AI wonders have been undeniably radicalizing industrial sectors across the world ever since the break of the 21st century. The vast maritime industrial ocean, a contributor to 90% of the global trade by shipping and over 14 trillion dollars of trade through the seas yearly, has been no exception to the AI aura. In the phenomenal era of Maritime 4.0, Windward, an Israeli start-up co-founded by the pathbreakers Matan Peled and Ami Daniel in 2010, is well-deservedly one of the leading companies in digitalizing and securing the maritime industrial business in terms of risk management and all sorts of maritime domain awareness needs with its trustable AI-Powered Predictive Maritime Intelligence Solutions and insights into maritime risk analytics.
In a global trade as vast as that of maritime, a matter of dependency followed by risk exposures automatically surfaces leading to increasing deceptive shipping practices as the number of players involved in the value chain and stakeholders in the maritime ecosystem is extensive. What happens at the seas, is often left to the mercy of assumptions and interpretations. Thus, the essence of risk mitigation surfaces in order to lead the business. Data alone, being inadequate to sail the maritime business smoothly, Windward leverages their maritime domain expertise, recognize the need and implements a new way of harnessing data by fusing maritime big data and artificial intelligence, and provides 360-degree insight into ownership structures, cargo containers, vessel behaviors and snare illicit activities in and around the waters.
Predictive intelligence is categorized under the artificial intelligence umbrella and can predict future behavior in an instant analysis that human analysis can’t compete with. In maritime AI, machine learning models are trained on thousands of dynamic maritime data points and are solely attuned to maritime nuances and data. Quality of data matters here immensely. AIS transmitters, radar signals, and imagery data which is a multi-source data pool, not only helps to deliver a real image of the happenings at sea but also generates go/no go recommendations for every vessel out at sea.
Maritime AI for Windward’s team of expert data scientists, has been a pathbreaking journey of collective efforts and research in the maritime domain for years yielding new rules, areas of investigation, and features. Last year in September, Windward launched its path-breaking Maritime Predictive Intelligence Solution powered by Maritime Artificial Intelligence Analytics that consists of ten billion data points and 300 behavioral analysis models. Going beyond data, MAIA filters, searches, and analyses maritime data to connect the dots of aspects, potential risks and beware of potentially treacherous business partners. The MAIA behavior analysis model, when implemented, provides dynamic predictive intelligence solutions over the horizon related to vessel navigation mode, cargo visibility, vessel identification, actual location, etc. These data are further combined into profiles and patterns to generate new insights and implement digital transformation of the maritime ecosystem. MAIA also powers voyage irregularities and provides clients with a 360-degree smart profile of each entity, bringing transparency and accountability to the global maritime grid. It detects inconsistencies and behavioral irregularities from the scratch i.e the vessel’s age, flag hopping, course deviations, transmission gaps, ship-to-ship transfers, etc and helps give a go/no go recommendations with 75%less positives. This helps industry players in the maritime ecosystem make the best decisions to protect their interests and optimize their performance and partner with only those entities complying with all the latest regulations to avoid hindrances.
“Risk management lies at the core of any business operation and maritime is no exception. With our Predictive Intelligence Solution, we are giving authorities, banks, insurers, shipping companies, and others the most comprehensive view of maritime risk and enabling the highest level of accountability and transparency.”- assures CEO Ami Daniel.
As a ship sails beyond the horizon, it enters a world of “radical freedom” as stated by William Langewiesche in his book ‘The outlaw Sea’. Freedom is misused through piracy activities, human trafficking, smuggling , illegal dumping of wastes in sea, overfishing, smuggling etc. Windward’s AI enabled platform has a solution to these as well. Ami Daniel, currently the CEO of Windward states that its crime tracking software has been a result of several technological developments. The Automated Identification System is a radio and satellite transceiver network in which all large vessels are required to keep and transmit data about the vessel’s position, where it is heading, speed, draft, destination port, and several other data periodically. Every ship also has a unique International Maritime Organisation identifier number that can also be tracked. These are some of the freely available sources of data that are augmented with the information provided by the clients including the UN, the European Border, Coast Guard Agency, and US agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of Naval Intelligence. However the Captain might choose to turn off AIS on its way to an importer’s port and screen out the vessel from the radar, or a vessel seeking to dodge sanctions could change its nationality and adopt a so-called flag of convenience. This itself is an indication of possible illicit activity, making it harder to track the vessel. This is where Windward’s software comes to play. AI builds “operational profiles” of ships, based on the actual activity and by combining about 100 million data points on a day to create a full path history. By correlating information on a vessel’s current and past positions with data on navigation, weather, ports, and trading patterns, Windward creates a unique fingerprint. A senior data scientist, Yonit Hoffman explains, “A vessel can change its name, but it’s likely to continue behaving in the same way – it’s like an escaped convict changing his name, appearance and social security number, but still visiting his elderly mother. The unique fingerprint is the vessel’s operational profile and that unique signature remains the same.”
Windward also has a partnership with another AI-enabled company, HawkEye 360 that has its own cluster of small satellites and provides ubiquitous and commercially available data. Through this data, it's possible to track a ship that has disabled its AIS. Daniel also comments that since its data is used by banks and insurance companies to decide about loans and underwriting, the machine learning techniques that enable Windward to find patterns in all this data have to be transparent. Windward creates a risk score based on the results of different machine learning models that have identified ships with plausible illicit activities and also looks for patterns in the ownership structure of the vessels such as if the vessel has been associated with a vessel with criminal records in the past or if the captain has been caught violating sanctions. A user can click on a vessel and know immediately why Windward AI has labeled it as a high-medium or low-risk ship. While the IMO system has only 70000 registered ships, Windward tracks around 400,000 including the smaller fishing boats that are outside IMO’s limits and are a small but potential hidden den for smuggling activities. Windward’s technology with its “marriage of data science and maritime expertise” as stated by Ami Daniel, has already yielded fruitful results by snaring a wide range of murky maritime activities – from attempts by Iran to defy oil sanctions, helping the Israeli Government detain a Panamanian-flagged ship called the Emerald that was taking oil from Iran to Syria violating international regulations to exposing Chinese intimidation of Vietnamese fishing boats in the disputed waters of the South China Sea along with tracking poachers preying on the endangered species in national parks, reporting undiscovered chemical spills, dumping of hazardous wastes, gas flaring and many more.
The outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic last year shook all the norms of the world, the maritime industrial waves being no exception to it. Windward Maritime Analytics came up with a solution to help strike a balance between protecting public health and global economic stability. Last year, Windward launched a publicly accessible tool called the COVID 19 Shipping Map that enabled users to track and understand global shipping activity and assess the impact of Covid 19 on global trade over time. It aimed at enabling everyone including researchers, ports, governments, health officials, and the public witness that even in the shattering times of pandemic, how the global shipping industry continues battling through the storms at sea and pandemics all over the world to ensure supplies continue to flow in, as stated by Ami Daniel. The maritime industry, though a primary reason behind the existence and smooth running of global trade, has never been the “trending” news in the media. Especially in the challenging times of pandemic, the world deserves to witness the industry’s contribution behind the curtains and Windward has indeed contributed significantly to that cause.
In July 2021, Windward added its new feature “Container Insights" to its existing Cargo Insights by enabling live screening and tracking of containers along with Bill of Landing verification. Almost seven out of twelve trillion dollars of seaborne trade are transported via containers, again a wide scope for smuggling. For example UNODC seizure data indicate that most of the illegal drug cocaine available in European drug markets is smuggled through the sea in container ships. Container numbers are included in the BOL and Letter of Credit but do not necessarily contain the vessel identification number i.e the IMO number. Thus, it gets difficult for banks to vet the transactions and it becomes a burden for the banks as they need to independently verify that those transactions really took place and not as a part of the fraud process or money laundering. Windward’s Container Insights benefits customers to overcome these challenges by providing data and tracking information to any container along with the vessel information in which it is shipped. Thus, customers from the financial and insurance sectors and governments can screen out suspicious containers as part of their counterparty due diligence processes and investigate the leads. The system also provides an independent validation capability for BOL verification and with updates on the actual delivery status, stakeholders can ensure critical transaction steps. “Risk insights for containers of interest and BOL verification are essential for any entity that deals with global trade to understand the full picture of who they are conducting the business with. This new capability combined with our Company Risk and Vessel Insights provides our users with a one-stop-shop for all maritime trade operations.”- Ami Daniel, on his company’s new initiative.
In September 2021, Windward launched yet one more pathbreaking initiative named “Data for Decarbonisation Program” by training AI to make carbon-related commercial decisions as a step ahead to decarbonizing the maritime industry. The program targets creating large datasets gathered from all stakeholders in the maritime trade to build AI models that can accurately predict the carbon emissions of any vessel voyage, and optimize all the initial processes involving vessel selection, investigating its fuel consumptions, contract clauses, and supply chain scheduling. The data-sharing hub will not only look to formulate a solution but also accelerate the learning curve of understanding their own data and optimizing their own assets. It will enable shipowners to make cuts on the fuel costs by optimizing vessel operations without bearing the costs of expensive IoT devices and hardware. Ami Daniel expressed his thrill and gratitude by announcing his company’s partnership with ADNOC Logistics and Services Executive Ship Management, ASM, Interunity Group, and SOKANA for being one of the first across the maritime ecosystem within financial institutions , shipowners, insurers, charters, and energy companies to join hands on this move for providing a “green premium” to the industry.
While clearing transactions, maritime stakeholders run numerous due diligence checks to mitigate risks. In an industry that lacks standardized processes for risk reporting, the need arises for the players in the value chain to have access to data and actionable insights to be aware of risks within their fleet. With this insight, in mid-October, Windward launched the “Windward Online Portal” that enables access to on-demand, comprehensive risk insights as per the individual needs of a company. Shipowners and all maritime stakeholders are provided on-demand services including an alert system, BOL verification, credit checks, and compliance certificates. Shipowners can sign up for a subscription-based alert system when a vessel in their fleet has been flagged for suspicious illicit deeds or is not abiding by the regulations that enabled them to take action when one of their vessel’s risk status changes. Shipowners can also purchase one-off vessel compliance certificates through the portal to demonstrate to potential business partners that their vessel has not violated any sanction, thus securing their business faster. Carbon emission certificates are also to be added to the portal soon. The portal is proof that innovation is not only about AI but making things more accessible and business, as stated by the CEO.
“There are no accidents, there is only some purpose”- Deepak Chopra.
Ami Daniel was an Israeli navy officer aboard INS Hanit, an Israeli frigate that was damaged by an anti-ship missile fired by Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon War. It was this mishap that led him to collaborate with Matan Peled, a passionate entrepreneur, and grow their nascent brainchild across four continents in a decade, soon to lead the world in maritime risk analytics. The company currently has partnerships with four major global shipping companies who account for 40% of global oil trading and seven major clubs of the International Group of P&I Clubs, including The American Club, Britannia P&I, Steamship Mutual, etc that provide liability coverage for nearly 65% of the world’s maritime trade. Recently, Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Limited announced its partnership with Windward with the aim of streamlining its trade compliance processes in August 2021. Windward also made the news by being selected by CARICOM IMPAS, an organization of fifteen Member States and five Associate Members in the Caribbean as well as CARICOM’s Regional Security System for implementing the company’s risk analytics intelligence to secure Maritime Security in the Caribbean. Also with a recent strategic investment of $10.8 million led by Horizon Ventures along with Series A investor, Aleph, and other leading investors in finance, Windward assures to build the largest comprehensive maritime data and analytics empire in history quickly.
“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort”- John Ruskin.
With quality efforts from all data scientists attached with Windward, the company is breaking its own records every day by building blocks just to expedite the next one. Being a neutral AI platform, Windward has bound its partners with trust and integrity and is in the way of stabilizing the world fleet, national defense, and intelligence and economics, in terms of security, finance, and business. In the coming years, it is sure to excel further in its initiatives and contribute to a sustainable era of Shipping 4.0.