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Satellites to track ships, planes and financial transaction

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Staff writer ▼ | August 14, 2013
ShipsGround fleet management is something many companies have in place but what about cruise ships and freighters? Thanks to satellites, every company now can track their vessels no matter where on blue waters they are.


Canadian company exactEarth has been mining data about shipping traffic using satellites orbiting around Earth and using them they can get a lot more of data than previously available. The company sells information about the more than 100,000 ships it detects per day to more than 50 customers on almost all continents and their customers range from to navies and governments.

Satellites are able to provide much more detailed tracking than any other method. They can identify and track ship traffic anywhere on world's oceans, monitor whether ships are following maritime traffic laws or they are enterign protected areas, and they can also be very useful in ares with high piracy activities when ship location data may save lives.

However, ExactEarth is not only company that came to the idea of using satellites to track ships. A company from Rochelle Park, N.J., Orbcomm, also has own satellites in both equatorial and polar orbit. Norway also launched its satellites three years ago and German Aerospace Center is preparing its own launch later this year.

ExactEarth's satellites aren't the only AIS detectors in space. Rochelle Park, N.J.-based Orbcomm sells data subscriptions similar to ExactEarth's and already has AIS satellites in both equatorial and polar orbit. Norway launched its AISSat-1 in 2010 and the German Aerospace Center DLR's AISSat is scheduled to blast off on an Indian launcher later this year.

On top of that, Earth-orbiting satellites could be used for many more tasks. By using clusters of connected computers, scientists say, companies will be able to track airplane routes, ground-based activities and even financial transaction. That would mean much more security for some industries but also a further loss of privacy for technology users around the world.

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