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Bahrain deploying AI as part of maritime surveillance system

Sandeep Singh Grewal Fri, 01 Nov 2019

Bahrain is deploying artificial intelligence (AI) as part of a surveillance expansion in its territorial waters.

Mr Tucker explains the new border surveillance technology

UK-based SRT Marine System is working with the Coastguard to ensure Bahrain is protected by a “ring of steel”, the company’s chief executive Simon Tucker told the GDN.

It involves integrating radar and CCTV equipment, which increases the visual capabilities of border control officers and sends alerts of suspicious activity.

“We are working with the Coastguard now to implement the next phase of a maritime surveillance system, which will introduce automated intelligent analytics,” said Mr Tucker.

“This will help them to look at large amounts of real time data, identify threats and counter illegal activity more efficiently.”

The company previously worked with the Coastguard on a project that involved installing tracking devices in 7,500 fishing boats, meaning their activities could be monitored by authorities.

Vessels equipped with the compulsory devices also receive alerts when they stray outside Bahrain’s territorial waters.

“The next stage would see the introduction of radars and CCTV, linked to provide data analytics that will help pick out the bad guy or illegal activity,” explained Mr Tucker.

“Basically, this will give Bahrain a ring of steel around the country.

“Bahrain’s Coastguard rooms will be working as one team, with a common data network that can be connected with navy or other security services.”

He described the deployment of new surveillance equipment at sea as the second phase of an upgrade of Bahrain’s maritime border defences.

“With the implementation of phase two, they can even see a periscope popped up 20km away,” revealed Mr Tucker.

“That would generate an alert and an operator will be assigned to deal with the mission.”

Visuals of suspicious activity can even be converted into 3D models, giving a clearer picture of activity on the open sea.

“For example, they can see out in the Indian Ocean and even track a vessel destined for Bahrain – and know its journey and stop-overs,” he said.

“All this raw data within Bahrain can be shared with regional neighbours.”

The new technology was showcased at the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference (BIDEC) 2019, which was held last week.

Bahrain has stepped up its border protections, particularly at sea, after it emerged weapons were being imported by boat from Iran.

Arms traffickers in possession of high-grade explosives and firearms have been arrested during a security crackdown in the wake of 2011 unrest.

Several terrorists have also been detained during raids on illegal weapons warehouses, with several of those rounded up receiving funding and training from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps or Iranian proxies such as Hizbollah.

An international naval coalition operating from Bahrain has also intercepted several vessels carrying weapons from Iran to Houthi rebels in Yemen.

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