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Oct 31, 2015

Using low Earth orbit to combat piracy on the high seas

The maritime shipping industry is experiencing an increase in piracy; the number of cargo ships hijacked continues to rise in 2015 with 134 incidents already reported from January to June. A recent report from the ICC provides additional backing to the necessity of a global response to the piracy threat. 


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Chart: ICC-IMB Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships Report - 01 January - 30 June 2015


On September 15, 2015 the Commercial Crime Services division of the ICC called for a global reporting mechanism to improve the current situation and effectively reduce maritime piracy. More specifically the CCS reported that there is a crucial necessity for an “information sharing framework to expedite the receipt and distribution of critical details”. Such a system would empower international security forces and agencies with the ability to provide a higher level of safety to cargo ships as well as increasing the apprehension rate of maritime criminals.

In such a framework, a constellation of cubesats offers a powerful solution that can assist Maritime Law Enforcement and Security Agencies. The satellite network will provide real time trade security that could eliminate vulnerable gaps that currently exist with conventional satellite and radar tracking systems. Spire’s cubesat network will offer a robust, cost effective approach to big data sharing and shipping piracy protection. The responsive approach of real time maritime data will help trade security firms understand and assess situations immediately. In turn this will help law enforcement respond to maritime piracy threats.

Piracy causes ripples throughout the maritime industry. A recent Interpol report stated that a “... single piracy case will often affect several different nations. Vessels may be flagged, owned and operated by different countries and manned by multinational crews. The pirates, the navy which captures them and the nation willing to investigate and prosecute the case are also likely to be diverse. This makes it crucial to share information between military, law enforcement and judicial bodies in multiple countries.”

Spire Global will soon have the largest network of cubesats in the world, offering powerful solutions in the areas of Maritime Intelligence and big data weather monitoring systems. While fighting piracy is just one application for an advanced maritime dataset, it remains one of the most important.

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