Designer: Center for Strategic and International Studies (United States); Location: East and South China Seas; Years: 2014–present

Island Tracker is an innovative, public-facing online tool, part of the Center’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative that uses easily attained commercial satellite imagery to record activity in the South China Seas—one of the world’s most disputed waterways. The Tracker documents artificial island building and construction projects, such as new airstrips and ports, in the almost 70 disputed reefs and islands to which China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam lay claim. By increasing transparency in these remote locations, the tracker helps to prevent miscalculations and discourages assertive behavior, instead generating opportunities for collective actions that support regional stability.

Image: An interactive online map identifies rocks, reefs, and submerged shoals in the South China Sea and the nations that claim them; CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative / Maxar Technologies