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Satellites and big data analytics to aid maritime security


Deakin University is teaming up with SmartSat Co-operative Research Centre, high-tech company Leonardo Australia and e-GEOS, a global distributor for satellite data, to uncover how satellites and big data analytics can support maritime security and surveillance. 

The organisations signed an agreement for the first phase of “Enhancing Earth Observation for Maritime Domain Awareness” (EO4MDA) on 14 October. 

Founded by SmartSat CRC, EO4MDA aims to support authorities across the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone and coastal areas with data from ground, air and naval-based systems, integrated with space-based data reports. 

Under the agreement, the partners will develop and demonstrate first phase activities towards an Australian maritime domain awareness capability with satellite technologies. This will be enhanced by artificial intelligence and aligned to national and civil security objectives. 

With top expertise in the field of AI, optimisation and uncertainty quantification, Deakin’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) will test newly developed machine learning models. These will be integrated into the SEonSe platform to improve satellite-based data efficiency in the Australian environment and make predictions on anomalous behaviour at sea, allowing the authorities to plan the best strategies. 

Alfred Deakin Professor Saeid Nahavandi, director of IISRI and pro vice-chancellor (Defence Technologies) said his team is excited to work with Leonardo and SmartSat CRC on the project, establishing sovereign capabilities in earth observation for Australia. 

“Deakin researchers will develop state-of-the-art deep learning algorithms with uncertainty-aware capabilities for anomaly detection, utilising data from satellites and other repositories,” Nahavandi said. 

Drawing on years of operational experience in providing maritime surveillance services to institutional users and private customers, Leonardo and its subsidiary e-GEOS will contribute digital infrastructure and personnel to accelerate the research outcomes. 

“We are proud to collaborate with SmartSat CRC and Deakin University, offering our technologies and knowhow to support Australian-led R&D to drive world-leading Earth Observation remote sensing capabilities,” Leonardo Australia managing director Giorgio Mantegazza said. 

“Drawing on expert knowledge from an industrial Group, Leonardo, a leader in the development and supply of integrated systems and technologies for maritime domain awareness, and on 25 years of experience in the Earth observation domain, with e-GEOS as an international leader.” 

EO4MDA will use the e-GEOS platform “SEonSE”, which merges data from the Italian Space Agency and the Italian Ministry of Defence COSMO-SkyMed constellation, as well as data from other satellites and different sources. SEonSE is particularly useful to generate vessel detection reports with its Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) technology. Leveraging the use of cloud computing and big data analytics, SEonSE provides real-time maritime situational awareness to detect illegal activities, support environment monitoring (i.e. oil leaks) and fight piracy. 

Deakin University and Leonardo Australia will investigate applications of satellite-derived data to assist maritime decision-makers in a real-world demonstration, SmartSat CEO Professor Andy Koronios said. 

“This project will deliver practical outcomes for our nation, enabling us in enhanced border protection, monitoring of our fisheries and aquaculture, as well as discharging our responsibilities in search and rescue and maritime safety. I am delighted with this impactful collaboration with our great partners Leonardo Australia and Deakin University,” Koronios said. 

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