About Global Maritime Sensing
In his inspirational talk on Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) at the 2009 International Seapower Symposium (ISS) conference, ADM Thad Allen, Commandant of the US Coast Guard, commented that in order to have piracy,you need “a pirate and a pirateable” ship. ADM Allen discussed international standards for small boats to tackle this issue which in turn would address numerous MDA issues. Global Maritime Sensing (GMS) is sensing of maritime traffic including samll and dark vessels with the ability to gain situational regard for the positions and patterns for any size of vessel in all waters, be it internal waters, coastal areas or open ocean. Global Maritime Sensing is broad and deep, with overlays of data in order to establish visualization of presence that was not capable before today’s technology and also includes adaptation to emerging technologies as well. Assigning identities that associate with sea-based operations, a more rich and appropriate identity is associated with perhaps meteorological devices, established intelligence networks in place, satellite shots, weather balloons, sea states, etc. The data correlations are also prime consideration for stochastic resonance analysis, looking for signal in the noise of the traffic.
Global Maritime Sensing has two advantages. The first is the prevalence of tools and data collection already in place, in development, and in the future. At the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, interactive web guru Tim O’Reilly used an example of utilizing data collection already in place with a power company in the United Kingdom. The electricity telemetry is so sophisticated that not only can it perceive energy spikes within a single residence, it can detect make and model of outdated equipment. Appliance sales then uses that information to suggest energy efficient replacements – unintended consequences that work in favor of society. Searching, finding, analyzing, and applying these existing data tools already available is the first prong of realizing Global Maritime Sensing.
Another opportunity is the ubiquitous, morphing power of locative technology. Locative, or location, technology utilizes the plethora of Geographic Information Systems available in combination with mobile platforms such as smart phones. With smart phones having the capability not only of time and location, but also speed, acceleration and direction, a new “participatory sensing” has evolved. Wikitude is an application and website whereupon pointing a phone at a national monument, for example, the information about that monument is pulled from the Internet from sources such as Wikipedia as well as entries made by participants to the website. Another example could be a corn field in Nebraska, but only because someone put the picture and information about that cornfield into Wikitude. Because Wikipedia and this website and numerous like it pull information from participants to the website, the content is not limited by most relevant data nor political filters. The stream of location relevant nodes adds to a growing, always on, 365 data capture.
The basic start for Global Maritime Sensing is participatory sensing of any and all objects on the water. Encourage all mariners and a variety of maritime sources to take pictures of whatever they see whenever on the water. By and large, professional mariners and weekend recreational sailors alike have cameras and/or mobile phones and a means to capture location accurately. This includes recreational, commercial and navy ships. This puts eyes everywhere with data that can be anonymous or sponsored.
Since the majority of sea going vessels do not have ill intentions and the ones that do have ill intentions evade standard identification and policing practices as a matter of doing business, Global Maritime Sensing is a means to track vessels, movements, and patterns without adding bureaucracy, invading privacy or even disrupting current maritime activity. Born of the Internet, Global Maritime Sensing is ubiquitous and amorphous, self organizing and interpretive. The relative trust of the world at large for web platforms makes it easy to deploy and operate and finally lends itself to international participation without politics. Global Maritime Sensing is a logical, low cost initiative to implement ADM Allen’s call for action as well as facilitate the world desire for greater Maritime Domain Awareness.