Understanding vessel movements in our seas.

"We are turning information about who, when and where, into knowledge about - what vessels are actually doing."

  • We developed a software tool called MAIA (Maritime Anomaly Indication and Alerting) that determines a vessels activity based on its movement history.
  • The aim is to send an alert to an operator if a vessel’s activity is unusual.
  • MAIA conducts its analysis in real time which saves the operator from trying to identify unusual behaviour from the clutter of thousands of vessel tracks.

The Defence Technology Agency (DTA) has been working with New Zealand’s National Maritime Coordination Centre (NMCC) to develop tools for understanding vessel movements in our seas.

The thousands of vessels in our ocean regions carry on-board transponders that send out their own ship information for safety reasons and to avoid collisions at sea. We can collect this data and use it to provide a picture of a ship’s normal pattern of movement or behaviour, be it behaviour of a passenger vessel, fishing boat, sand carrier or container ship. We can then gauge when a vessel deviates from its usual behaviour. An unusual behaviour may mean a vessel is carrying out an activity in an unpermitted area, and not complying with the rules of New Zealand’s Maritime Economic Zone (MEZ).

Our technology supporting maritime surveillance

One such software tool we’ve developed is called MAIA – the Maritime Anomaly Indication and Alerting tool. MAIA is designed to recognise vessels’ normal patterns of behaviour, and then detect behavour that deviates from this pattern and flag an alert to the appropriate provider or organisation.

MAIA can scan thousands of vessel tracks in real time and filters them for unusual behaviours or vessels carrying out activities in unpermitted areas. This can save hours of operators’ time, for example fisheries officers’ time staring at patterns on screens to determine whether or not a vessel is showing valid fishing behaviour.

MAIA also takes into account weather conditions because a vessel may behave differently in rough seas compared with calm conditions.