For national interest and security: DOST, NSC sign MOA to strengthen terrestrial, maritime surveillance

Published May 19, 2021, 6:57 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the National Security Council (NSC) have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to strengthen the country’s terrestrial and maritime monitoring.

(Screenshot from DOST-ASTI Facebook)

DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña said they have been working closely with numerous local and international agencies to deliver and share the much-needed science and technology knowledge and innovation to aid in crucial decision-making for the benefit of Filipino people.

“Our colleagues from the National Security Council are no strangers to this cause, and that is why today, the DOST and NSC will take another step forward and towards a new collaboration to ensure the interest and security of our nation. From this day onward, the Council and the Department have officially committed to endeavor on one of our projects geared towards terrestrial and maritime monitoring, the SAR with AIS Project (Synthetic Aperture Radar and Automatic Identification System for Innovative Terrestrial Monitoring and Maritime Surveillance),” he said before the virtual signing of the MOA held on Wednesday.

Under the MOA, the DOST and NSC are expected to cooperate in the implementation and operationalization of the SAR with AIS project which aims to improve terrestrial and maritime surveillance of high priority areas in the country through simultaneous use of SAR and AIS data.

De la Peña noted that the SAR with AIS has afforded data-tasking capacity of NovaSAR-1, a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) with an AIS for all-day imaging and ship detection, respectively.

“The project enables us to conduct simultaneous ship detection on our waters as well as generate vital maps on different environmental and disaster applications,” he said.

He said the cooperation would focus mainly on acquiring and processing of valuable SAR and AIS data, with the high hopes of contributing to the monitoring and enhancement of our terrestrial and maritime domain awareness.

SAR with AIS project leader Alvin E. Retamar said the SAR and AIS data can also be used for disaster management, agricultural and environmental monitoring, land cover classification, among many other applications.

“We are happy to report that as of this month, within 21 months of service (from August 2019 to May 2021, we have actually captured a total of 188,9993,834 square kilometres, if we put that into context, that’s roughly 84 times total area of the Philippine exclusive economic zone,” he said.

He said from August 2019 to March 2021, they have so far gathered 118,972,139 AIS packets , which corresponds to 82,660 vessels.

“Under the agreement, DOST and NSC will collaborate in the research and development initiatives of the project with both agencies providing each other with relevant data and infrastructure to support the endeavor,” according to a briefer provided by the DOST.

Funded by the DOST’s Grants-in-Aid Program, the SAR with AIS Project focuses on terrestrial monitoring and maritime surveillance on high priority areas through simultaneous radar image and automatic identification system (AIS) data acquisition through the NovaSAR-1 satellite developed by United Kingdom-based Surrey Satellite Technology, Ltd.

The agency’s Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) serves as the hub for the project activities.

The MOA was signed by de la Peña, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., NSC Director General Ma. Victoria Castro and DOST-ASTI Director Franz A. de Leon.