Enabling the public sector to save money, innovate and make more effective policy decisions by using space technology and data

Case Study: Scisys UK Ltd- Quantifying Congested Maritime Environments (QCME)

General Information

  • Provider: Scisys UK Ltd
  • Technology utilised: Earth Observation (EO)
  • Thematic area: Environment Infrastructure
  • End user(s): UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO)
  • Website: www.scisys.co.uk


  • 2018

This grant funded, feasibility study was undertaken in 2018, in response to SSGP's 2017-18 Open Call Competition.  

Digital charting is used extensively for navigation and high-assurance “safety of life at sea”.  The QCME project aimed to explore the potential for delivering value-add layers of information to existing UKHO maritime products and services by incorporating the dynamic behaviour of vessels at sea.

The project aimed to quantify maritime traffic using satellite derived information by detecting all vessels, from larger commercial vessels to smaller private leisure craft, to build up a picture of their patterns of life.  The benefits delivered include a more realistic representation of vessel movements leading to improved safety in congested waters and potential cost savings by focussing chart updates on the most dynamic areas.

Additional government beneficiaries could include, Maritime & Coastguard Agency, Border Force and Foreign & Commonwealth Office and from non-government, port authorities, and insurance companies.

The findings demonstrate that vessel detections can automatically capture and summarise typical behaviour in each study area.  QCME detections represented all traffic, including smaller vessels and uncharted obstructions, which commonly represent hazards to shipping.  As an additional element of the feasibility study SCISYS demonstrated Machine Learning approaches using large datasets in order to provide another option for rapid, scalable detection.

This study developed new business-critical applications for satellite data and introduced them to public sector users to deliver tangible benefits and cost savings.  The project partner actively participated, improving industrial understanding of their data requirements and increasing exposure to Earth Observation.  Many QCME products were designed for non-specialist users – this broadens the business application of space-derived data and facilitates uptake.  Outputs from the project are also relevant to the private sector.

A valuable Government-to-Industry working relationship was established that extends beyond the end of the feasibility study.   SCISYS continues to collaborate with the public sector user to refine the next stage of QCME, with the intention of fully automating the solution in a scalable architecture and providing a demonstration over new regions.  More broadly, the project team is investigating the requirements of a wider audience.

“Throughout the duration of the project we’ve found the SSGP team to be approachable, encouraging and enjoyable to work with.  They have facilitated introductions and have also provided the opportunity to showcase our study, using satellite derived information to Quantify Congested Maritime Environments, to a wider government audience. We look forward to continuing to work with the SSGP team"