Frequently Asked Questions

What is Skylight?

Skylight is a tool for surfacing suspicious events in the maritime domain. Skylight is focused on addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, but can be applied to many types of maritime crimes. Skylight was developed to enable maritime analysts to identify suspicious vessel behavior and alert authorities who can investigate, and take enforcement and compliance action when necessary. We strive to help analysts focus their time on the most suspicious activities in their domain rather than analyzing all vessels and vessel tracks. Because our focus is on surfacing anomalous activity, the Skylight visualization presents events rather than the last known positions of vessels.

How is Skylight accessed?

Skylight is accessible in two ways. The first is a web-based application that any account with internet access can reach. The second is via an Application Programming Interface (API) that can connect the Skylight system with other maritime domain awareness tools.

What browser does the Skylight application work on?

The Skylight application works best when accessed on the most recent version of Chrome, Safari, Edge, or FireFox.

What are Skylight events and alerts?

Skylight events are automatically generated events that may be of interest to a user. Some events are generated globally without any action by the user (e.g. Standard and Dark Rendezvous events). Other events require user configuration or input before they start to be generated (e.g. Entry events, Dark Detection events).

Alerts are events that are notified to a user via email or in-app. Users decide what types of events should be alerts when they create alerts. Alerts require users to select an area of interest and optionally select filter conditions that make a subset of those events particularly suspicious. Without setting up alerts, users will only view events on the map without any additional notification.

What data sources does Skylight use?

Skylight uses Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (satellite radar or “SAR”). AIS is necessary for all of its real-time and near-real time monitoring, whereas satellite radar carries a delay.

Is Skylight data real-time?

Skylight receives real-time AIS data from SPIRE, so elements like the Last Known Positions of vessels are updated immediately (within seconds or minutes in most cases). These events need some time before the model has confidence that the event is occurring:

  • Standard Rendezvous: the algorithm requires the vessels to be together for at least 30 minutes
  • Dark Rendezvous: the algorithm requires at least 15 minutes of rendezvous activity and the event may be delayed for 45 minutes after the detection

These events are near real-time:

  • Entry events: these are computed hourly so there can be up to 60 minutes delay between the entry detection and its display or alert
  • Tracks view: we recommend looking for changes in the tracks view no sooner than an hourly basis
  • Dark Detection events from Satellite Radar: on average, there is a 6 hour delay between when a satellite radar collection occurs and when it is available to view on Skylight.
  • Port visits: these are updated once daily

When you are on the main map, there is a bar at the top that informs how long it has been since the map has refreshed. The map must be refreshed in order to see new events.

How do I get access to Skylight?

Skylight is available through partners like the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, National Geographic Pristine Seas, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. If you have not reached this page through the introduction of a partner, please reach out to about your interest and we will contact you with next steps.