Fact Sheet on Information Fusion Centre (IFC) and Launch of IFC Real-Time Information-Sharing System (IRIS)

Fact Sheet on Information Fusion Centre (IFC) and Launch of IFC Real-Time Information-Sharing System (IRIS)

About the Information Fusion Centre

Established on 27 April 2009, the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) is a regional Maritime Security (MARSEC) centre situated at the Changi Command and Control Centre (CC2C) and hosted by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). The IFC aims to facilitate information-sharing and collaboration between its partners to enhance MARSEC. Over the last decade, the IFC has been at the forefront of providing actionable information to cue responses by regional and international navies, coast guards and other maritime agencies to deal with the full range of MARSEC threats and incidents. This includes piracy, sea robbery, maritime terrorism, contraband smuggling, illegal fishing and irregular human migration.

The IFC's Focus Areas

Multinational collaborations. The IFC serves as an open and inclusive platform that brings together multinational and inter-agency collaboration to resolve common maritime security concerns. To date[1], 155 International Liaison Officers (ILOs) from 24 countries have been deployed to the IFC, and 19 ILOs from 18 countries currently serve alongside 12 RSN personnel. The IFC has 97 linkages from 41 countries, and is one of the four Technical Leading Navies of the Trans-Regional Maritime Network, which brings together the IFC's Open & Analysed Shipping Information System, Italy's Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Centre, Brazil's Maritime Traffic Information System and India's Maritime Surveillance Information System, to enhance global maritime information-sharing and cooperation. 

Capacity and confidence-building. As an information-sharing hub, the IFC fuses, sense-makes, and disseminates accurate and timely maritime security information to actively promote and shape positive habits of information-sharing in the region. This is done through various multilateral information-sharing portals hosted by the IFC, in support of regional and international frameworks. This includes the ASEAN Information Sharing Portal, the Western Pacific Naval Symposium's Regional Maritime Information eXchange, and the Malacca Straits Patrol Information System (MSP-IS). In addition, the IFC conducts capacity-building activities such as the Maritime Information-Sharing Exercises (MARISX) and workshops such as the annual Regional Maritime Security Practitioner Programme (RMPP). 

Action by the shipping community to adopt best practices. Strong linkages with the shipping community are enhanced through regular one-to-one visits to shipping companies and the Shared Awareness Meetings (SAMs) that the IFC conducts every quarter. The meetings are an important platform for the IFC to reach out, explain, and gather feedback on key maritime security issues and challenges faced by the shipping community. IFC also works with industry players to promote the exchange of best practices, such as Self-Protection Measures for the physical hardening of ships to hamper boarding efforts by pirates or sea robbers. Panel discussions are held for the shipping community to raise questions or challenges they face, and for enforcement agencies to address them. The IFC has also established a Voluntary Community Reporting (VCR) system for the shipping community to report maritime security incidents or anomalous behaviours out at sea. The VCR system was used to support the Search and Locate operations for the missing MH370 flight in 2014, by reaching out to its network of shipping companies to report any debris sightings that could help narrow down the search area. 

Examples of IFC's Contributions 
The IFC has facilitated strong collaboration amongst regional and extra-regional stakeholders to arrest maritime security incidents in the region. Through the IFC's contributions to maritime security in the region, and its efforts in fostering close cooperation between countries, piracy and sea robbery incidents have declined by 62% from 2015 (200 incidents) to 2018 (76 incidents). In the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, there has been a 92% drop in piracy and sea robbery incidents during the same period (104 in 2015 to 8 in 2018). Some examples are listed below:

a. Contraband trafficking[2]. The IFC had been tracking MV Sunrise Glory, which was suspected of contraband trafficking, for three months prior to its capture on 7 February 2018. Through the Indonesia ILO, IFC shared information about the vessel that led to its successful capture by the Indonesian Navy. MV Sunrise Glory was subsequently found to be carrying one tonne of crystal methamphetamine smuggled in rice sacks.

b. Hijacking[3]. In May 2016, the IFC was alerted that oil tanker MV Hai Soon 12 had lost communications for 12 hours. The IFC tracked the vessel via a secondary GPS tracker owned by the cargo owner and shared its location with the ILOs. With this information, the Indonesian Navy was able to mobilise its assets and recover the vessel. MV Hai Soon 12 was found to have been hijacked by nine armed perpetrators who intended to steal the Marine Gas Oil on board. All 21 crew members were safely accounted for.

IFC Real-time Information-sharing System (IRIS)

The IRIS is an upgraded web-based information-sharing system designed to enable rapid collaboration for maritime security through an internet-facing portal. The IRIS builds on IFC's decade of experience and expertise as a regional information-sharing hub, and integrates the various portals that IFC has developed over the years[4] to fuse and sense-make information more effectively:

a. Fused Recognised Maritime Picture. The IRIS provides a live recognised maritime picture by fusing information from different sources including the Automatic Identification System (AIS)[5], Long-Range Identification Tracking (LRIT)[6], partner navy and coast guards' operations centres, civilian agencies as well as from the shipping community through the VCR system. 

b. Enhance Real-time Collaboration. The IRIS will incorporate tools such as chat functions to provide a common platform across maritime stakeholders to facilitate collaboration during maritime security operations. Documents, pictures and videos can be easily shared and exchanged. 

c. Improve Accessibility. In addition to shore-based operations centres, the IRIS can be accessed through computers and mobile devices on board ships at sea. This will improve access to information, awareness of the maritime security situation and allow quick-cycle sharing of information. 

d. Improve User Experience. The IRIS has optimised user interface and enhanced graphics. Using new technologies and incorporating feedback from existing portals, the intuitive interface will allow for easier navigation and better user experience. 

IRIS was officially launched on 14 May 2019 in conjunction with the IFC's 10th Anniversary event. It has been trialled at several multilateral exercises such as the ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise in October 2018 and ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus Maritime Security Field Training Exercise in April 2019. 


[1] Figures updated caa 6 May 2019.

[2] As reported in: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/fishing-boat-seized-by-indonesia-for-smuggling-drugs-was-falsely-9952026; https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesian-navy-seizes-boat-with-one-tonne-of-crystal-meth-in-waters-off-batam 

[3] As reported in https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/oil-tanker-rescued-by-indonesia-navy-from-hijacking-reaches-surabaya 

[4] Examples include ASEAN Information Sharing Portal, the Western Pacific Naval Symposium's Regional Maritime Information eXchange and the Malacca Strait Patrol Information System.

[5] The Automatic Identification System is an automated tracking system that displays information of vessels in the vicinity, and can be used to identify, locate and monitor vessels.
[6] The Long-Range Identification and Tracking system collects and disseminates vessel position information to allow global identification and tracking of ships by the country they are registered with.

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