Space data to aid maritime security

Research news

13 October 2021

How can satellites and big data analytics support maritime security and surveillance to foster maritime safety? A joint project is set to answer this question.

Deakin University is teaming up with SmartSat Co-operative Research Centre, high-tech company Leonardo Australia and e-GEOS, a global distributor for satellite data, to discover answers to this question.

The organisations signed an agreement for the first phase of “Enhancing Earth Observation for Maritime Domain Awareness” (EO4MDA) on October 14.

Founded by SmartSat CRC, EO4MDA aims to support authorities across the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone and coastal areas, with data from ground, air and naval-based systems, integrated with space-based data reports.

In the frame of the agreement, the partners will develop and demonstrate first phase activities towards an Australian maritime domain awareness capability with satellite technologies, enhanced by artificial intelligence, aligned to national and civil security objectives.

With top expertise in the field of artificial intelligence, optimisation, and uncertainty quantification, Deakin’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) will test newly developed machine learning models to be integrated into the SEonSe platform to improve satellite-based data efficiency in the Australian environment and make predictions on anomalous behaviour at sea, therefore allowing the authorities to plan the best strategies.

Alfred Deakin Professor Saeid Nahavandi, Director of IISRI and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Defence Technologies) said his team is excited to work with experts from Leonardo and SmartSat CRC on the project, establishing sovereign capabilities in earth observation for Australia.

“Deakin researchers will develop state-of-the-art deep learning algorithms with uncertainty-aware capabilities for anomaly detection, utilizing data from satellites and other repositories,” Professor Nahavandi said.

Professor Nahavandi was named Australian Space Researcher of the Year at the 2021 Space Connect Australian Space Awards in June.

Drawing on many years of operational experience in providing maritime surveillance services to institutional users such as navies, coast guards, police corps and international agencies, as well as to private customers such as security and shipping companies, Leonardo and its subsidiary e-GEOS will contribute digital infrastructure and personnel to accelerate the research outcomes.

EO4MDA will use the e-GEOS platform “SEonSE”, which merges data from the Italian Space Agency and the Italian Ministry of Defence COSMO-SkyMed constellation – particularly useful to generate vessel detection reports ,thanks to its Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) technology – as well as data from other satellites and different sources. Leveraging the use of cloud computing and big data analytics, SEonSE provides real-time maritime situational awareness to detect illegal activities, support environment monitoring (i.e., oil leaks) and fight piracy.

SmartSat CEO Professor Andy Koronios said partners Deakin and Leonardo Australia will investigate applications of satellite-derived data to assist maritime decision-makers in a real-world demonstration.

“This project will deliver practical outcomes for our nation, enabling us in enhanced border protection, monitoring of our fisheries and aquaculture, as well as discharging our responsibilities in search and rescue and maritime safety. I am delighted with this impactful collaboration with our great partners Leonardo Australia and Deakin University,” Professor Koronios said.

“We are proud to collaborate with SmartSat CRC and Deakin University, offering our technologies and knowhow to support Australian-led R&D to drive world-leading Earth Observation remote sensing capabilities, drawing on expert knowledge from an industrial Group, Leonardo, a leader in the development and supply of integrated systems and technologies for maritime domain awareness, and on 25-years of experience in the Earth observation domain, with e-GEOS as an international leader,” said Giorgio Mantegazza, Leonardo Australia Managing Director.

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How can satellites and big data analytics support maritime security and surveillance to foster maritime safety? A joint project is set to answer this question.

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How can satellites and big data analytics support maritime security and surveillance to foster maritime safety? A joint project is set to answer this question.

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