White Paper for the US Navy Warfare Development Center
Global Maritime Sensing
Concept Submission for
Navy Warfare Development Command
7 January 2011
CDR Colette Grail
The prevalence of smart phones and devices with geo-tagging camera capability generates a world of opportunities for utilizing locative technology. The Global Maritime Sensing concept takes advantage of this technology in conjunction with participatory sensing for enhanced Maritime Domain Awareness.
Global Maritime Sensing (GMS) is digital data capture of maritime traffic via use of location technology and participatory sensing. Locative, or location, technology utilizes the plethora of geo-spatial tools available with mobile platforms such as smart phones. Whenever a picture is taken of an object or event, a smart device captures date, time and location as well as visual image. Smart phones now have the capability also for speed, acceleration and direction. A new “participatory sensing” is possible.
Participatory sensing is likened to “citizen science.” Citizen science recruits any and all participants, regardless of expertise, to record observations toward a project. GMS employs all mariners to be “citizen scientists” and to take photos for geo-tagging. Geo-tagging is taking photos, in the case of GMS – of maritime operations, and uploading them the web for placement on a map. . The GMS map accumulates these data points to create a live, interactive chartroom. The GMS library is then evaluated for trends and the maps are overlaid with intelligence.
Better Maritime Domain Awareness arises from this collection of data points and the ability to gather more data points than possible with traditional intelligence gathering. The data base is manipulated for analysis such complexity study for scenario potential of emergent phenomena.
3. Military Problem
In his inspirational talk on Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) at the International Seapower Symposium (ISS) 2009 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 and registration for small boats as a means to tackle this issue which in turn would address numerous MDA issues, including piracy, human and drug trafficking, and terrorism.
ADM Allen reviewed how small boats have been utilized in events ranging from pirating to terrorist attacks such as the USS Cole and the Mumbai bombings. ADM Allen argued this vulnerability should be addressed because of the serious implications small boats have had in the past and that the same is possible to recur – the next time in US waters. He proposed that small boats needed more regulation. Although he did not see a practical means to put that in place nor police it, he challenged the audience to help provide a solution.
Global Maritime Sensing is a logical, low cost initiative to implement ADM Allen’s call for action as well as facilitate the world peace desire for greater Maritime Domain Awareness. Global Maritime Sensing is a rapid-deployable, off-the-shelf solution to take action now for greater Maritime Domain Awareness.
4. Central Idea
Global Maritime Sensing is sensing of maritime traffic, 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.
The basic start for Global Maritime Sensing is participatory sensing of any and all objects on the water by encouraging all mariners to take pictures of whatever they see whenever at sea. 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 capability that can be anonymous or sponsored.
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 with less demand of political involvement.
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 2010 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.
The second lever is the ubiquitous, morphing power of locative technology. Locative, or location, technology utilizes the plethora of geo-spatial technologies 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.
Bringing in the focus more, Flickr, the photo sharing and showing website, has a geo-tagging program that has been in motion for a little over two years. With nearly 100 million photos, geo-tagging is now enhanced by an app called clustr, which takes data points, the photos, and assigns them a 6 level identity called a Where On Earth ID, (WOEID). Clustr takes these data points and displays shape files. There are examples for continents, countries, states, and cities.
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, the random, citizen scientist tool goes beyond traditional methodologies to capture those activities under the radar. GMS thus provides additional intelligence gathering without disproportional operational and manpower resources. GMS also does not exhaust extended research and development and testing costs because the intent of the concept is to use technologies already in place for other websites and applications.
5. Supporting Ideas
Whatsinvasive.com – Citizen Science for Parks
Whatsinvasive.com is the original inspiration for the GMS model. This website collects citizen science observations of habitat-destroying plants in various national and state parks. The parks broadcast particular species of interest and top invasive species. The site provides campaign statistics for various initiatives as well as individual statistics relevant for the participant. The website even suggests routes or trails that participants could use where additional data collection is desired.
What’s Invasive is hosted by UCLA’s Center for Sensing (CENS). The coding to create and maintain the website is open source and available for immediate deployment.
Mobile Technology for Global Information
Locative, or location, technology utilizes the plethora of geo-spatial technologies available in combination with mobile platforms such as smart phones. Smart phones have the capability not only of capturing time and location, but also speed, acceleration and direction. From these tools 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.
WIKITUDE World Browser presents the user with data about their surroundings, nearby landmarks, and other points of interest by overlaying information on the real-time camera view of a smart-phone. (www.wikitude.org)
Another example could be a corn field in Nebraska, but only because someone put the picture and information about that cornfield into Wikitude. That is why mariners can capture information about everywhere at any time and provide information toward a “bigger” maritime domain awareness picture. 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.
Mobile Photo Capture Paints a Bigger Picture with Clustr
Flickr, the photo sharing and showing website, has a geo-tagging program that has been in motion for a little over two years. With nearly 100 million photos, geo-tagging is now enhanced by an app called clustr, which takes data points, the photos, and assigns them a 6 level identity called a Where On Earth ID, (WOEID). These were created to facilitate Flickr, and the project’s leader, Aaron Cope, is excited to see what other identities and descriptions can be utilized using the program in new directions. Clustr takes these data points and displays shape files. There are examples for continents, countries, states, and cities.
Casting the net with clustr, a variety of data constructs are assembled and tested while the data points collect globally. Global Maritime Sensing would assign identities that associate with sea-based operations, adding a more rich and appropriate identity associated with meteorological devices, established intelligence networks in place, satellite shots, weather balloons, sea states, etc.
Citizen Science – a old solution revisited
Citizen science is the term for other-than “professional” scientists or experts participating in the science process in order to facilitate projects that are often beyond the physical or fiscal capability of the proposed science concept. These projects most often recruit volunteers to do field work in mass numbers that create raw data often for huge projects. Not a new idea in that in 1900 the National Audubon Society started just such an effort with the Christmas Bird Count (http://www.audubon.org/Bird/cbc/) to document the bird population census in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the perfect example where such a daunting task as documenting as many birds as possible in the world takes considerable manpower unless delegated out to as many people as possible.
The University of Illinois at Chicago started something along the same lines in 1997 (http://projects- squirrel.org/index.shtml) to document squirrels and the list goes on citizen science (http://citizensci.com/) & others (http://projectsquirrel.org/index.shtml).
Even NASA calls upon the amateur astronomers of the world to search for specific oncoming asteroid events. Since 1997, the word about these events is put out via a 800+ email gaggle called the Minor Planet Mailing List run by an amateur Richard Kowalski (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Kowalski) who has since gone on to become a noted astronomer, discovering the first asteroid prior to its impact on Earth.
The citizen scientist is one concept behind Global Maritime Sensing – to promote “citizen science” in the focus of Maritime Domain Awareness.
US Land Data Captured via Nat’l Spatial Data Infrastructure
3 05 2010
In the United States the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) was created to aggregate the multiple resources already at work capturing geospatial information. This effort includes data share with government, corporate, and academics. The governing body, the Federal Geographic Data Committee recognizes the plethora of sources available from which to create more robust maps of information and seeks to leverage the possibilities through the NSDI.
Global Maritime Sensing intends to this same premise with a larger scope – the world’s water area – and to include as many nations as possible to provide the same depth of coverage throughout the world. The intent is very pointed for GMS – greater Maritime Domain Awareness – and thus greater prospects for safe and peaceful sea operations.
Other ship watching sites:
Department of Homeland Security Maritime Defense initiatives:
http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/editorial_0608.shtm (hasn’t been modified since 2008)
Department of Homeland Security
Global Maritime Intelligence Integration Plan
Texas A&M University’s Integrative Center for Homeland Security
6. Potential Stakeholders
US DOD Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCCs)
US DHS Maritime Domain Awareness
US NAVY Navy Combatant Commanders (NCCs),
Chief of Naval Installations Command (CNIC),
Military Sealift Command (MSC),
Special Operations Command (SPECOPS),
Coalition Strategic partnerships
Indian/Pacific partnership ico human trafficking and fisheries
African coalition for pirating