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Indonesia’s Digital Leap in Maritime Security: AIS and Sat Tech

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An archipelagic nation, Indonesia boasts a maritime area covering three-fourths of its territory, amounting to over 5.8 million square kilometres. This vast naval expanse includes the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), territorial sea, and other areas under Indonesia’s jurisdiction. The extensive coastline and enormous sea area present significant challenges and opportunities for the nation. Among the challenges, Indonesia faces a range of transnational crimes, including illegal fishing, smuggling of goods and drugs, human trafficking, terrorism, and piracy.

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Indonesia has implemented stringent surveillance, prevention, and law enforcement measures across its waters to address these maritime crimes. Central to these efforts is advanced digital technology, particularly the Automatic Identification System (AIS). The mandatory installation and activation of AIS on all Indonesian-flagged and foreign ships sailing within Indonesian waters is outlined in the Minister of Transportation Regulation Number 7 of 2019. This regulation underscores Indonesia’s commitment to leveraging digital technology to enhance maritime security.

Muazam Nugroho, a researcher at the Satellite Technology Research Centre of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), explains that AIS is a globally utilised technology for monitoring ship traffic. Operating on Very High Frequency (VHF) channels (161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz), AIS automatically transmits essential information related to ships at sea. This data includes ship name and type, Maritime Mobile Services Identities (MMSI), International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Number, call sign, ship nationality, weight, specifications, navigation status, coordinates, destination, estimated arrival time, speed, and direction.

AIS devices use the Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) system, allowing the transmission of approximately 2000 messages per minute. These messages can be received by other ships, terrestrial AIS receiving stations, and space-borne AIS receiving stations. The advantage of space-borne AIS lies in its extended reception radius due to the satellite’s altitude. This system ensures comprehensive coverage and real-time monitoring, significantly enhancing maritime situational awareness.

Indonesia has launched several satellite missions to bolster its maritime monitoring capabilities. Notably, the LAPAN-A2 and LAPAN-A3 satellites carry AIS Receiver payloads. These missions, along with the Nusantara Earth Observation -1 (NEO-1) and Nusantara Equatorial IoT (NEI) satellites, contribute significantly to the surveillance and protection of Indonesian waters. These satellites play a critical role in collecting AIS data, which is vital for monitoring ship movements and identifying suspicious activities at sea.

The AIS data collected by these satellites is utilised by various organisations, including the Indian Space Agency (ISRO), The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Indonesia Office, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, the Marine Security Agency, the Ministry of Transportation, the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment, and internal BRIN. This collaborative approach ensures the data is effectively used to safeguard Indonesia’s maritime interests.

Implementing AIS technology and supporting satellite missions have significantly enhanced Indonesia’s ability to monitor and protect its vast maritime territory. By leveraging advanced digital technology and satellite data, Indonesia is better equipped to combat transnational maritime crimes and ensure the safety and security of its waters.

AIS technology and satellite monitoring provide comprehensive and real-time data on ship movements, enabling authorities to detect and respond to suspicious activities swiftly. This digital approach enhances maritime security and contributes to the sustainable management of marine resources by preventing illegal activities such as overfishing and smuggling.

Moving forward, Indonesia aims to enhance its digital maritime surveillance capabilities further. This includes upgrading AIS technology, expanding satellite coverage, and integrating data analytics and artificial intelligence to predict and prevent naval crimes. Cooperation with international organisations and neighbouring countries will also be strengthened to ensure a coordinated and effective response to transnational maritime threats.


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