The Information Fusion Center based in Singapore is one of the key hubs for regional and global maritime security. It’s primary function is information sharing to increase maritime domain awareness in the Southeast Asian region. Yet, it has also been quite pro-active in organizing a community of global maritime security practitioners that assists in this task.
From 5th to 9th of September I had the pleasure to contribute to the IFC’s work at one of its key community building programme – the Regional Maritime Practitioner Programme (RMPP). RMPP is an annual one week event gathering mid-level representatives from navies, coastguards, and the shipping industry from around the world. This year’s edition saw over 80 participants from maritime security agencies from Europe, the Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific.
At the event I led two sessions and chaired a roundtable. In the first session I provided an introduction to maritime security thinking, by introducing the SafeSeas models of maritime security and the history of maritime security thinking. I concluded in arguing that the contemporary maritime security debate is driven by a dual trend of thinking in spheres of influence and geopolitics on the one hand, and planetary thinking, the climate change and biodiversity agenda on the other. The session concluded with a discussion on how we can prioritize maritime security issues, while considering the interlinkages between them.
The second session focused on the importance of information sharing and the barriers that need to be overcome to make it effective. I discussed the key rationale for information sharing and maritime domain awareness and then introduced the challenges linked to it. These are firstly, technical challenges, were the main difficulty lies in how to network the high number of networks. More pressing are socio-political challenges, linked to organization identity, concerns over privacy, or the costs of information sharing. In the following discussion we investigated how these barriers can be overcome, through trust, institutional will, standards and procedures, or reduced costs.
The roundtable provided a flight through the key emerging maritime security challenges in Southeast Asia with a focus on terrorism, narcotic smuggling, irregular migration and cyber security.