Sometime in 2010, two former Israeli navy officers came together to start a company that was aimed at bringing visibility to the historically opaque maritime domain. The company, Windward, set out to convince people that the avalanche of maritime data available did not translate into visibility. They applied data sciences powered by deep shipping expertise to make sense of the big data in maritime, making it accessible and actionable across industries.
Like many entrepreneurs in specialised lines of business, the insight to get started on this unique business proposition came largely through cognate experience. In their almost a decade of naval sea fare, they found out that the maritime analytics available with the explosion in satellite data and technology were huge, very fragmented and sometimes deliberately manipulated. That is where they found the market gap, an opportunity to create value.
In setting up the company, one of their first products was the Windward Mind – the only analytics platform in the world which aggregates and vets global maritime data real-time, to provide the most accurate view of what’s actually happening at sea. They have mapped the behavioural routine of each ocean-going vessel worldwide. A full history of the routes each ship has taken, ports it has visited, jetties where it has loaded cargo etc. this unprecedented visibility, unique data and insights is what they offer clients – from security agencies seeking to identify threats to financial institutions looking for risk mitigation and untapped financial opportunities at sea. Snapshots of their systems include:
- Windward has built the world’s first maritime data platform, the Windward Mind, which analyses and organises the world’s maritime data from a variety of sources, including automatic information system (AIS) data and other private, public and commercial data, to create a one-stop shop for accessible information on maritime activity.
- Its product MarInt (maritime intelligence solution) uses commercial satellites to continuously monitor the movements of all seagoing vessels all over the world at all times – an ability that has never before been possible on a commercial level. More important, using algorithms, MarInt can analyse the behaviour of those vessels in real time, and pinpoint the ones that behave suspiciously.
- Some ships have a strong financial interest in hiding their location and disguising their activities. As just one example, AIS hacking has now been used by shipping and commercial organisations attempting to gain a competitive edge in the commodities market. It’s a real “cat and mouse” game out there, and significant and persistent investment is needed in order to stay ahead of ever-changing hacking methods and trends.
- Windward is seeing a lot of interest in its unique data and analytics across industries. They are pressing ahead with potential applications beyond just security and intelligence, to financial markets, commodities, etc. They are positioned to become the definitive source for maritime information across the entire ecosystem.
The elegance of the Windward solutions reminds us that with a touch of entrepreneurial insight, incumbents and experienced personnel can bring effective innovation in specialised industries. At a glance, we can have an idea of other players in different aspects of the maritime intelligence ecosystem (see some highlighted below):
ClipperData: Provides datasets, analysis and commentary on global crude and refined product movements. They have the capacity to track movements on a vessel-by-vessel basis, but also cargo-by-cargo, and dock-to-dock.
IHS Markit: Has a much broader activity portfolio. They offer a unique combination of information analytics and expertise, that enables smarter, better decision making in everything from day-to-day operations to long-term investments.
Genscape: Also a global commodity and energy markets player, Genscape has added satellite reconnaissance, artificial intelligence, and maritime freight tracking to its data acquisition capabilities.
- Windward is an innovative Israeli privately-owned maritime data and analytics company shedding light on what’s really happening on the seas.
- Launched in 2010 by Israeli ex-naval officers Ami Daniel and Matan Peled, it has attracted over $17.35 million in funding.
- Headquartered in Tel Aviv, Windward integrates multiple data points (over 200 million a day) to create vessel stories which tell the unique tale of a given ship’s location and behaviour.