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  • Satellite Evolution Group

Spire Global and BlackSky Partner to Provide Real-Time, AI-Driven Maritime Custody Service


First-of-its-kind, flexible tracking system uses radio frequency emissions to automatically task imagery, detect and classify vessels, and continuously monitor change over time

Spire Global, Inc. a global provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, and BlackSky (NYSE: BKSY), a provider of geospatial intelligence solutions, have developed a real-time, commercially available Maritime Custody Service (MCS) that can automatically detect, identify and track more than 270,000 vessels worldwide in open water, along rivers and canals, and while docked at port.

The MCS uses data from Spire’s radio frequency-monitoring satellite constellation to detect emissions from maritime targets, including the ability to detect and locate dark vessels that manipulate their reported position in order to conceal nefarious activities. Then, BlackSky’s satellites automatically tip-and-cue to collect imagery and analyze the images using artificial intelligence to detect vessels, classify each vessel by type, and monitor change over time.

“The ability to identify, locate and continue to monitor ships, especially those that are spoofing their location, is becoming increasingly important as dark shipping activity continues to impact the global economy, our environment and the safety of people," said Iain Goodridge, senior director of radio frequency geolocation products at Spire. “This unique fusion of satellite-based data sources and analytics delivers actionable intelligence and situational awareness that increases transparency into global maritime operations and security for people and critical assets.”

“BlackSky and Spire have developed a very cost-effective and flexible vessel tracking service capable of delivering on-demand maritime intelligence at scale,” said Patrick O’Neil, chief innovation officer at BlackSky. “The unique AI-driven system reduces end-to-end latency across the entire tasking, collection, processing, exploitation, and dissemination process. With interoperability in mind, the MCS provides an easy-to-use autonomous, continuous and predictive maritime tracking capabilities directly into customer hands.”

Monitoring global maritime activity is critical to safeguarding national security, identifying illicit ship-to-ship transfers, intercepting vessels engaged in smuggling or sanctions evasion, monitoring liquid and dry bulk commodity movements, and tracking illegal fishing in restricted areas.

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