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
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.
INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AND ANALYSIS CENTRE (IMAC)
- The Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) was approved in 2012 and operationalized in 2014.
- 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.
- A multi-agency center named as National Maritime Domain Awareness centre (NDMA centre) is also being considered.
WHAT IS IMAC?
- 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.
- IMAC’s task is to facilitate exchange of maritime security information among various national stakeholders.
- It also generates a common operational picture.
- 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.
WHY WAS THE NEED FELT?
- The ten Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists who carried out the 26/11 attacks had entered Mumbai through the sea, using inflatable speedboats.
- 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.
WHAT DOES IMAC LOOK AT?
- 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.
- 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.
- These fishing activities are concentrated in the Central Arabian Sea and Southwest Indian Ocean.
- It collates data, analyses patterns, and alerts relevant authorities if anything is found suspicious.
SOURCES FOR DATA
- 51 nodes across the country run by the Navy or the Coast Guard.
- 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.
IDENTIFICATION OF SHIPS
- 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.
- 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.
WHAT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE?
- 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.
- 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