Satellites monitor the whole planet, but currently owners and operators don’t share information.  That’s about to change, with a new co-operation initiative, C-SIGMA (Collaboration in Space for International Global Maritime Awareness), which has opened its headquarters at Elfordstown Earthsation, Cork, Ireland.

C-SIGMA is an international initiative under which satellite owners and operators worldwide will share maritime based information. The project aims to enhance maritime surveillance systems and increase global effectiveness in areas such as search & rescue, location and tracking of vessels, monitoring of beaches and ports, and detection of unlicensed fishing and illicit activity.

The C-SIGMA Centre will co-ordinate projects put forward by the C-SIGMA partners worldwide, and its location in Cork was approved at the C-Sigma meeting in May 2012 at La Spezia in Italy.

C-SIGMA partners include both public and private entities, and participants in the inaugural C-SIGMA workshop, held at the European Space Agency headquarters in 2011 in Frascati, Italy, included US, Irish, Italian, French and Japanese Coast Guards, Australian Customs, Italian, US and Canadian Navies, EMSA, Frontex and NATO.

Opening the C-SIGMA Centre, George Guy Thomas, formerly US Navy and US Airforce, and currently Science & Technology Advisor, US Coast Guard said “All maritime nations of the world have a stake in these topics and indeed, many nations are working in just these concerns, but no one nation can successfully counter all of these problems, thus a global consortium is required.  The C-SIGMA Centre is dedicated to building that consortium, with Elfordstown working to become its global information hub.”