Using AI to Empower Cooperation Across the Indo-Pacific
SparkCognition Government Systems | March 30, 2022
- The White House released its five-point plan for how to strengthen and secure the Indo-Pacific region against growing Chinese influence.
- SparkCognition Government Systems supports increased intelligence partnerships among established and growing nations, focused on commercial and military activity in the region’s waterways.
- Participation in the recent International Maritime Exercise saw SparkCognition assist in monitoring the Gulf of Aqaba for transportation and commerce to prevent illicit activities including illegal fishing.
- Artificial intelligence has a proven ability to fill in the data gaps between neighboring military commands, which helps to track the provenance and activities of vessels moving throughout the Indo-Pacific region and identify friendly or potentially hostile actors.
U.S. leads on stability, security
In its recent Indo-Pacific Strategy document, the White House clearly stated the importance of stabilizing and building interconnectedness between the more than two dozen countries in the Indo-Pacific region concentrated around eastern Asia and Australia.
In no uncertain terms, the strategy looks at the prospects for the region and states that changing the environment around China’s growing influence is a top priority that can only be realized by creating stability and trusted security for all countries in the area. That level of cooperation in a part of the world packed with distinct national traditions and ambitions will require information sharing at a level never seen before outside of the Quad leadership nations of the U.S., India, China, and Australia.
“We will modernize our long-standing alliances, strengthen emerging partnerships, and invest in regional organizations—the collective capacity that will empower the Indo-Pacific to adapt to the 21st century’s challenges and seize its opportunities,” the document reads, in part.
Security and maritime awareness are ingredients that run through all five of the main policy objectives that the U.S. will advance for years to come in the Indo-Pacific:
- Advance a free and open Indo-Pacific.
- Build connections within and beyond the region.
- Drive regional prosperity.
- Bolster Indo-Pacific security.
- Build regional resilience to transnational threats.
AI fills data gaps between nations
At SparkCognition Government Systems (SGS), we see artificial intelligence (AI) solutions playing a transformational role in managing data from in and around waterways, to tell the difference between friendly actors, unlawful commercial agents, and belligerent powers that could disrupt the push for stability.
With so many countries and military command collectives responsible for monitoring activity in the oceans, seas, straits, and other bodies of water in the Indo-Pacific, there is a tremendous need to establish partnerships that allow for an open architecture and the free flow of data.
Improving the availability and analysis of data around military, commercial, and other activities taking place among neighboring countries will create a level of certainty that builds trust throughout the region, allowing for greater prosperity and agency for everyone.
With those objectives clearly stated, it will take advanced technology, including AI such as those used by SGS, to realize the full potential of data shared between nations and military command posts.
Rome Ruiz, SGS vice president of defense programs, said AI can fill in the gaps in intelligence that occur when tracking actors entering or leaving the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, a frequent occurrence in a region heavy with fishing ships, cargo transports, and naval assets originating from multiple countries in a small area.
“Militaries divide things into different regions and sometimes the information that you need gets lost in between them, or it’s not there in the proper context. If a ship pops into a region and the command for that region doesn’t have the context to know what kind of a vessel it is, they’re monitoring it without knowing anything,” Ruiz said.
“There was a whole pattern before they were detected, and let’s say the ship came from North Korea or somewhere we were wanting to watch… the ability to integrate and fuse data about it from all over the globe is something we can leverage.”
Monitoring and analysis ensures preparedness
SGS solutions enable detailed insights into the nature of vessels and other actors in a region, using sensor data collected “from the seabed to airspace” that helps to determine not only the nature of a particular ship but basic identification information about crew members.
This knowledge allows participating nations to use their monitoring and security resources more effectively and ensure they’re taking steps to address illegal fishing, unregistered commercial ships, or unexpected maritime military activities.
“It’s making sure that between one region and the other there’s not something missing,” Ruiz said. “If a ship is going from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean to the Suez Canal there is a handoff period because there’s a line that divides the Indian Ocean between commands. Because we have an open architecture, we can integrate these different commands, if we wanted to, to not have that gap.”
SGS demonstrates its capabilities in IMX
Outside of the Indo-Pacific, SGS recently demonstrated the value it brings to maritime awareness by participating in the 2022 running of the International Maritime Exercise, the biennial naval training event led by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
SGS’ role was to lead in the integration of open-architecture AI solutions for the Digital Ocean Prototype involving illegal fishing, smuggling, and maritime search and rescue exercises in the Gulf of Aqaba. During the exercise, SGS delivered a real-time AI capability that operated 24/7 for 60 days fault-free, fusing unclassified, open-source collected data into 250 deployed AI models from 11 hardware data sources involving multiple government and commercial theater assets such as Saildrones, government research buoys, Spanish UAVs, NATO UUVs, and Partner Nation sensors.
Using available and purchased data, SGS achieved over 90% classification accuracy, enabled Pattern of Life (POL) analysis and rapid Command & Control (C2) decisions, and demonstrated Headquarter workflow advantages for enhanced Joint Force Multi-Domain Awareness (MDA).
“The takeaways are we were able to integrate and fuse data from seabed to airspace and demonstrate we could integrate sensors from different vendors quickly, see the telemetry and deliver outcomes,” Ruiz said.
“In the Indo-Pacific, countries like China, and to some extent Russia, are building out their capabilities. Us having the ability to deliver awareness in a region where there’s increased technology and capacity building occurring from adversaries and other folks is an important piece to be able to keep an eye on. The rule of law is being challenged out there with fishing boats or coast guard vehicles, and we have to be able to identify the behavior. Having camera and sensor data and using that to be able to show the world that someone is misbehaving is not only important, vital to our security.”