The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) is making available SUMO, open source software that can help detect ships engaged in illicit activities. The JRC hopes other software developers will add functionality to SUMO (Search for Unidentified Marine Objects), helping it to improve it further for the benefit of everyone.
Depending on the accuracy of the satellite used, the software can spot maritime objects as small as a 1 metre-sized buoy. It can identify a vessel’s size and where it is heading, the JRC explained in an announcement last week. SUMO has already been used to fight oil dumping, piracy and unsustainable fishing.
From the announcement:
“SUMO takes advantage of the growing use of radar satellites, which are the most suitable for detecting ships because they can ‘see’ them even in cloudy conditions or at night. Large numbers of images of the oceans are now generated by Earth-orbiting radar satellites, but scanning them for ships is a complex process and would not be manageable without the help of software such as SUMO.”
“The availability of satellite images has hugely increased by the open data policy of the European Union’s Copernicus Earth observation satellite programme, which includes the radar imaging satellite Sentinel-1. The data collected by Sentinel-1 and the rest of the Copernicus programme is available for free to all users. The programme will enable the private sector to convert basic Copernicus outputs into information services tailored to specific users, enabling better monitoring of the Earth and at the same time stimulating economic activity.”
The SUMO software is available on Github. The software does not actually require installation. It’s packaged to run in a Docker container on the Ubuntu Linux operating system; although it can be changed to run on other systems.