Enhancing Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA)

For countries to prevent or extinguish maritime threats including emerging future threats, they must be aware of what is happening,

Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) is central to effective maritime security responses or operations. For countries to prevent or extinguish maritime threats including emerging future threats, they must be aware of what is happening, developments and activities taking place in the seas and oceans.

Basically, MDA involves gaining understanding of the position and intention of actors in a given maritime domain at a particular time. With advances in sensors and computing technology MDA has improved greatly especially in areas of information gathering, analysis and information sharing.

Following the growing awareness of the importance of MDA as an essential enabler of maritime security the policy imperatives of achieving MDA are getting strong. While the concept of operations to put this to fruition is already evolving, the technical challenges to achieving the requisite degree of MDA to ensure effective maritime security are weighty, because MDA is a broad area.

Compounding the challenge is the perspective from which MDA is viewed. From the operator’s perspective for instance, MDA is a collection, fusion, dissemination and action, or focus on data: data mining, data fusion, and data display. Even though this operational paradigm is helpful these requirements do not easily link with technical capabilities. However, present thinking is to map these operational needs into capabilities for effective functionality, which entails the process of identifying the functional requirements and the technical capabilities needed to achieve maritime domain awareness.

In discussing the functional requirements and technical capabilities needed to achieve maritime domain awareness real time in the region, attention will be given to seeking solutions however by first identifying what is it we need to achieve effective or comprehensive MDA? Second, what tools do we need to achieve MDA? Knowing this will help in developing the policy framework on improving the Maritime information sharing centres in Pointe-Noire; Douala, and Cotonou as well as their operational integration into a larger architecture; in addition to addressing the following critical questions: Among whom should information be shared? What type of information and data should be shared? And how is the information interpreted to gain shared understanding of the situation at sea?

US Navy

Will be leading the discussion on this theme at the conference