Solutions

Using Artificial Intelligence to Track Illegal Activities at Sea

ImageSat International (ISI) has been investing heavily in its development of () analytics in hopes of capitalizing on the abundance of new satellite-based imagery. In an interview with Via Satellite , ISI Business Development and Product Manager Ori Zeisel detailed the technology that drives the company’s maritime domain awareness service, Kingfisher.

According to Zeisel, ISI developed Kingfisher to address the range of issues related to tracking maritime assets , including Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, foreign military activities at sea, and counter-terrorism and piracy. Specifically, the service works by shining a light on ships — known as non-cooperative vessels by NATO and other organizations — that would otherwise fly under the radar of maritime Automatic Identification System (AIS).

Keeping an eye on the ocean

Until a few years ago, AIS was the only way to keep track of goings-on in the middle of the ocean, Zeisel said. “The problem with this solution is that only the good guys are using AIS,” he explained. “If you want to do illegal fishing … or nautical trafficking or even military activity, you do not use AIS because you do not want the other side to understand what you’re doing. Basically, all the criminal and military activity is being kept in the dark.” Ori Zeisel, ISI business development and product manager. To add another layer of visibility for its customers, ISI has turned to commercial satellite imagery, using algorithmsAn algorithm is a fixed set of instructions for a computer. It can be very simple like "as long as the incoming number is smaller than 10, print "Hello World!". It can also be very complicated such as the algorithms behind self-driving cars. run by to analyze the data collected from its disparate sources. “We start with analyzing open-source intelligence and AIS. By doing this, we can focus on hotspots [where] there is higher probability for detection of illegal activity,” Zeisel said.

Getting the right satellites

Once ISI has an idea of where to look, the company tasks satellites from commercial providers to image the hotspot and downloads the data to be inspected by a combination of human analysts and automatic detection. Tasking commercial satellites can sometimes be a time-intensive process, Zeisel said, in which case ISI reorients its own Eros B satellite to provide the necessary data. […]

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