Argentine Coast Guard Improves Coastal Policing with Real-Time, Big Data System
The Argentine Coast Guard, Prefectura Naval Argentina, oversees an area of almost 1,400,000 square nautical miles (4.8 million square kilometers) of water along the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Argentina that extends to 200 nautical miles from the coast and more than 3,800 kilometers of waterways, parts of them with limited international areas that can be covered with lush subtropical forests that can be used as smuggling and drug trafficking routes.
The coast guard, part of the Ministry of National Security of Argentina, deploys ships, helicopters and observer planes to protect the EEZ against illegal fishing activities. Since the implementation of real-time technology to track and analyze its patrols, the Prefectura Naval has improved its decision-making processes.
More than five years ago, Prefectura Naval faced an uphill battle monitoring miles of coastal waters and vessels for illegal activities such as drug smuggling and fish poaching. “We had very little information about the use of our seas,” said Ernesto Miguel Klocker, Prefectura Naval Director of Informatics and Communications.
The coast guard’s primary enforcement tool was constant patrolling and investigation of all ships. It was important for the coast guard to monitor the porous 200-mile border of the EEZ, where vessels would attempt to sneak into the zone to poach fish or conduct illegal activities.
Prefectura Naval Argentina
Patrolling and protecting an area of almost 1,400,000 square nautical miles
ArcGIS GeoEvent Server, ArcGIS Enterprise
Improved situational awareness via real-time data feeds, analysis, and a common operating picture
Previously, the only way to get evidence of illegal activity was for a vessel to patrol the area, confirm a visual sighting of the illegal ship, and take appropriate action. The process was limited by the number of patrolling ships and the confines of the 25-mile range of radar.
Data was stored on isolated, multiple systems so that the coast guard could only see a part of the information at one time. Getting a complete picture of a specific vessel required working with different systems and calling on an analyst to create a report to charge the illegal vessel. It was a time-consuming and slow process to accurately identify and track illegal activities.
In addition to overseeing security of the EEZ, Prefectura Naval faced the same challenges patrolling internal rivers such as Paraná and La Plata, which were hot beds for drug and people smuggling.
Esri distributor Aeroterra S.A. worked with Prefectura Naval to implement a real-time tracking system called Guardacostas Pro consisting primarily of ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS GeoEvent Server, with analysis provided by ArcGIS GeoAnalytics Server and Insights for ArcGIS.
The real-time system monitors every vessel and alerts the coast guard immediately when vessels illegally encroach on Argentine waters. Vessels that do not share positions are often involved in illegal activities like poaching. Through signal processing and radar images, mission control can track the positions of ships in real time and detect ships that do not transmit their position inside and outside of the EEZ.
Through ArcGIS GeoEvent Server, Prefectura Naval ingests and manages the data feeds, filters the incoming data for events of interest, and configures alerts to be sent out when needed. ArcGIS GeoAnalytics Server was also implemented to conduct deep analysis on the huge amounts of data collected to see trends and patterns. Not only is the whole process automated, Prefectura Naval now had a way to consolidate data from various systems for a common operating picture.
By using the ArcGIS platform, Prefectura Naval could now get data from different systems and combine it with geographic information for a complete operating picture. It can now track more vessels, with more data, than ever before, resulting in keen situational awareness and better decision-making.
From just 3 million records from about 20 feeds, Prefectura Naval’s database has grown to more than 17 billion records coming in from 50 feeds. With ArcGIS GeoEvent Server, Prefectura Naval can process 1,000 records of per second, and analyze in real-time; compared to the manual visual system they previously used.
The success of the Guardacostas Pro system has led to its wider adoption within the Ministry of Security — Prefectura Naval is rolling out Esri technology in other groups such as the federal police, the airport security police, and the National Guard. The ArcGIS system is used to track assets through mobile phones, radios, and vessels with location sensors.
Prefectura Naval also uses ArcGIS Enterprise Sites to share data with other security forces to improve deployment of personnel in the field.
For the Prefectura Naval Argentina, one of the most important objectives is to have a full view of the wide area of control that must be covered as the Argentine Maritime Authority. Gathering all the available information of the different systems represented is a real challenge from a technical point of view. Since the implementation of the ArcGIS platform, information received in real time can be processed, displayed, and archived instantly, which is available for security, analysis, or statistics.
The coast guard system helped to increase the knowledge of maritime traffic in the exclusive Argentine maritime economic zone, allowing protection and security activities to be based on accurate information and not on assumptions.