One of the key tools to gather the needed knowledge for maritime security is information sharing known as maritime domain awareness (MDA) or maritime situational awareness (MSA). MDA focuses on the broader picture, while MSA on concrete situations and operational needs.
Why MDA is important
Producing the needed knowledge is not an easy affair. It is more difficult than on land, not only because the sea is a vast and fluid space, but also since much less people are at sea. Several technologies, such as radar and satellite imagery assist in advancing MDA. Yet, a critical component is also the sharing and fusing information among state agencies, with non-state actors such as the shipping industry and also on a regional and transnational level.
Quite substantial investments have been made in MDA on national and regional levels, and improving MDA is often part of capacity building work. MDA is in many ways about technology, that is how to collect better data on maritime activities through surveillance, how to fuse data from different sources, and how to analyze the data with the help of algorithms and machine learning in order to identify hot spots and suspicious activities. Since it requires different actors to work closely together and share their insights, MDA is however also a socio-political challenge.
Articles on Maritime Domain Awareness
- A glue that withstands heat? The promise and perils of maritime domain awareness, in Maritime Security: Counter-Terrorism Lessons from Maritime Piracy and Narcotics Interdiction, eds. ER. Lucas, S. Rivera-Paez, T Crosbie & F. Falck Jensen, IOS Press, 235 – 245, 2020.
- Paving the Way for Regional Maritime Domain Awareness, eds. Christian Bueger and Jane Chan. Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technical University Singapore, 2019.
- Uniting nations: developing maritime domain awareness for the ‘Blue Pacific’, The Strategist, 8 May 2018.
- Effective Maritime Domain Awareness in the Western Indian Ocean. Policy Brief 104, June 2017, Institute for Security Studies: Pretoria.
- Knowing the Sea: The Prospects and Perils of Maritime Domain Awareness, Piracy-Studies.org Blog, July 2016.
- From Dusk to Dawn? Maritime Domain Awareness in Southeast Asia, Contemporary Southeast Asia 17(2): 157-182, 2015.
- Making things known: Epistemic Practice, the United Nations and the Translation of Piracy, International Political Sociology 9(1): 1-19, 2015.