User Focus and Simulation Improve Predictions of Piracy Risk
Slootmaker, Leslie A.
Hansen, James A.
Lucas, Thomas W.
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Piracy is an increasingly costly and violent threat to commercial shipping and other vessels off the Horn of Africa. However, because pirates operate in small vessels that cannot navigate or attack in high seas or winds, pirate activity is highly sensitive to environmental conditions. The US Naval Oceanographic Office provides an operational forecast of the pirate threat; counterpiracy forces use this forecast to allocate their efforts over several million square miles. The most recent version uses simulation to model the effects of pirate behavior in interaction with winds, waves, and currents over time to forecast the geographic distribution of the pirate threat. As part of the development of the pirate behavior model, one author traveled to Bahrain to interview counter- piracy forces. We then used carefully designed simulation experiments to identify the variables that are most influential in determining the distribution of predicted pirate activity. The results confirmed the importance of elements of the pirate behavior model that were derived from our operator interviews, informed decisions regarding operational settings for key parameters, and generated insights to guide future updates to the model and intelligence-gathering efforts. The resulting model uses our recommendations, including alternate pirate search patterns. It has been operational since March 2011 and is briefed daily to the senior leadership of US Naval Forces Central Command.
The article of record as published may be found at https://doi.org/10.1287/inte.2013.0678
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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