A recent lawsuit filed in the U.S. by the Electronic Privacy Information Center against the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security has sparked debate over the intrusiveness of AIS into personal privacy. The Nationwide Automatic Identification System used by the USCG and DHS collects, integrates and analyses information concerning vessels operation in waters subject to US jurisdiction. The complaints arise around the idea that AIS goes far beyond the collision avoidance mandate it was put in place for and instead collects personal information about boaters that is then shared between a variety of parties outside of just the Coast Guard.
Back in November 2014, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), adopted the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code), and related amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to make it mandatory, marking a major milestone in the Organization’s work to protect ships and people aboard them, both seafarers and passengers, in the harsh environment of the waters surrounding the two poles.
What are the Changes?
The debate around the idea of hacking into AIS has been circling for some time. There are now claims made by data providers in the industry trying to dispel the rumours around being able to easily spoof AIS messages.
There has been some publicity lately around the notion of being able to ‘hack AIS’. I think it’s critically important to understand a few technical points about AIS before spending the time discussing such an idea.
There has been some discussion to what makes a great Satellite AIS system so I wanted to throw in my opinion on the topic. AIS is designed for collision avoidance for ships, an undisputed fact. But once we start collecting AIS signals from space from all those thousands of ships, means we’ll have LOTS of slot overlap and signals competing with each other. The two methodologies for processing AIS signals are On-board processing (OBP) which can not separate AIS messages that collide in a slot and Spectrum Decollision Processing (SDP) which can. Research has shown that OBP just can not process the signals like SDP, especially in dense shipping areas with more than 1,000 ships in the vicinity. With SDP, Satellite AIS systems achieve better First Pass Detection rates, every time, maximizing the number of ships detected in every satellite pass.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently met to shape the Polar Code, a legally binding set of rules for shipping in Polar Regions. The target completion date for this Polar Code was initially 2012, but now has been moved to 2014/15 at the earliest. Although the final Polar Code won’t be adopted this year, recommendations made now will strongly influence the environmental provisions of the final Code.
exactEarth recently signed up to assist in a new vessel routing program run by the European Union. The MONALISA project aims at giving a concrete contribution to the efficient, safe and environmentally friendly maritime transport. The initial focus is on the major navigational areas in Swedish and Finnish waters in the Baltic Sea which will contribute to improving overall safety and optimization of ship routes.
I recently attended two symposiums (USEUCOM and C-Sigma - TEXAS V) where the subject of "Data Sharing" was discussed. As I looked around the room, it struck me that for different groups, the term “data sharing” conjures up very different feelings. From an Administration's perspective, Data Sharing means equal access between partners in order to further collaboration and advance the cause whether that cause is security, defense, ecological, meteorological, etc. But from the Data Provider’s perspective Data Sharing equals Bankruptcy!