Google dealing with the Somali Pirates

By Curious

An official information from Google lately revealed at a defense technology conference that his company would in short time roll out a feature that would grant privileges to user connected to internet to track all vessels at sea, plus U.S. Navy warships, live. The Google representatives were not happy that the navy itself did not have this capability. This surprised many many people at the conference and later embarrassed the Google official. It is known that the navy has had this tracking capability since the 1980s, when it started equipping its vessels with AIS (Automatic Identification System) transmitters that all big vessels are obliged to carry in order to qualify for insurance.
For more than a 10 years satellites have been used to fast collection and distribution of the AIS transmissions, that's the way for easy tracking of large vessels. Shipping firms are the main users of this data. The U.S. Navy has used the AIS monitoring system for 30 years.
The navy, after all, can disable certain AIS data as needed. For instance, the warships are able to only show location but not name of the vessel. This informs mariners and others (like Google users and Somali pirates) with access to AIS information that a large vessel is at a certain position in the sea. The U.S. Navy frequently has its vessels turn off AIS altogether. Small ships do not use AIS and are more likely to be transporting forbidden by law cargo. People smuggling with AIS can turn it off, despite the fact that this is suspicions if someone spots that AIS signal is disabled.
AIS was intended to be collision avoidance system in bad weather. Vessels at sea can pick up AIS signals up to 40 kilometers away. What Google plans? The answer is simple to use space satellites to pick up the AIS signals and make this data available free on internet for everyone. Others had been using satellites this way for years. The U.S. Coast Guard, started collecting AIS signals via satellite for live tracking on vessels near American waters.