Gaining Maritime Security Through Graph-Based Situational Awareness

· 3 min read

Maritime piracy is one of the most serious threats to international trade and security. To combat piracy and ensure the safety of vessels, analysts and operators must have a thorough understanding of the real-time situation. Situational awareness (SA) is an important concept for those tasked with combating maritime piracy. It refers to the ability to understand the environment around a vessel and its crew, as well as the ability to recognize and respond to potential threats. This is an especially important skill for analysts looking to identify pirate activity and take action against it.

Ships in the Gulf of Aden

In this post, we will explore the past experiences of Christophe Willemsen, our CTO while serving in the Belgian Navy. Christophe carried out an important role in fighting piracy in the Gulf of Aden, a critical shipping and trade passage off the coast of Somalia. We will look at the threat landscape as it relates to piracy, how SA was developed in the past and how GraphaAware Hume can be effectively utilised for this critical mission.

The Gulf of Aden is one of the world’s most vital shipping routes and thus represents a very attractive target for opportunistic pirates. The situation is very dangerous and shipping companies, navies and other stakeholders must utilise all tools available to gain the upper hand against the serious threat of piracy.

Gulf of Aden

During his time in the Belgian Navy, Christophe explained that in the not-so-distant past, maritime analysts and operators in the Gulf of Aden were forced to rely on a patchwork of different technologies, including radio, VHF, and direct reports and communication with national and international intelligence agencies, among others to develop SA. Many of these methods and technologies were very expensive and manual, even relying on “Janes”, the print edition of a naval encyclopedia to determine available vessels for potential countermeasures. The result was a high cost for resources as well as human oversight. When seconds counted to ensure safety and lives, these disparate and resource-heavy technologies were clearly inefficient.

Gain situational awareness with graph analytics

In recent years, the sources and volume of data available to those charged with protecting vessels, trade routes and crews have dramatically increased. The challenge now is how to ingest, organise and visualise this data in a meaningful and traversable way. Graph analytics has emerged as an incredibly powerful tool for gaining SA, and Christophe explains just how GraphAware Hume is a solution that can enable analysts to quickly and effectively analyse maritime piracy data to protect critical interests and lives.

Hume visualisation

GraphAware Hume is a graph analytics platform that allows users to quickly and intuitively analyse vast datasets. It uses a sophisticated graph query language that can be easily adapted to different types of data. With GraphAware Hume, analysts can quickly identify patterns and relationships in large datasets, making it an ideal tool for exploring maritime piracy data and making it understandable and actionable.

GraphAware Hume can be used to map out the connections between vessels, ports, and routes, providing analysts with a comprehensive view of the situation. It can also be used to identify the most common routes taken by pirates, allowing analysts to better target interventions and deploy assets. Additionally, Hume can be used to analyse the behaviour of pirates, such as the tactics they use and their specific vessels, which can be used to inform countermeasures. Effective use of data can also inform analysts and operators to differentiate pirate activity from potentially non-threatening vessels, especially political refugees fleeing violence which can be critical as well to providing humanitarian response if needed.

Hume also enables analysts to detect anomalies and uncover hidden relationships in the data. This can be used to identify potential targets of piracy activity, allowing analysts to preemptively deploy assets to protect vessels. Additionally, GraphAware Hume can be used to identify trends and patterns in piracy activity, allowing analysts to anticipate future incidents and develop more effective strategies for combatting piracy.

Hume details

Overall, GraphAware Hume is an incredibly powerful tool for gaining situational awareness and combatting maritime piracy. It allows analysts to quickly and intuitively analyse large amounts of data, uncover hidden relationships, and identify potential targets of piracy activity. With GraphAware Hume, analysts can gain a better understanding of the situation and develop more effective strategies for protecting vessels and personnel from piracy.

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Christophe Willemsen

Technology & Infrastructure | Neo4j certification

Christophe Willemsen brings almost 15 years of experience as a Communication Systems Engineer for the Belgian Navy to the table. Highly skilled in software engineering, he is one of the primary authors of Hume and an active participant in the Neo4j community, dedicating his efforts towards driving the development of cutting-edge technologies in the field.