Maritime domain awareness (MDA) and how companies and authorities can use it to optimize their maritime security was a HOT topic at the 10th Maritime Security West event held in August in San Francisco. Some organizations seemed satisfied with their current capabilities, while other people expressed frustration with the “dots on the maritime map.”
MDA Can Be More…Much More
A vessel’s AIS is transmitting. That’s all we need for detection, right? Not always…
Just because a vessel is transmitting doesn’t mean it’s engaged in legitimate activities, or it’s located where you think it is. Deceptive shipping practices (DSPs), plus the emergence of the “gray fleet” since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have increased and become more sophisticated.
Tracking maps can be inaccurate, because some ships that appear to be law-abiding and do not appear on any sanctions lists (yet) are not really as they seem. Some are using techniques, such as location (GNSS) tampering, to obscure their origins, current location, and destination, which helps them evade detection while engaged in illicit activities.
MDA and putting dots on a map are not sufficient because some of those dots represent ships that are NOT where they purport to be and some that are not WHO they purport to be! Not all vessels that transmit are legitimate – many of today’s more sophisticated bad actors prefer to “hide in plain sight.”
The insights from Windward’s Maritime AI™ platform back this up. Dark activities are declining, while other DSPs are on the rise.
Organizations must be able to effectively and quickly track these vessels using AI, and be aware of new and changing DSPs to function effectively, without endangering their businesses.
Another major problem facing maritime organizations that need to detect, identify, and monitor vessels, is the huge amounts of data involved. To give just one example, smuggling detection requires understanding the regular vessel patterns of thousands of ships and their past behavioral history, current sanctions restrictions and evasion typologies, deceptive shipping practices, etc. And this is just a single type of illicit activity. It is no longer possible for manual tracking to be accurate and comprehensive.
What about the False Negatives?
False positives (when a vessel is wrongly suspected of engaging in deceptive shipping practices when it isn’t) are known to be harmful to business productivity, strategic planning, and sensitive operations. False negatives (thinking a vessel engaged in illegal activity is clean), meanwhile, are often missed, even though they can result in crippling fines and the overlooking of potential national threats and global risk developments. Windward’s Maritime AI™ platform found a 12% increase in location (GNSS) manipulation during the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in the previous year, as well as an 82% increase compared to H1 2021. This jump has the potential to create a whole bunch of false negatives for unsuspecting organizations still relying on the dots…
Operational Readiness Requires the Right Platform
The maritime ecosystem changes quickly, due to shifting geopolitical events and new sanctions, and maintaining MDA operational readiness and strategic decision-making capabilities requires the right technology platform. Without an AI-powered solution, it is impossible to analyze hundreds of millions of data points to quickly arrive at an accurate risk prediction, and act upon it to mitigate risk exposure. Maritime AI™ protects businesses from false negatives, which can result in jeopardizing national security, by effectively analyzing the data and understanding patterns.
Windward, the leading Maritime AI™ company, understands today’s obstacles and the solutions to overcoming them. Without AI-based predictions based on models that are constantly refined by maritime experts, standard MDA solutions cannot deliver actionable insights that will make your organization far more capable of complying with regulations, while staying profitable.