Welcome to our small corner of the air tracking world, the goal of this post is to bring together some of the information scattered around on our web page, which has organically grown over the past 10 years. Yes, we know it could look a bit more modern but we never came around to modernising it. Please also check out our Frequently Asked Questions for some more comprehensive information.
Who are we?
The OpenSky Network started in 2012 as a research project between armasuisse (Switzerland), University of Kaiserslautern (Germany), and University of Oxford (UK).The original paper describing the concept was published at IPSN 2014 -- it might feel a bit dated after such a long time!
In 2015, the independent OpenSky Network association was founded to guarantee the continuous development of the network towards a completely open air traffic control sensor network with worldwide coverage. We are a registered non-profit association registered in Switzerland (OpenSky Network e.V.). The stated mission of the OpenSky Network Association is to improve the security, reliability and efficiency of the air space usage by providing open access of real-world air traffic control data to the public. The members of the association are scientists, with a long-standing interest in aircraft tracking.
Who are we not?
As a non-profit association, we are not a commercial company, in particular not a Limited company. We do not have a fancy app (sadly!) or premium subscription models. We have not been focused specifically on the hobby of aircraft tracking (i.e., military etc.) and do not offer the best tools to do this (yet?) but the data is there, all the same.
What does OpenSky do and offer?
As stated above, we are interested in collecting, storing and distributing as much aircraft data as possible. We started with ADS-B only, added the entirety of Mode S, then FLARM. Recently, we have started an open beta for collecting and transcribing Voice data, supporting the EU Horizon 2020 project ATCO2. The data (we collected and stored Petabytes by now) is offered completely to any research institution for free using our Impala shell which enables fast queries across the whole dataset. Live data is available to anyone (within reason) using our REST API. We also offer a crowdsourced and downloadable aircraft database.
As of the beginning of 2023, we have over 5000 registered feeders. We encourage multifeeding several websites with our compatible dump1090 or Radarcape-based feeders, Flightaware, FlightRadar24, ADSB Exchange whatever you prefer. If you feed us data, too, you can be sure that you are part of one of the largest crowdsourced citizen science projects around and your data will form a small but integral part in hundreds of impactful scientific publications!
Since the beginning, OpenSky runs a yearly scientific workshop, which has grown into a large Symposium with peer-reviewed and competitive scientific proceedings on all things surrounding air traffic data. Videos of the presentations are freely available on our Youtube channel and the papers are naturally published as gold open access (read: free for you to read).
Sometimes we run special competitions with OpenSky data. For example, we have teamed up with the AICrowd data science platform to bring aircraft localization research to the next level. Check out all information at AI Crowd: Aircraft Localization Competition and the results and code release on Github.
Almost as a by-product, the data our users feed to OpenSky has contributed to a myriad of good causes, from crime and corruption fighting to economic analysis and improving noise abatement procedures. Check out our social impact page for users and examples.
What does OpenSky not do?
As of now, we do not do multilateration, sorry!
We do not block and filter aircraft as that would obviously be detrimental to the accuracy of the scientific data we support. It is difficult to analyse collision avoidance with missing aircraft.
What do our members do?
All sorts of things! We create curated datasets which help with scientific comparabiltiy and reproducibility. Our community also builds interfaces and libraries to help with the data science of processing and analysing so much data.
Since 2016, we publish a yearly OpenSky Report, focused on a different topic every year:
- OpenSky Report 2022: Evaluating Aviation Emissions Using Crowdsourced Open Flight Data.
- OpenSky Report 2021: Insights on ADS-B Mandate and Fleet Deployment in Times of Crisis.
- OpenSky Report 2020: Analysing In-flight Emergencies using Big Data.
- OpenSky Report 2019: Analysing TCAS in the Real World using Big Data.
- OpenSky Report 2018: Assessing the Integrity of Crowdsourced Mode S and ADS-B Data.
- OpenSky Report 2017: Mode S and ADS-B Usage of Military and other State Aircraft.
- OpenSky Report 2016: Facts and Figures on SSR Mode S and ADS-B Usage.
Of interest might also be recent publications on business aircraft tracking and astroturfing:
- Environmental Footprint of Private and Business Jets. (This one went viral on Reddit!)
- Evading the Public Eye: On Astroturfing in Open Aviation Data.
What do academic researchers do with OpenSky's data?
This is our niche! Ultimately, our service was built by scientists for scientists with their potential needs and requirements in mind. With over 360 publications that we know of, science covers every imagineable corner of air traffic data use.