DOTCAN aims to establish partnerships between Canada and West Africa in order to collaboratively develop human technical capacity, as well as foster equity and gender equality, promote clean and emerging ocean-related technologies, and promote maritime security. Maritime safety and security are natural prerequisites for any nation to achieve their sustainable Blue Economy goals; indeed, “there is no sustainable Blue Economy without maritime security”, that is DOTCAN’s mantra.
DOTCAN’s cross-Atlantic engagement of Maritime Security stakeholders as part of the WYTEC Blue project execution has led to the identification of a shared need for the development of technical and technological skills particularly in the areas of Technical Maritime Surveillance, Maritime Domain Awareness, Safety/Protection/Security, and leadership and management.
The goal of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) is to achieve an effective understanding of anything in the maritime environment that can affect the safety, security, economy, or environment (1).
MDA is key to Maritime Security and is described as(2) :
Sensors must capture inputs from the undersea, surface, and aerial subcomponents of the overarching maritime domain. Sensors should be multi-mission where possible.
Data gathered by sensors must be fused and analyzed by trained human operators with a keen understanding of specific regional dynamics and patterns of activity. Automated technologies can dramatically augment human operators but cannot replace the insights that humans are able to derive. This additional value is a key component of effective MDA.
Data and intelligence products are useless unless they can be disseminated to a broad range of consumers in a timely manner. An MDA network must move raw and processed data between a range of platforms. Such a network will require both technical solutions to protect it from non-kinetic attacks and political frameworks to move sensitive data among relevant contributors to regional MDA capabilities.
The true value of an MDA architecture is not in the amount of data it collects but, in its ability to provide policymakers with timely, relevant, and accurate information that assists officials to make critical decisions.
(1) Nimmich, J. L., & Goward, D. A. (2007). “Maritime Domain Awareness: The Key to Maritime Security” In International Law Studies – Volume 83, Global Legal Challenges: Command of the Commons, Strategic Communications, and Natural Disasters. https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/ils/vol83/iss1/6/
(2) Hicks, K. H., & Metrick, A. (2018). Maritime Domain Awareness: Today and Tomorrow. In Contested Seas: Maritime Domain Awareness in Northern Europe (pp. 12–21). Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). http://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep22447.7