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Navigating the Grey Areas of Maritime Risk: the need for Verified Data in a Digital Economy

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Events of the past year have drawn attention to threats and risks generated by the existence of grey markets and the spread of misinformation.

The global maritime risk picture is no exception and itself risks being clouded by poor quality, open-source information. Maritime supply chains have occupied a pivotal role in the dynamics of the global economy since traders first took to the high seas: in today’s digital economy, it is likely that an increasing range of customers outside of the traditional maritime space will need verified data to help conduct due diligence, analyse risk, trace unaccounted-for assets or assess claims.

Traditionally, maritime risk areas are defined to help onboard crew navigate safely through areas of increased maritime security risk, demarcated where there is evidence for physical risks to vessels (such as piracy or blockades), or indicators of maritime crime and vessel obfuscation that suggest hotspots for illicit activity (such as ship-to-ship transfers, sanctions evasion). The MariTrace Platform provides rich data and overlays for areas that carry physical risk to vessels: subscribed users can view data on incidents of piracy and overlay heatmaps of piracy and conflict data over time; access rich data on the movements and locations of vessels that are included on global sanctions lists; and use historical timeline data in the MariTrace platform to trace vessel history and movements.

The decision to introduce ACLED data (tracking conflict events on land) into the MariTrace platform reflects the changes in framing how we assess maritime risk.

Increasingly, maritime crime is understood as an extension of activities on land that have deep, complex roots in ecosystems of sustained conflict, producing layered networks of capabilities and assets that extend far beyond borders on maps to include access to digital finance and sophisticated methods for obfuscating identity.

No longer passive carriers of cargo, ships are an extension of these assets and capabilities. The need for quality assurance in data provenance should generate market innovations in data solutions services, as analysts in banks, insurance services and logistics firms seek out verified maritime data. The evolution in how we collectively define maritime risk and security is driving a commensurate upgrade in data and knowledge platforms.


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