Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) | UPSC

Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) | UPSC


Coastal security, after 26/11

      WHY IN NEWS:

  • On the anniversary of the Mumbai attacks, the Defence Minister spoke of a security cover now in place that tracks suspicious activities at sea.
  • A look at how an organisation called IMAC coordinates this effort
MINISTRY? :- Ministry of Defence
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : Internal Security


For PRELIMS it is important to understand what is IMAC , how does it function and its significance.

For MAINS go through way forward where we mention few drawbacks and imporovements.


Defence Minister said that “today, the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Police have prepared such a three-tier security cover in the coastal areas of the country



  • The Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) was approved in 2012 and operationalized in 2014.

Located at the Gurugram Air Force Station it is the nodal centre that links information from the high seas and Indian’s coastline and island territories.

  •  The Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean region (IFC–IOR), was set up in the IMAC in 2018, as a regional information coordination body.
  • IFC-IOR coordinates with 21 partner countries and 22 multi-national agencies.


  • The need to set up such a surveillance and information management system was felt following the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

IMAC tracks only non-military shipping, whereas the Directorate of Naval Operations tracks military vessels on another classified network.

  • A multi-agency center named as National Maritime Domain Awareness centre (NDMA centre) is also being considered.

Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) | UPSC


  • IMAC, based in Gurgaon, was established in November 2014.
  • It is the nodal centre for maritime security information collation and dissemination.
  • It is jointly operated by the Navy and Coast Guard.

It is the cornerstone of the National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network for monitoring India’s maritime traffic.

  • IMAC’s task is to facilitate exchange of maritime security information among various national stakeholders.
  • It also generates a common operational picture.

Since “threats in maritime domain have a transnational” ,IMAC feeds data from international sources as well.

  • It is important to note that IMAC tracks only non-military or commercial ships, known as white shipping.
  • Military ships, or grey hull ships, are tracked by the Directorate of Naval Operations, as this is on a classified network.


  • The ten Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists who carried out the 26/11 attacks had entered Mumbai through the sea, using inflatable speedboats.

In the aftermath of the attacks, “several vulnerabilities of coastal security came to the fore”. 

  • The Indian Navy is responsible for overall maritime security (coastal and offshore) .
  • It is supposed to be assisted in coastal security by the Coast Guard, State Marine Police and other agencies.


  • IMAC focuses on ships passing through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • At its headquarters, officers can look at all ships that transmit signals to an Automatic Identification System (AIS) when passing through IOR.

They can look at information including route, destination, nationality and ownership for each vessel.

  • The IOR, 5500 nautical miles wide by 7500 nm long, includes 35 countries.
  • It is the busiest maritime trade route, with 11,000 to 12,000 ships present in it at any given time.

The insights drawn from the data, sources said there has been a “steady rise” of Chinese research vessels in the IOR over the last few years.

  • These fishing activities are concentrated in the Central Arabian Sea and Southwest Indian Ocean.


IMAC has linkages with a number of national and international organisations.

  • It collates data, analyses patterns, and alerts relevant authorities if anything is found suspicious.


  • 51 nodes across the country run by the Navy or the Coast Guard.

There are 46 stations in the Coastal Radar Chain that have radars, optical and meteorological sensors

  • The Vessel and Air Traffic Management System under the Petroleum Ministry.
  • The National Automatic Identification System, which has 87 stations.
  • Post 26/11, the government has made it mandatory for all vessels longer than 20 m to have an AIS that transmits its identification and other information.
  • In addition to the international regulation that AIS is compulsory for any vessel heavier than 300 gross tonnage.


  • The Long-Range Identification and Trading Information from 174 countries is under the Directorate General of Shipping.
  • India’s White Shipping Information Exchange Agreements with 36 countries and three multinational constructs.

Space-based AIS that provide information on offshore and deep sea vessels, sanctioned vessels list, additional databases, intelligence inputs.

  • The Indian Ports Authority, information from which has been integrated recently.
  • These data are then analysed with various tools that create a comprehensive picture for each vessel visible as a dot on the screen.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 


  • When a vessel does not transmit any information about itself through the AIS, it is known as a dark ship.
  • There are limited options to track them.
  • While some big vessels may choose to not transmit on AIS.
  • Many of India’s smaller shipping vessels have no transponders.

Around 2.9 lakh fishing vessels in India, around 60% are smaller than 20 m, most of them without transponders.

  • The AIS is a one-way beacon transmitting the unique vessel ID similar to ADS-B on aircraft, is only installed on larger fishing vessels due to its size, weight and cost .
  • The technology “doesn’t allow fishermen to report emergencies at sea nor communicate with the shore.
  • Also it does not allow the vessel to receive any data back from the Navy or Coast Guard.
  • ISRO has been trying to develop a solution for fishing vessel tracking over the last one decade.
     SOURCES:  IE  | Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) | UPSC



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