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Spire and Ursa Space to help detect illicit maritime activity

Spire will provide automatic identification system data to help detect and monitor ships that may be involved in illegal fishing, piracy and other illicit behaviour.

Ursa Space Systems, a geospatial analytics orchestrator, and Spire Global have partnered to combine their capabilities for detecting illicit maritime activity for the US government.

This data fusion capability allows Ursa Space and Spire to detect and track ships that have gone “dark” by turning off their AIS signals. A ship turning off its AIS raises a red flag, especially when the ship’s location before and after rouses further suspicion. Dark ships represent a major gap in maritime coverage and hinder efforts to enforce international sanctions, prevent illegal fishing and piracy, and/or follow commodity cargoes from origin to destination.

Commenting on the partnership, Chuck Cash, Vice President of Federal Sales, Spire, said: “Illegal maritime activity has far-reaching implications on national security, economics, human rights and more – but for a long time it was hard to prevent due to the lack of transparency on the open oceans. Our partnership with Ursa Space is a phenomenal demonstration of how data collected from space can improve life on Earth. The complementary nature of AIS data and SAR imagery plays a major role in detecting and preventing illegal maritime activity.”

Nicole Robinson, President of Ursa Space, added: “Spire has always been a collaborator with a lot of synergies. We’re excited to see this culminate to a more formalised relationship which gives us a sense of purpose to provide insight for safe maritime passage and detection of possibly nefarious events.”

Spire contributes to Ursa Space’s virtual constellation by providing crucial AIS data, which has been used previously in covering oil spills, illegal fishing identification, and hurricane impact. In working with Spire, a company which detects AIS signals from over 280,000 vessels to provide real-time vessel tracking, Ursa Space can incorporate AIS data to help identify potentially illegal behaviour.

Spire can track ships in real-time by detecting AIS signals from more than 280,000 vessels. Ursa Space provides customers insights into Earth’s physical changes by leveraging commercial satellite constellations and data fusion capabilities.