Coast Guard Station South Padre Island crewmembers pat down a Mexican fisherman after he and others were caught north of the U.S. maritime boundary line May 1, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Kendrick)

DHS Coastal Surveillance System Has Evolved Into Information Sharing Platform

DHS S&T created its Integrated Maritime Domain Enterprise-Coastal Surveillance System (IMDE-CSS) to give maritime responders better surveillance technology, but it has evolved into a crucial information-sharing capability.

Data sharing has been a mission for DHS S&T  — when different agencies have access to the same data, their ability to coordinate operations becomes far more efficient. IMDE-CSS gives not only greater surveillance capability to responders, but it’s also proven in technical demonstrations that it can connect system owners so that they are faster responding to distress calls and interdicting and processing criminal activity.

The IMDE concept has already fared well with U.S. Coast Guard and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Air and Marine Operations (AMO), and Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC) as an initial testbed.

“Because both the USCG and CBP operate in the maritime domain, a clear opportunity exists for more efficient collaboration between the organizations,” said Shawn McDonald, S&T IMDE program manager. “Where they have mostly relied on their own exclusive information systems, the next level of information sharing will allow them to synchronize resources for planning and response as well as securely share sensor data across their respective networks.”

IMDE has been dubbed as “middleware,” a concept where different entities have sought to link aspects of their operation under a single umbrella.

“IMDE would potentially reduce the amount of man-hours and hardware necessary to connect AMOC with different sensors and database information throughout the nation,” said Hidee Lehnert, program manager at AMOC.

Data sharing interfaces are a key point of focus if these systems are to work as operators from different agencies, at all levels; they need a solution that offers repeatable patterns for integrating new sources of information.

There is still work to be done in order to transition the technology with USCG and AMO. The Coast Guard is still reviewing options to employ IMDE services to enhance their own systems and position themselves to improve information sharing with DHS components and port partners.

“The prospect of unifying data systems between response agencies involves other federal, state, local, tribal, international, public and private partners that share in the coastal security interest,” McDonald said. “USCG and AMO are just the beginning.”

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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