Applied Mathematicians & Meteorologists Join The Piracy Debate

We have seen solutions for piracy come from all corners of the world from expensive non-lethal weapons more often used by police forces, and OEM solutions from the world’s largest shipyards to mannequins armed with toy guns. Even lasers are being tested. Are we looking in the wrong place? Might their be a simpler, less aggressive strategy?

Boing Boing thinks so and has shared the work of applied mathematician James Hansen in a post titled “Math Versus Pirates“. They write:

Pirate Dingy And GunboatThe project combines data on wind, waves and currents with intelligence gathered by informants, surveillance and other means on pirate habits: how far their small skiffs can travel; their assault tactics; the timing of forays.

Running the model yields maps that show the highest-risk areas. Adding real-time information on ship traffic can identify possible pirate targets.

“It’s sort of like tornado warnings,” Hansen said. Everyone may know the probability of tornadoes spikes during the spring in Oklahoma. But what residents want to know is whether a twister is likely headed their way today.

The pirate model may be able to provide ship captains and security forces with that level of alert, by combining statistical odds with on-the-ground observations. Weather is clearly important to pirates, who can’t operate in rough seas, Hansen pointed out. “These guys are running around in tiny ships.”

(Via Ross Ballantyne & Mara Grunbaum)