Seas have long been invaluable resources for EU countries. But those same seas can be conduits for piracy, drug trafficking and irregular migration. A group of security specialists has launched an EU-funded project to better integrate sources of maritime intelligence. The result will be safer seas for all who sail them.
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Seas hold revered places in the imaginations of those who live near them. But they can be treacherous. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 3 100 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in 2017. Smugglers of arms, drugs and people also use the open expanses of the seas to conceal their activities, while pirates threaten commercial shipping.
To make the seas safer while better policing EU borders, a group of maritime security practitioners has launched the EU-funded MARISA project. Its goal is to provide specialists with a toolkit that will help them to detect and distinguish between criminality and developing emergencies such as stranded migrants.
EU countries, agencies and partners have a wide variety of maritime surveillance systems that help to detect both illegal activity and migrants stranded at sea. Those systems are fragmented, however. EU navies, for example, often use incompatible surveillance systems, and even within countries, separate agencies such as customs and coastguard authorities can have trouble sharing information. Existing systems simply cannot adequately process, integrate and interpret the huge amounts of raw data that todays sensors provide.
The MARISA toolkit brings together information from big data sources, analyses it for patterns and important signals, and makes it all comprehensible for security specialists in the field or on the water. The result will help practitioners identify connections between events and predict new crises before they happen. MARISA will even interpret information from social media networks and the internet, taking data and fusing it into better situational awareness.
The projects data fusion toolkit will be tested in trials that cross a variety of contexts and domain applications. Five practitioners are full partners, allowing them to shape the projects outcomes during its development.