Sample Communication Research Paper on Telecommunication in Qatar Coast Guard

Introduction

The Qatar Coast Guards are charged with the responsibility of securing the country’s maritime resources, conducting evacuation for emergency situations within its territories, apprehending foreign people who trespass into the country’ s marine resources, and conducting offshore patrols beyond the horizon. The execution of such duties generally involves traversing the seas over large sections that may cover a stretch beyond 600 km. Executing the functions of maritime security would require massive transport infrastructure supported by a well-secured telecommunication system. Telecommunication would support the long and fast communications required to execute emergency evacuations on sinking ships or communication required to arrest trespassers in the country’s maritime resources. Telecommunication would also support increased information sharing between different government agencies whose work is related to the functions of the Qatari Coast Guard. This paper evaluates the Qatari Coast Guard communication capabilities by looking at the capabilities it has, the reasons that justify the possession of these capabilities, and the capabilities it would require going into the future.

Importance of Telecommunication to Marine Security

Telecommunication is an important aspect in achieving maritime security for Qatar maritime resources (Holsten 34). This has informed the policy development for Maritime security in Qatar. The country has made significant effort to upgrade its maritime telecommunication technology over time. Its National Security Shield is shared by key national security agencies and the military, raising the stakes in the performance capacity and security levels required for the Qatar Coast Guard telecommunication infrastructure. The Coast Guard also uses remote radio system to establish secure communication between officers. Radio receivers can be connected to through a telecommunication network running on secure access points. Radio communication remains a reliable mead for the Qatar Coast Guards. However, they also use satellite phones to establish secure connection amongst the officers using satellite communication.

The role of mobile communications as a new telecommunication approach in supporting maritime security cannot be underrated. Mobile networks now allow the Qatar Coast Guards to communicate with the vessels at sea on critical information such as reported ship position, safety information, and weather forecasts. They rely on accurate and fast updates of ship positions to save ships that make distress calls. Such updates can be quickly passed using the mobile communication system.

Current Telecommunication Capabilities for Qatar Coast Guard

Qatari Coastguard currently uses a National Security Shield to survey its territorial waters. The Coast Guards and the Qatar Border Guards use the system alongside other security forces within the country. The current National Security Shield has was built by Airbus. The system has surveillance vehicles fitted with a set of direction finders, radars, and cameras that would conduct surveillance across a section of 600 km. The system is able to address surveillance needs to curb illegal immigrants, illegal fishing, human trafficking, smuggling, terrorist networks, and piracy. The National Security Shield is able to capture sensor data and images for use by different forces within the country’s borders (Holsten 69).

Part of the system includes a module for documentation management, a system for training simulation, a user management system and a web portal for connecting to external agencies. The web portal requires a secure private telecommunications ability to be able to transmit sensitive security data to other partner agencies like the Land Force Headquarters, the National Crisis Center, and the Air Force. Connectivity is achieved through connection of the system to offshore towers (Holsten76). The system has a command and control center that uses real time situational approach to deliver an overview of the situation in surrounding waters. It also has a redundant information technology network to provide communication and data sharing between the different government agencies.

The maritime security for Qatar is hinged on long-range communications capability provided by satellite communication systems. The military has developed an enhanced capability for voice and data communication to protect the country’s vital interests and to enhance national security. Part of the responsibility of the Qatari Coast Guard is to meet the domestic security needs along the coastline. It conducts strategic sealift, supports freedom of navigation, mitigates hostile and criminal acts, responds to distress calls at sea, and enhances maritime security. The sea is a vast area that requires that the Coast Guards are able to conduct coordinated communication to harmonize the monitoring efforts with the response calls.

Those working in the National Security Shield need to have secure communication with the scouts at sea. Telecommunication becomes clearly necessary in establishing such coordination. The National Security Shield has a surveillance aspect, where radar communication is used to gather information about the ships and vessels at sea, and the overflying planes in the country’s territorial waters. It also uses satellite communication to help coordinate the activities at sea with the monitoring center on land. This SATCOM telecommunication system also supports communication between the National Security Shield and the ship vessels at sea (Holsten 101).

Questionnaire

Questionnaires were given to stakeholders in the sector for maritime security. They included representative from shipping companies, the Coast Guard, the Qatar Border Guards, and the Port Authorities. They gave their views on the perception they hold about the current telecommunication capabilities for the Qatari Coast Guard.

QUESTIONNAIRE

Part A

  1. Do you think there is adequate awareness on cyber security for the telecommunication systems used by the Qatari’s Coast Guard?
  2. Do you think the current regulations on maritime security provide adequate consideration on the issue of cyber security?
  3. What is your perception on the level of complexity and automation achieved this far in the telecommunication and ICT infrastructure used by the Qatar Coast Guard?
  4.  In your view, what are the vulnerabilities present in the current telecommunication system used by the Qatar Coast Guard?
  5. How do you compare the performance of the High Frequency bands (HF) used in the past with the new Global Maritime Distress and Safety System that uses narrow-band direct printing? Is there an advantage that addresses the spectrum needs in your communication needs?
  6. Do your systems use the narrow-band direct-printing?
  7. Do your systems have the capacity to use Inmarsat satellite systems?
  8. If your systems use narrow-band direct printing, is there a communication improvement you gain over the past use of Middle Frequency and Very High Frequency when communicating with ships deeps into the sea?
  9. What new digital technologies do you use for your allocated spectrum? Do you consider them efficient and poised to maximize your utility?
  10. Why do you prefer the narrow-band direct printing system?
  11. Why did you drop the old radio telex system that used to serve your telecommunication needs at the sea?
  12. How do you manage the conflicted interest inherent in protecting existing applications amidst the onslaught brought by the launch of new digital technologies?
  13. Which steps does the Qatar Coast Guard take to avoid creating interference between the analogue technologies and the newly adopted digital technologies?
  14. Which strategies have you put in place to preclude the use of core bands for other technologies while still supporting the current use of narrow-band direct printing?
  15. There is a general agreement that maritime communications are an important element for enhancing safety in port operations. Have you considered preserving two frequency bands for Qatar Coast Guard to provide support in vessel tracking and to create enhanced satellite detection?

Part B

  1. Some of your systems still run on duplex channels. Is there a way for improving them? Or are they destined for irredeemable obsolescence?
  2. Do you currently use an automatic information system in any of your ship vessels?
  3. Have you considered using advanced techniques for data transmission that would support VHF digital services?
  4. Which measures do you use to eliminate adverse cases such as ship-to-ship collision?
  5. Have you considered improving the telecommunications system used by the Qatari Coast Guards by exploring different viable options such as the addition of the latest radar systems with improved detection strength that would detect stealth objects?
  6. What policy steps have you made towards achieving maritime security for Qatar maritime resources?
  7. Do you use the remote radio system for communications between officers? If not, do you use satellite phones (satellite communication) to establish secure connection amongst your officers?
  8. What is your perception on the role of mobile communications as a new telecommunication approach in supporting the operations for maritime security?
  9. How do you get to communicate critical information such as reported ship position, safety information, and weather forecasts with ships at sea?
  10. Do your systems support accurate and fast updates of ship positions from ships that make distress calls? How do you achieve this?
  11. The established Radio Regulations still recognize the safety function to be vested in the transponder operation. How does this influence your desire to adopt automatic information system as a decisive factor for the safety function?

Discussion

The individual questionnaire responses gathered from the different participants were then analyzed and validated through a workshop session. The validation process involved checking out whether the conclusions drawn from the questionnaire responses matched the established information in different sources assessed during literature review. The main themes that received great focus included the creation of new proposals that can be followed to enhance the management of security in telecommunication and information systems used in ports. The other important theme was to explore new managerial approaches for information sharing that would support the protection of key telecommunication infrastructure used for maritime security (Tetreault 67). Cyber-security aspects for the maritime security were also examined in the questionnaire given to the participants.

The Qatar Coast Guard used to rely on High Frequency bands (HF) to establish general communication between vessels and receivers across long distances in the ocean. This system used radiotelephony, Morse telegraphy and radio telex. It has since begun to adopt a new system that uses standard radio telex system. The new system – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System – uses narrow-band direct printing. It creates a new data exchange technology that addresses the spectrum needs that could not be met by the maritime mobile service.

With narrow-band direct printing, the Qatar Coast Guard is able to achieve enhanced communication with its ship vessels if they sail deep into the sea where signals for Middle Frequency and Very High Frequency cannot reach. Other alternative technologies can be explored by Qatar Coast Guard to achieve similar technical functionalities (Tetreault78). However, narrow-band direct printing is the only system recognized by Global Maritime Distress and Safety System for giving safety information to ships that sail deep into the sea. Maritime mobile service follows radio regulations that encourage shipping stakeholders to use more efficient digital technologies within their allocated spectrum as a way for increasing utility.

Narrow-band direct printing is a requirement for SOLAS carriage. The other one is the capacity to use Inmarsat satellite systems. Most shippers prefer it for making distress calls under extreme remote circumstances such as when sailing in remote Polar regions that are out of reach for the geostationary satellites. There are specific HF distress frequencies and safety frequencies that support signal coverage for ships under such extreme distress conditions (45). The Qatar Coast Guard used to rely on the old radio telex system to meet its telecommunication needs at the sea (Tetreault 57). However, it has since dropped the system due to its many limitations. Many other coast stations also did away with the old radio telex system.

The automatic information system used by Qatar Coast Guard supports safe navigation by creating opportunity for communication to eliminate adverse cases such as ship-to-ship collision. It also supports the surveillance functions performed by the Qatar Coast Guard. However, the safety effects that accrue from the use of automatic information systems are yet to be accepted by established Radio Regulations. The established Radio Regulations still recognize the safety function to be vested in the transponder operation. The telecommunications system used by the Qatari Coast Guards can be improved by adding the latest radar systems with improved detection strength that would detect a stealth weapon and intruding stealth planes. 

Future Developments

Currently, there is increased push to have new digital technologies included in the maritime mobile service for the Qatar Coast Guard security station. The existing challenge emanates from the conflicted interest in protecting existing applications amidst the onslaught brought by the launch of new digital technologies. Qatar Coast Guard can ride through this challenge by using digitally modulated data emissions within their allotted radiotelephony band. They should do this while withholding the frequency bands used in the old duplex radiotelephony (Tetreault 69). When adopting new digital technologies, the Qatar Coast Guard can also take steps to avoid creating interference between the analogue technologies and the digital technologies. This can be done by introducing new proper regulations. The Qatar Coast Guard can also reduce some of the frequencies preserved for narrow-band direct printing by converting them for core band use. Such a decision would preclude the use of core bands for other technologies while still supporting the current use of narrow-band direct printing.

Maritime communications are an important element for enhancing safety in port operations and ship voyages. To this end, it is important that two frequency bands are set aside  by Qatar Coast Guard to support vessel tracking and better enhanced satellite detection. Its current duplex channels can be improved by adding more simplex channels. Qatar Coast Guard can also use advanced techniques for data transmission that would support VHF digital services. The automatic information system currently used by Qatar Coast Guard supports safe navigation in the country’s water territories (Tetreault 39). It also ensures a smooth operation for the ship fleet owned by the Qatar Coast Guard. There is still an opportunity for the Qatar Coast Guard to use new VHF channels to detect automatic information systems through improved satellite detection. This can further be explored if the ITU makes a move to create a new dedicated message channel (message 27) that would be used to track the detection of an automatic information system using satellite communication. This would allow the Qatar Coast Guard to monitor and track vessels that use automatic information system.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Qatar Coast Guard uses competent technology capabilities to achieve telecommunication in the pursuit if maritime security. The narrow-band direct printing is a contemporary technology that is currently fronted as competent by the International Maritime Organization. The common standard supports safety and security in the maritime telecommunication processes. However, there is still opportunity for the Qatar Coast Guard to adopt new telecommunication technologies as they emerge. The current use of satellite communication is a good indicator on the immense capabilities that the Qatar Coast Guard will have when they are faced with disaster. They can be able to respond to emergency calls at sea even when the mobile communication system is down – due to their reliance in satellite communication. The Qatar Coast Guard should also seize the first opportunity for adoption of automatic information system as approved for safety by the Radio Regulations.

Works Cited

Holsten, Stephan. “Global maritime surveillance with satellite-based AIS.” OCEANS 2009-EUROPE. IEEE, 2009.

Tetreault, Brian J. “Use of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) for maritime domain awareness (MDA).” OCEANS, 2005. Proceedings of MTS/IEEE. IEEE, 2005.

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National Security Shield <https://airbusdefenceandspace.com/newsroom/news-and-features/border-security-system-in-<qatar-now-in-operation/>