Friday, October 10, 2008
Bob started the program here at Mercyhurst some 16 years ago after a long career in the FBI as a Special Agent and, finally, as the Deputy Chief of Counter-terrorism. There are few people who have the depth of operational, intelligence and academic knowledge that he does. It makes him worth listening to on a number of different levels.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The Automatic Identification System (AIS to the naval types) is used to locate and identify ships. It is in place on a wide variety of ships, including virtually all cargo and passenger ships, and there are a number of sites on the web that track, in more or less real time, the world's movement of cargo and people over the water. It does not appear to be used by military vessels but I would appreciate some insight in the comments from any reader who spent more time on the water than I.
While the main Wikipedia article on AIS lists a number of regional free sites, like shipais.com, and there are some commercial services such as AIS Live and Ship Plotter, I was most impressed by those sites that at least attempted to cover the multiple regions of the world for free. The first, sailwx.info, works by clicking on the map to zoom in and zoom out. Data on the map is limited to general location and sometimes the name of the ship.
Even better is VesselTracker, which covers a large number of mostly European ports and contains better ship data (see screenshot below). VesselTracker also supports an apparently large group of people who like to take pictures of ships, so there is a good bit of additional information associated with the site as well.
My favorite, though, is MarineTraffic.com (sponsored by the University of the Aegean) which provides a live feed of many ships in ports around the world. The amount of data here is phenomenal and the pop-up shots of ships at sea often include details about the ship and a thumbnail picture of it. See the screen shot below but click on it to go to the site.
Finally, if you are more interested in what is inside those ships than where they are, the best source of this data is PIERS. It is a commercial service but I have had several chances to see their product in action and, if you need this kind of data, it is a one stop shop kind of place to get it.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Driven most obviously by the steady and substantial improvements in technology over the last 20 years, traditional models of intelligence have largely failed to keep up.
Beyond improvements in technology, however, I see the convergence of a number of trends that will fundamentally alter not only the way intelligence is done but could also change the common perception of who does it best.
The good people at ISN asked me to put all these thoughts into writing and you can see the results here.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Gizmodo recently featured a slow motion video on LiveLeak of an anti-personnel round fired from a tank. A few years ago I had a chance to see a re-enactment of some artillery action at the Waterloo battlefield. I can understand why infantry dreaded canister rounds then and the very end of this video shows why they are even more feared today.