We told you , a few months back, about how MP3 players connected to long-range acoustic devices are being used to thwart pirate attacks. While blasting deafening sound waves at a bunch of machinegun-toting lunatics seems great, wouldn’t it be better to avoid the pirates altogether?

Well, UNOSAT, a collaborative project between CERN and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, is exploring how grid computing and satellite imaging can be used to help ships monitor, track and avoid pirates on the high seas. By producing maps that show where recent attacks and incidents have occurred, the organization hopes that it will help sailors safely navigate pirate-infested waters.

An article in International Science Grid This Week explains, “Typically, computer-intensive UNOSAT raw images are transferred to EGEE, where programs heavily compress satellite images for transmission over low-bandwidth connections, allowing users to access the latest maps from devices as simple as mobile phones. This way, merchant ships can avoid areas where recent assaults have been reported, and military vessels will know where to deploy.”

Pirates are an elusive bunch, though, and their mobility makes it easy for them to evade capture. At the end of last month the United Nations Interregional Crime And Justice Institute held a meeting to discuss new approaches to dealing with the persistent problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Who would have thought a cell phone and an iPod could be the most useful tech devices to have on board while sailing through treacherous seas?