Using Tech to Fight Piracy on the Open Sea

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With maritime piracy seen on the rise once again, the shipping industry now looks to redouble its efforts to prevent these dangerous and costly attacks.

Though piracy had been on a steep decline since 2010 due to increased security efforts and precautions taken aboard ships, The State of Maritime Policy Report 2016 released last month by Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) finds that there has been decreased vigilance by the shipping community during the past few years, including hiring smaller private security teams and taking less security measures aboard ships.
Now halfway through 2017 there have already been two hijackings including a tanker and a commercial ship, as Somali pirates resumed attacks on ships and resorted to old tactics of ransoming crew for money.
This uptick in pirate activity brings with it an increased cost for shipping. The economic cost of piracy caused by groups out of Somalia has increased to $1.7 billion in 2016, up from $1.3 billion in 2015, according to the OBP report.
A solution to the rise in piracy is not just to increase the number of security personnel aboard ships, but to also outfit the ship with surveillance technology which will allow them to take the precautions necessary to avoid a conflict, said Electro Optical Industries, whose Spynel line of 360-degree panoramic view infrared thermal cameras are able to detect and track targets that could present a threat to a ship and its crew.
Electro Optical Industries said its Spynel products are currently deployed on ships and at ports around the world to combat against theft, piracy, terrorism and espionage.
The cameras act as optical radars but can pick up targets that radar could not detect, such as small wooden and rigid inflatable boats up to the horizon. The Spynel cameras can successfully operate at sea state level 5/6 thanks to an autonomous gyro-stabilized platform and in addition to mechanical stabilization, Spynels come with a sea-specific image processing stabilization algorithm.
An optional software module enables the display AIS (Automatic Identification System) data from boats in the thermal panoramic video. The automatic thermal detections and the AIS data can be fused to generate alarms only for instance objects without AIS transmitter, like a pirate (this requires an AIS receiver).
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