The Asia PSNS Time Zone and World Wide Pubic Sector Services teams jointly participated in the 12th Annual Maritime Security & Coastal Surveillance conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in December 2015. Organized by IQPC Worldwide Pte Ltd, the meeting was attended by more than 250 senior military and naval officers as well as industry experts across Asia and the world. Naval forces and maritime security agencies across Asia are confronted with a growing number of nontraditional missions, and the conference participants discussed the changing maritime security environment and requirements for technological solutions and assets.

As part of the Microsoft sponsorship package, we had speaking slots in both plenary and stream (breakout) sessions. Michael Harper, General Manager of International Public Sector Services, gave the industry welcome address in the opening plenary session. His speech reinforced Microsoft’s position as a leader in providing operational communication and collaboration, mission-ready devices, cloud transformation, and data analytics/intelligence for defense organizations.

His talk followed engaging, relevant briefings by leading military officials across the Pacific. Admiral Dato’ Seri Panglima Ahmad Kamarulzaman Haji Ahmad Baharuddin, Chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy, spoke on “Enhancing Maritime Security in the Region: Increased Multilateral Cooperation between ASEAN Navies and Partners.” Rear Admiral Charlie Williams, Commander of the Logistics Group Western Pacific and Commander of Task Force Seven Three, US Navy, spoke on “Enhancing Maritime Security and Stability in the Asia Pacific Region: Promoting Multilateral Cooperation within the Region.”

After the plenary session the delegates were broken out into separate streams, and Steve Boyce, Director, International Public Sector Services, Justice and Public Safety, provided the industry perspective for the stream identified as Naval Procurement, Technologies, Capabilities and Requirements to Enhance Maritime Security Operations. His presentation, “Empowered by Digital: Bringing the Common Operating Picture into Sharper Focus in the Maritime Domain,” highlighted the relevance of Microsoft’s Maritime Domain Awareness System in the contemporary operating environment across the region’s littorals. I served as the event host and moderated the presentations and the Q&A sessions for that stream on day 1 and did so again for the Aerial and Naval Assets to Enhance Maritime Security and Coastal Surveillance stream on day 2.

Given the current challenges faced by the ASEAN members present at the conference both of the Microsoft presentation topics could not have been more current and relevant. This no doubt led to the steady flow of visitors we entertained at the Microsoft display booth. There, we showcased our existing solution demos, which attracted many senior delegates, including:

  • Admiral Dato’ Seri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Haji Ahmad Baharuddin, Chief of Navy, Royal Malaysian Navy
  • Vice Admiral Sucheep Whoungmaitree, Deputy Chief of Staff, Royal Thai Navy
  • Vice Admiral Caesar C. Taccad, Flag Officer in Command, Philippine Navy
  • Admiral Dato’ Haji Ahmad Puzi bin AB Kahar, Director General for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency

These leaders and other visitors to our display voiced four general capability gaps when it comes to understanding and reacting to events occurring in the littorals across Southeast Asia and the South China Sea. First and foremost is a lack of situational awareness and quick response for maritime safety and coastal surveillance alerts.  They are challenged with disparate systems with no comprehensive way to correlate and visualize information for situational awareness or follow on investigation.  Microsoft’s Maritime Domain Awareness System provides comprehensive situational awareness and investigational collaboration capabilities that can integrate state-of-the-art surveillance technology to provide these leaders and the staffs the ability to proactively detect, understand, investigate, and respond to threats, suspicious activity, and other hazards.  The system surfaces and operationalizes data, incrementally reducing inefficiency and cost through introduction of shared portals and repositories with increasing app and delivery support. These capabilities Increased speed and ease of access while also improving collaboration and productivity across functional areas; thereby enriching the information and insights available to decision makers.

Another concern which was consistently raised by the leaders in attendance was their inability to access, assimilate and process existing volumes of data for statistical analysis and consumable collaborative maps (GIS data) in order to conduct predictive modeling using advanced analytics—a lack of “intelligence led” data-driven operations -Advanced Analytics.  Big Data analytics capabilities supported by advanced dashboards and reports that enable real time visibility into real time operational decisions or predictive modeling are fundamental qualities of Microsoft’s Maritime Domain Awareness System.  The system provides actionable, quantified information with ability to effectively analyze and plan based on real time visibility into underlying structured and unstructured data from multiple sources.

And finally, attendees unanimously asked for solutions which provide for mobility, before and during, unified event response and crisis management.  They desire solutions which bring deployed elements into to the information exchange, collaboration and coordination in real time.  Mobile communications along with support networks for fluid, self-organizing, self-regulating field force deployments yield agile, highly-adaptive actions which can be effectively command and controlled are absolutely necessary in order to respond to today’s nontraditional threats to society across the littorals.  Microsoft’s solution can “push” and “pull” in real time field instructions, orders and reports to and from affected locations/forces in order to address regional realities across any devices, providing a truly mobile work experience.