ANAIS project: Navigating the digital ocean in start-up mode

Expert opinion

Charles, Corvette Captain, ANAIS intrapreneur, responsible for AI issues and Deputy Chief Digital Officer, Naval Staff
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A grain of sand in the gears of global maritime traffic


Storm in a canal: a grain of sand, a human error, or a technical problem seizes up 10% of international trade for a week. The Ever Given's grounding illustrates both the weight of shipping lanes in international supply chains and the vulnerability of major routes to strategic hotspots like the Suez Canal.

However, maritime routes are also digital routes and even, to a large extent, digital routes since the submarine cables follow the main maritime routes. The challenge of controlling maritime space therefore extends to the physical and digital worlds. It is a complex, changing universe that is difficult to unify due to the multiplicity of actors who operate within it and the moving network of physical, digital, financial and human flows that cross it.

Mastering the maritime space requires being able to anticipate and cross-reference the contextual elements specific to an area of interest to assess both the risks and the opportunities in order to finely guide one's action and be resilient. This requires mastery of maritime information and therefore maritime data: they are massive and constantly increase with the progression of trade and activities at sea. Indeed, the marine environment is also an ocean of extremely varied data, a ship is a digital object: oceanographic data, maps, weather, ship transponders, radar data, satellites (radar, image, etc.), acoustic data, fishing zones, maritime routes, etc. Moreover, these data are not limited to the sea since the activities linked to maritime activities largely spill over into activities on land. Mastering this digital scope is therefore a major challenge.


Combining adaptation capacity and resilience in the digital ocean


The Navy has a particular responsibility in preserving our maritime space, the second largest in the world. It does this through its operational resources, through the know-how of its crews and through a culture of adaptation to a constantly evolving environment. Indeed, faced with the unpredictability of the ocean and the accelerated digitalization of the maritime world, innovation is necessary. This is why the Navy is currently experimenting with both a tool and an innovative project development method with the launch of the ANAIS State Start Up (Analysis of Maritime Situation Inconsistencies).

As for the method, ANAIS is a state start-up; in our case, an approach carried out by an “intrapreneur” officer supported by the Naval Staff. It is supported by the system run by the Interministerial Digital Directorate (DINUM.) in partnership with the Digital Factory of the Joint Directorate of Infrastructure Networks and Information Systems (DIRISI) and the support of the Digital Agency. Defense Innovation (AID).

As a tool, ANAIS is currently a sovereign platform capable of analyzing vessel traffic on a global scale in real time and identifying inconsistencies or dangerous behavior using light AI algorithms. The application is accessible in the Cloud to ships, planes and land centers of the French Navy and its state partners. Gradually, this platform is enriched with open maritime data, particularly environmental data, making it possible to refine the understanding of the context and the analyses. The operator's expertise is highlighted: he can intuitively adjust the tool according to the operational needs specific to his current mission and concentrate on high added value tasks. Reacting more quickly and in a more relevant way when faced with a complex situation and a flood of information is a guarantee of resilience.


A first measurable operational impact that sheds light on the question of digital sovereignty


The first results of operational experimentation are encouraging. ANAIS analyzes 10 million ship positions per day in real time and is used by numerous units: frigates, patrol boats, maritime patrol aircraft, shore operational centers, semaphores, etc.

In addition, the tool has been tested inter-administratively since the 2020 Interministerial Committee for the Sea, which has made it possible to initiate convergence around the approach. Finally, ANAIS was selected by the France Relance jury for the “Develop the use of data in your administration” section. This contribution from the Recovery Plan will be used to consolidate the project and diversify the data integrated into the tool.

More broadly, this dynamic contributes to gradually broadening the vision. It would indeed be possible in the future, while retaining the current “tactical” tool geared towards operational use, to develop a scientific and collaborative dimension.

Indeed, the challenge is the development of maritime artificial intelligence, by opening a lighter version of the tool to an innovative ecosystem (State, academic world, industry) in order to promote, scale up, test and implement making new data and algorithms available to the operational community. Indeed, developing AI in a relevant way requires bringing together expertise and data around concrete projects with a cross-sector vision within a balanced ecosystem with a state barycenter.


The digital ocean is also a digital territory[1]


Efficiency and resilience are both human and technical, physical and digital.

Ultimately, such a maritime platform serving operational efficiency at sea, highlighting innovation and promoting collaboration between maritime players would be a determining factor in network resilience. It would also have a balancing effect by ultimately developing a true state, sovereign and trust-based “platform strategy” geared towards a logic of the common good. Which could be viable because the “value chain” of such a system is contained both in the trust that one can have in the platform – fundamental in the maritime world – in the data and algorithms it contains and in the user maritime community, which would be first-rate.

The issue would therefore go far beyond the simple technical dimension. This is a fundamental question of digital sovereignty on a “maritime digital territory” that has become essential for the control of the physical maritime territory, the defense of natural resources and the preservation of freedom of movement at sea.


[1] Digital Territoriality, a joint exploratory concept of CN AI and CN cybersecurity



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