Maritime Domain Awareness

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