Whenever a ship sails in any ocean of the world, Windward, a Tel Aviv-based startup, detects its location, speed and behaviour. In an office tucked away in a lane opposite the city’s Great Synagogue,¬†Windward¬†looks at global vessel traffic drawn from commercial satellites as well as maritime data. It then automatically alerts its customers, mostly government authorities across the world, about illegal fishing or oil vessels and ships that engage in smuggling and other suspicious behaviour.
“Satellites until five years ago were like magic, only the United States had them,” said¬†Ami Daniel, 29-year-old cofounder and chief executive of Windward. “Satellite data stopped being the secret sauce of the government and started being commercialised, only recently.”
A former naval officer, Daniel cofounded the company in 2010 along with colleague Matan Peled. MarInt, Windward’s proprietary satellite-based maritime analytics system, maps global maritime activity based on data collected from various sources, including commercial satellites, open-source data bases and other sensors.
Fishing fleets annually lose $50 billion (about Rs3.1 lakh crore) due to depleted stocks, poor fishery management and little supervision.
The cumulative global loss of wealth over the past three decades is estimated at $2.2 trillion, according to¬†World Bank¬†report. Windward’s technology said Daniel “allows its customers to focus on the small number of suspicious vessels, while ignoring the large number of wellbehaved vessels”.
The startup, which has a team of 12, has received a total of $7 million (about Rs43 crore) in venture funding, including the latest round by venture capital firm Aleph announced this week. “In Windward, we see bright, blue ocean markets,” said Eden Shochat, a general partner at Aleph.
Daniel believes the company’s innovative technology will be able to provide a clear indication of crude oil origins and prevent oil thefts as well as help in search and rescue missions. Last December, it found a Russian fishing vessel drifting in the Sea of Japan, reportedly due to engine failure. The Japanese coast guard commenced a search and rescue mission and towed it to safety.
Windward processes over two million ship transmissions daily. The company expects to close this year with “multiple millions of US dollars in revenues” and post profits as well.