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Situational Awareness and Logistics

Screenshot from SeaVision, a global maritime domain awareness tool developed, maintained, and operated by the Situational Awareness and Logistics Division (U.S. DOT Volpe Center image)
A screenshot from SeaVision, a global maritime domain awareness tool developed, maintained, and operated by the Situational Awareness and Logistics Division (U.S. DOT Volpe Center image)

About Us

The U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s Situational Awareness and Logistics Division researches, develops, implements, and analyzes advanced systems to protect, enhance, and ensure resilience of the global supply chain.

Our team of maritime domain awareness and logistics experts, made up of computer engineers, electronics engineers, analysts, and IT specialists, develops logistics and situational awareness information systems. 

We enhance the safety and stability of the world’s seas by developing and deploying state-of-the-art, easy-to-use, cost-effective vessel tracking networks that enhance maritime situational awareness in waterways around the world. Our work also consists of the development of enterprise-level multi-modal and supply chain logistics applications and software suites, supporting domestic and international cargo movement operations. 

Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government awarded the team with the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award for enhancing levels of safety and economic stability in the global seas. The team also recently received the Award for Excellence in the Field of Maritime Domain Awareness from the National Maritime Intelligence-Integration Office (NMIO) for interagency collaboration between DOT and DOD and the critical role of the Maritime Safety and Security Information System (MSSIS) in achieving significant enhancements to Maritime Domain Awareness, safety, and security worldwide. Also, in a rare gesture, the Panama Canal Pilots Association awarded honorary membership to three U.S. DOT Volpe Center engineers in recognition of their outstanding contributions. 

Some highlights of our work include:

  • Developing, operating, and maintaining MSSIS, an intergovernmental, freely shared, unclassified, near real-time, global data aggregation and dissemination system, based on automatic identification system (AIS) technology. It is used by more than 75 nations to track 70,000+ vessels worldwide.
  • Developing, operating, and maintaining SeaVision, a global maritime domain awareness tool that enables users to visualize and analyze global vessel traffic and individual vessel movement history.
  • Designing and deploying an AIS based data network, dramatically improving navigation safety and traffic management through real-time vessel locations and waterway information broadcasts. This system is currently in use at the Saint Lawrence Seaway to help reduce transit time and fuel consumption, provide faster accident response times, and allow for improved coordination of ship inspections. 
  • Developing, delivering, and hosting an annual global maritime domain awareness workshop, training more than 120 navy and coast guard officials from 18 countries. The training focuses on the use, operation, installation, and maintenance of MSSIS, SeaVision, and the AIS systems to help nations combat illicit maritime activities.
  • Participating as maritime domain awareness information systems experts since 2010 in the U.S. Navy’s annual Obangame Express exercise. The U.S. DOT Volpe Center team provides SeaVision training and promotes the importance of maritime information sharing. In addition, this maritime exercise includes visit, board, search, and seizure techniques that can increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa.
  • Developing a unique application that enables the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service to better monitor vessel speed compliance at designated Seasonal Management Zones. The application helps save the endangered North American right whale where collisions with vessels are a leading cause of death.
  • Developing a first-of-its-kind multi-modal military supply chain logistics enterprise-level software suite and associated applications, including mobile, which standardizes and supports the allocation, assignment, analysis, tracking and visualization of military cargo movements, both domestically and internationally.
  • Maintaining and operating the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s Maritime Situational Awareness Lab, which is used to prototype, develop, and test maritime information systems that are deployed globally and in use by more than 75 nations on a daily basis to maintain situational awareness of maritime operations. The systems developed have been used by government agencies around the world for drug interdiction, rescue of mariners, fisheries enforcement, and the protection of endangered species.
  • Deploying and maintaining an advanced pilot navigation software and Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS) for the Columbia River Pilots in Portland, OR. The system’s network of shore side AIS stations enables waterway users the ability to track and monitor all AIS equipped vessels along the 75 miles stretch of the Columbia River, from downtown Portland to Astoria and more than 100 miles out to sea. VTIS enhances the safety and efficiency for all vessels operating on the Columbia River by providing an all-weather navigation capability and enhanced situational awareness.
  • Partnering with Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) in establishing North American Treaty Organization’s (NATO) White Shipping Picture Standard Operations Procedures where it is a requirement to improve nations’ AIS data sharing contribution to MSSIS.

See MSSIS in action

Our Capabilities

Engineering and Technology Deployment to Enhance Transportation

  • Develop and deploy information systems to facilitate efficient movement of people and goods, ensure global security, and reduce transportation system congestion
  • Develop and implement operational management and associated information technology to enhance regional, national, and international global supply chains
  • Design, develop, fabricate, test, evaluate, and maintain advanced radio navigation and computer information systems related to global vessel and asset tracking
  • Design, develop, test, evaluate, and maintain military supply chain tracking and analysis mobile applications, as well as associated interfaces for data exchange

Systems and Infrastructure Modernization and Optimization

  • Research, analyze, and develop systems for improving maritime navigation and safety
  • Provide subject matter and enterprise-level software development expertise for the support of domestic and international military supply chains
  • Provide prototype evaluation and implementation support of new processes, procedures, and technologies

Meet Our Team

View selected staff biographies.

Brendon Providence

Acting Chief, Situational Awareness and Logistics 

Eric York WallischeckBrendon Providence is a dedicated member of the U.S. DOT Volpe Center team in Cambridge, MA. He has been with U.S. DOT since 2007, serving on the Maritime Safety and Security Information System team and the original software developer and creator of SeaVision, a Google Maps-based software improving global maritime domain awareness, underscoring his capacity for impactful contributions to his field.

During his career, Providence has showcased technologies to high-profile officials, mentored the next generation of the Maritime Domain Awareness team, and led significant initiatives, including managing maritime information technology project budgets. He is an experienced project manager with diverse skills in business development, communication, mentorship, and strategic planning. His work has directly enhanced the efficiency of federal agencies through technical and process improvements. 

Throughout his tenure, Providence, along with his team, has received numerous awards for his outstanding contributions, including the Harvard Kennedy’s School’s Ash Institute Award for Innovation. His commitment to innovation and his international impact is further evidenced by his involvement in projects like Africa Partnership Station Outreach, in conjunction with U.S. Navy Africa, where he leads the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s efforts in joint naval exercises in multiple African countries. 

Beyond his professional endeavors, Providence is an adventurer and an athlete. He is an avid hiker, snowboarder, and plays a lot of basketball. Providence is frequently seeking adventures across the White Mountains in New Hampshire and abroad. He also actively engages in volunteer work, contributing to initiatives such as Walk For Hunger and Thacher Island Association's solar-powered Internet-based security and monitoring camera system program.

Providence holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Tufts University (Medford, MA).