Anti-Pirate Software Tracks Risks at High Seas


Awareness and Leadership Needed on Piracy, Expert Says

"There needs to be a much bigger awareness and a clear leadership role on piracy," Nielsen told Discovery News from Copenhagen. "There are naval ships and still there are more attacks, and it's escalating. So, not enough is being done.

High-seas hijackings jumped from 46 in 2008 to 62 in 2010, Nielsen said, and at least seven sailors have lost their lives this year in 18 hijackings this year.

Nielsen and other shippers want access to the Navy's new anti-piracy computer model, but Navy officials say they can't yet release it because of the risk that pirates could use it to adapt their tactics.

"Once it's public, then you have a game theory problem," said Hansen. "The very existence of the dissemination of information will change the behavior of the players you are trying to simulate."

One piracy expert says new technology like PARS may repel pirates in the short-term, but the only solution is dealing with the failed state where they make their home.

"It's a political and economic problem," said Martin Murphy, a visiting fellow at King's College in London and author of "Somalia, The New Barbary? Piracy and Islam in the Horn of Africa." "Technology is only ever going to be an aid, not a magic bullet."

With more pressing conflicts around the world, Murphy says that the political will to deal with the chaos in Somalia doesn't currently exist. That lack of interest in Somalia and modern-day piracy may change -- at least for movie-goers. Columbia Pictures just purchased the rights to a film about Richard Phillips, the Maersk Alabama captain who fought off Somali pirates in 2009. Hollywood hero Tom Hanks has been enlisted to play Phillips; Kevin Spacey will produce.

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