DFRC: maritime situational awareness

All projects, Ongoing projects


Vessels at sea must communicate their position and follow the course provided to the Authority, their activity monitored via AIS, radars and satellite. What remained unknown, till now, is the activity of people on-board: exploiting a very popular habit, nowadays, namely everyone carrying a mobile phone, it is possible to understand whether and how many people are on-board a vessel at sea or near the shore, by using mobile phones detectors.
This information, correlated with AIS and Satellite data, is used to provide a more comprehensive picture of the maritime situation, allowing Coast Guard and Navy to spot abnormal activities or emergency states.
The fusion engine capable of such combination is up and running, acquiring data from the 8 phone sensors located on the south-eastern coast of Ireland. The algorithm is at its final stage of fine-tuning, delivering the situation awareness picture of the Irish Sea on an interactive map that allows real-time data retrieval as well as historical analysis, performed at specific points in time or in selected geographical areas.

SeaSearch is a powerful tool to assist investigation near shores regarding suspicious behaviour of vessels and people on-board. Navy, Coast Guards, as well as Lighthouse Authority may need additional investigation tools to monitor the coast and the near sea, to spot unusual human activity.
Sometimes, in fact, small vessels can be sailing with inactive AIS system, or having people on-board that appear to be present, at different time, on other similar boats, following the same course back and forth with no apparent reason. Moreover, there could be people activity in areas where no boat has been detected or reported present.
Those kinds of situation can’t be spotted by the traditional means of surveillance used by CoastGuards and Navy, yet they could be proof of abnormal activities going on in the area under monitoring.
There is one thing that those scenarios all have in common: people are used to carry (and use) their mobile phones everywhere, especially when there’s a need to communicate in unofficial ways.
SeaSearch offers a way to detect these activities and, integrating Satellite and AIS data, to build a comprehensive Maritime Situation Picture.

 Project description on DFRC website

 Latest news on the project

 SeaSearch brochure

DFRC website

Key Capabilities

  • Detection of small boats outside of the radar coverage
  • Detection of small boats with large number of passengers
  • Detection of “new” passenger on board
  • Support for tracking small vessels