An innovative maritime system

The Global Maritime Domain Awareness Program last night was honored as a winner of the 2008 Innovations in American Government Award, which are given out by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard's Kennedy School.

Developed by the Volpe Center of the Transportation Department's Research and Innovative Technology Administration, the program tracks the movements of 10,000 vessels from more than 40 countries.

The heart of the program is the Maritime Safety and Security Information Systems. MSSIS is a Web platform that consolidates information transmitted from commercial ship Automatic Identification System transponders with data from receivers on the shore, DOT officials said.

MSSIS users can access vessel information such as speed and direction; cargo type; and location of embarkation and destination. Updated with vessel data every 10 seconds, MSSIS analysis tools help users identify data anomalies that could indicate suspicious activity. Users are required to enter a user name and password.

The program has helped reduce smuggling and curb piracy, DOT officials said. MSSIS is a 'wiki on the waves,' fostering cooperation among the 40 participating nations. Turkey and Greece as well as India and Pakistan share pertinent maritime data, DOT officials said.

'MSSIS represents how applying the tools and transparency in the information age can enable unprecedented cooperation among not only U.S. federal agencies, but also among global nations to allow exceptional visibility, security and management of global freight shipments,' said Paul Brubaker, administrator of DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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