The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has developed a new anti-piracy software system that is currently being tested in two maritime operational centres in Kenya and the Seychelles.
Known as the Piracy, Maritime Awareness and Risks (PMAR) system, it has been developed on the back of a three-year study carried out by JRC researchers into technologies intended to build up maritime awareness for authorities in regions affected by piracy.
The JRC says that the software provides a live picture of ship traffic activity, indicating current ship positions on a digital map, by combining data from a number of different vessel reporting and earth observation systems.
In this way the software can create a single maritime picture of the entire western Indian Ocean, JRC says, offering a region-wide picture that can complement the smaller scale coastal displays used by individual countries.
The system can also be used to create maps using historical data, such as past piracy events or historic ship traffic density.
The PMAR study was originally initiated by the European Parliament, and after the first phase was the subject of a request from piracy-affected states that it be continued.
JRC says that this one year trial in Kenya and the Seychelles should help to improve maritime surveillance capabilities in this area, taking into account existing infrastructures, while helping to identify the specific needs of affected countries.
The trial implementation of the PMAR system is financed through the 10th European Development Fund under the EU’s programme to promote regional maritime security (MASE) in eastern and southern Africa.
It is managed by the Indian Ocean Commission, an international cooperation between the five island states Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros and R√©union.
The project is also aligned with the IMO’s (International Maritime Organization) Djibouti code of conduct concerning the repression of piracy, and JRC says that it should complement other EU and international initiatives on capacity building in the region.