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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Using the Web Against Pirates

The Navy Times reports:

Pirates may run, but they won’t be able to hide from a new Web-based application that can track their movements on a global scale.
Development is underway on a computer program that will help sailors detect pirate ships, illegal fishing vessels, drug smugglers, arms traffickers and other bad guys in the ocean, Navy officials announced May 14. It could be used anywhere there is an Internet connection.
The application will combine automated vessel detection with behavioral analysis, said John Stastny, an engineer with the International Collaborative Development for Enhanced Maritime Domain Awareness, or ICODE MDA, who is helping to design it.
Doing this will allow sailors to identify and avoid ships engaging in suspicious at-sea maneuvers, which could signal the presence of pirates.
So, what exactly constitutes pirate behavior? That’s yet to come.
Stastny said the goal is to look at data to determine what kind of behavior is typical for a regular ship versus a pirate ship.
“That can help us develop models for what pirates are likely to do,” he explained.
The program will operate like iGoogle, an online dashboard that accommodates a user’s preferences and displays personalized data for local weather, email and news. But for this dashboard, the menu will focus on locating pirates.
“You’re going to have a base map that will show anomalies that are related to the piracy problem and a widget that shows which are high-risk vessels or high-risk areas for piracy today,” Stastny said.