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How satellites can help fathom out ways to protect ships and boost seaborne trade

By on

Austen Atkinson – CEO, Lexicon Science and Visiting Professor of Immersive Technologies and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Sunderland gives his thoughts on the importance and opportunities of utilising satellite data through situational awareness technology ahead of speaking at our Discover the Possibilities “INTO THE BLUE” conference taking place Thursday 28th March 2019

“We live in an unstable world where shipping faces a constant threat from terrorism, piracy and the perils of the weather.

The debate around Brexit has highlighted the importance of international trade in the success of the global economy, and in turn national and regional economies. Shipping is a vital cog in that multitrillion pound trade, but it is fragile.

Thankfully, situational awareness technology can help to keep our ships, crews, passengers and cargoes safe. Beyond that, it can be used to develop frictionless trade, tracking goods, automatically checking cargo through frontiers and customs controls and ensuring ships are operating legally.

As a fast-moving company working in artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, Lexicon works not just on land-based projects such as smart city planning, but also on the development of maritime technology.

It is a key area of focus for us and we are one of the founders of the Situational Awareness Information National Technology Service (SAINTS), launched by innovative companies and the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence. SAINTS’ first initiative is the Smart Port North East Testbed to develop satellite-based solutions and digital programmes for ports and the maritime industry.

Communications satellites and the data they generate, corroborated by land-based, radio and manifest data, give us the ability to pinpoint a ship’s location and alert us to man-made and natural threats. They can also improve planning of voyages to speed up journeys, reduce lost time, cut fuel wastage and ultimately lower transport costs and minimise emissions that are harmful to the environment.

Developing new technologies that enable us to monitor shipping in real time will transform the Blue Economy. That is why the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency are keen to encourage innovations that will complement and enhance existing systems.

Last year’s Discover the Possibilities Conference raised awareness about the North East space and satellite sector, regionally and nationally. This year’s event on March 28 will demonstrate how it is developing solutions to the big problems facing the Blue Economy.”

Find out more about the Discover The Possibilities:Into The Blue conference on March 28th – click here. 


The North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence offers opportunities and partnerships to unlock market opportunities within the North East of the UK which will benefit local and national economies.