their Automatic Identification System (AIS) increases marine transportation safety by overlaying a chart with the exact location of large ships and how deep the water needs to be for them to operate in real-time. This allows them to avoid collisions and warm them before running aground.
“We can see all the ships at once that have this equipped in local waters,” said English. “You can see other ships around them too, and that enables us to see if they’re on a collision course way before they even get on one.”
This technology has been well received and implemented around the world, but English credits the help he gets from embassies and trade commissioners for a lot of his success.
“I have a sales background going back to the late 80s,” he says. “But the trade commissioners know what’s happening in their specific markets and can let me know how to interact with specific clients. It’s really helpful to know the local customs when making a business deal.”
This personal touch is part of the business, with seven employees in their main office in Vancouver, and 15 internationally. Xanatos currently has numerous projects in various stages of development, and some of those are at home in B.C.
“We’re hoping to get a few more systems in before the liquefied national gas (LNG) industry takes off,” says English. “We can effectively manage all the ships passing through our shipping lanes to ensure we keep B.C. waters safe.”
These projects are likely going to be done through three-way partnerships with the coast guard and local Aboriginal groups.
“The coastguard may be considering providing some First Nations groups with our technology to help with search and rescue,” said English. “Incidents like the whale-watching boat that over turned last summer could be mitigated by having much faster response times. It can take the coast guard a while to get to some of these places. First Nations groups are right there and can get out and help right away and make our waters safer for everyone.”