Multi-source investigation tools

Multi-Source Investigative Tools

What are Multi-Source Investigative Tools?

There is no shortage of crimes that take place at sea. Smuggling, illegal fishing, and human trafficking are just some of the illicit activities.

Some criminal activities, such as dark activity that occurs when ships disable their AIS, are relatively easy to detect. Other activities, such as location (GNSS) manipulation, are more complex and often require a multi-source approach for detection. 

Multi-Source Investigative Tools and Maritime AI™

Multi-source investigations built on a foundation of Maritime AI™ technology leverage optical imagery and SAR imagery on-demand. 

As explained in a Windward case study, a platform-centric, vendor-agnostic approach empowers users to easily integrate any positional data, SAR, or optical images; enhance coverage by using predictive insights and vessel behavior data; and identify illicit actors going beyond AIS disablement to conceal their activities. We’re talking about a single platform that can:

  • Automatically flag location (GNSS) manipulation (patent-pending model)
  • Perform dark vessel detection
  • Overlay imagery on a map with a vessel positions and activities layer

The Need for Multi-Source Investigation Tools 

The maritime industry sits within a complex ecosystem, comprised of thousands of ships, millions of containers, and constantly changing jurisdictions. In addition to the billions of dollars worth of legal activity, it is rife with drug trafficking, smuggling, and a wide range of deceptive shipping practices. 

Legacy maritime surveillance methods, such as radar and legacy vessel tracking systems, are insufficient to quickly and automatically detect these crimes. There is far too much data for them to process quickly and put the pieces together in time to act. 

For example, detecting smuggling requires knowledge of a ship’s regular route and behavioral history, as well as sanction restrictions and deceptive shipping practices engagement. Legacy tools are simply unable to capture and process all the different variables and data points available. 

What are the Multi-Source Investigation Tools Windward Uses?

  • Adding Maritime AI™ and predictive analytics to remote sensing tipping and cueing: 
    • This foundation transforms operations and decision-making 
    • Predictive analytics enrich the process by applying advanced, patent-pending algorithms to analyze behavioral trends and forecast future events
  • Daily optical imagery on-demand:
    • Greater coverage with 3m per pixel – high resolution with daily re-visits
    • Additional context for investigating moving objects
    • Investigate past events with an image library dating back to 2016
  • On-demand SAR:
    • Total confidentiality, with independent, remote tasking not directly connected to tasking unit
    • A resolution range, according to your needs
    • Standard tasking time of 24 hours prior to tasking window
    • Full night-time and cloudy area coverage

Tipping and Cueing

Tipping and Cueing is considered by many to be the gold standard for maritime investigation operations. Tipping refers to potential issues that are identified in low resolution. This “base data” comes from low-resolution, lower-cost images from satellites. Information from tipping may be used to detect suspicious activities. 

Cueing is the use of higher-cost, higher-resolution satellite imagery for deeper investigation/verification. These images can provide valuable insights into the physical conditions of an operational environment, picking up details that might include oil transfers or other crimes. 

When tipping and cueing imagery is combined with data points from the journey, it provides investigators with the information they need to fully understand the sequence of events that took place involving a ship. 

Multi-Source Investigation Case Study 

A leading intelligence unit leveraged Maritime AI™, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical imagery in one platform to gain a strategic advantage, and accurately tip and cue.

To efficiently complete their operational picture, the unit first planned and defined the goal of tasking: obtain evidence of foreign military presence in the Philippines exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

With their defined mission in mind, they leveraged Windward’s Maritime AI™ and behavioral analysis to identify the location with the highest probability of tasking success. This was done with a simple query of military vessels engaged in slow speed operations (an indication for maritime patrol) in the Philippines EEZ.

With the search results and the identified polygon for the tasking, the unit was still missing the tasking trigger (timing, behavioral). Within the defined polygon, the unit investigated the operations of non-commercial vessels to discover the following sequence and timeline:

  • Departure from China coast guard dock
  • 2 days later – the vessels arrive at the area of patrol in the Philippines EEZ
  • 1 day later – the replaced vessel departs from the area of patrol

By creating a custom polygon around the identified docks of interest, the unit customized alerts on triggers for tasking assets of importance, so as not to miss a valuable opportunity.

With the identified location, trigger, and timing in hand, the unit tasked SAR imagery, proving the sequence they discovered in the data. But without vessel details and context, it’s difficult to make sense of the image, or use it in their investigation.

To leverage the SAR imagery further, the unit seamlessly integrated it into the Windward platform. Following this overlay with Windward AI’s fused identity layers, the actionable insights were highlighted to help drive the investigation deeper.

Windward’s agnostic, multi-source AI platform also provides an additional optical imagery sensor source (Planet Labs), which corroborated the vessels’ location, and added context for the investigated operation.

A Multi-Source Platform For Enhanced Operational Visibility 

For years, Windward has been keeping its customers covered by automatically flagging and alerting them on deceptive shipping practices. Organizations can enhance this innovative AI foundation with satellite images and positional validation integration to go beyond dots on the map and predict where to focus sensors and task forces, bringing tremendous efficiency and value.

A vendor-agnostic platform like Windward enables increased accuracy and smarter strategic planning. It allows organizations to easily: 

  • Detect non-transmitting vessels and dark activities
  • Investigate operations and track areas over time, to assess changes to coastlines, ports, and open waters
  • Overlay satellite imagery on a map with vessel positions and an activities layer
  • Receive actionable recommendations to enable true tipping and cueing