The maritime domain continues to be easily exploited due to its porosity. It is apparent that no single country or agency is able to tackle the full range of maritime security issues on its own.
The Information Fusion Centre (IFC) was launched on 27 April 2009 and is located in Singapore’s Changi Command and Control Centre (CC2C). As a regional maritime info-sharing node, it aims to enhance the Asian-Pacific region’s maritime situation awareness by building a common and coherent maritime situation picture. With linkages to more than 45 agencies in 28 countries, it has been able to provide actionable information to its regional partners for further collaboration and to cue timely operational responses. The info-sharing collaboration has resulted in useful outcomes, for example during the MV Sun Sea incident from May-Aug 10.
One of the unique features at the IFC is the presence of the International Liaison Officers (ILOs). The ILOs serve as a Point of Contact to facilitate real-time info-sharing and coordination between the IFC and their parent (sending nation) agencies (customs, defence, immigration and etc). Collectively, this enables the pooling of resources and expertise to identify security trends and disseminate information in a timely manner to IFC’s partners, including the international shipping community. 24 ILOs from 12 countries have been deployed at the IFC to better facilitate the sharing of information.
The IFC uses various info-sharing platforms to enable collaborative interactions with its partners. These include the Malacca Strait Patrols Information System (MSP IS) for the four littoral countries in the Malacca Strait and the Regional Maritime Info-sharing Exchange (ReMIX) for the 24 countries in the Western Pacific Naval Symposium.
Ensuring Maritime Security requires the efforts, and more importantly the cooperation, of all the maritime stakeholders. The IFC has been actively engaging the shipping companies and shipping associations through activities such as the bi-monthly Shipping Shared Awareness Meeting (SAM). This meeting allows the IFC to reach out, explain, and collate feedback on key security issues and trends which the shipping community faces. The IFC also conducts company visits and administers a voluntary shipping reporting initiative to enable a two-way interaction with the commercial maritime community.