Ministry for Primary Industries signs onto Starboard

News · 23 December 2021

Xerra awarded contract from Ministry for Primary Industries to support the risk assessment of arriving vessels by employing advanced data science and satellite data

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is one of the latest customers for space industry tech start-up Xerra Earth Observation Institute. The New Zealand based team launched Starboard® Maritime Intelligence in mid 2020. MPI has signed on to Starboard which is being used to support their risk assessment of vessels at our maritime borders. Starboard uses satellite data and advanced analytics models to risk assess vessels for biosecurity threats and Covid-19.

“MPI has been working with us since our first prototype was developed in late 2019. We’ve worked closely with analysts to understand the needs of Aotearoa, the challenges presented by arriving vessels, and to turn our data analysis and satellite data research into operational software which supports their teams” says Andy Hovey who is the Head of Product and Design for Starboard.

Starboard displays in near real-time if vessels heading towards our ports could pose a risk to New Zealand. For example, all commercial ships arriving into Aotearoa are assessed — based on satellite tracking data and global health data from Johns Hopkins University — for their relative risk of having Covid-19 onboard.

Vessels heading to Aotearoa with their relative risk assessment for Covid-19 automatically assigned

Another example is a risk assessment for hitchhiker pests — algorithms are used to analyse the travel history of cargo vessels allowing a ship’s risk of carrying insects such as Brown Marmorated Stink Bug to be displayed. “In the maritime domain, vessels arriving from international waters are the vectors of exotic pests, disease agents and unwanted organisms” says Dr Moritz Lehmann, Senior Scientist at Xerra, who is the lead on biosecurity work for Starboard.

The team behind Starboard are also collaborating domestically and internationally in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). IUU fishing is a global economic and environmental issue with estimates of up to 12 million tonnes (valued at $23.5 billion) in worldwide fishing losses.

More about Starboard Maritime Intelligence

Starboard marries advanced data science and multiple information sources with intuitive web-based software to deliver a secure common operating picture for the maritime domain. It supports governments, border security teams, NGOs, and fisheries organisations.

Starboard has been built by the team at Xerra, a research-based technology start-up. The team is made up of remote sensing and data scientists, software engineers and designers. Xerra was established with funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Starboard’s development is driven by a combination of new scientific research, harnessing new satellite technology, and user research with maritime experts.