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Harbor surveillance technology
May 15, 2024 4:24:33 PM2 min read

Limitations of current surveillance technologies


The foundational technologies for maritime surveillance have long been the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Radar. These systems are critical for the tracking and monitoring of vessels, providing essential data on location, course, and speed. However, while these technologies are indispensable for maritime navigation and basic surveillance, their limitations in addressing contemporary security challenges are increasingly evident. 


AIS is designed to automatically provide information about a ship to other ships and to coastal authorities, including the vessel’s identity, type, position, course, speed, and navigational status. While AIS enhances maritime safety by reducing the risk of collision, its effectiveness as a security tool is limited. AIS data can be manipulated or deactivated, allowing illicit activities to go undetected. Smugglers, traffickers, and illegal fishers often exploit these vulnerabilities to evade law enforcement and continue their operations unseen.



Radar systems detect objects and measure their range by sending out pulses of high-frequency electromagnetic waves that reflect off the object back to the source. They are effective for collision avoidance and for tracking vessels in real-time. However, radar has its limitations, particularly in detecting small or low-profile vessels, which are commonly used in smuggling operations. Moreover, radar’s effectiveness can be compromised by sea clutter, weather conditions, and the range at which it can detect objects, leaving gaps in surveillance coverage.


The limitations of AIS and Radar systems highlight significant gaps in maritime security. These technologies are less effective in detecting unauthorized entries into restricted areas, identifying vessels engaged in illicit activities that are deliberately trying to avoid detection, and monitoring vast and remote areas of the ocean. The reliance on AIS and Radar alone is insufficient for comprehensive maritime security, as these systems do not provide visual verification of a vessel’s activities or cargo, making it challenging to distinguish between legitimate and illicit operations.


The inherent limitations of AIS and Radar systems in addressing the full spectrum of maritime security threats underscore the need for more advanced and integrated solutions. SEAGULL Surveillance, with its capability to analyze video streams in real-time using artificial intelligence, offers a significant enhancement over traditional technologies. 

“By providing detailed visual information and detecting anomalies that AIS and Radar might miss, SEAGULL Surveillance represents a new era in maritime security, capable of addressing the complex challenges of modern maritime operations.”
- Norman Wilkinson, VP - International Business Development at SEAGULL Surveillance

>> continue reading: this blog is just an excerpt from our eBook 'Never blink an eye, enhanced maritime security.'

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