The YARIS platform will become the information sharing tool amongst the 27 maritime centres of the Yaoundé Architecture, their partners and all stakeholders involved within 6 000 km off the coast. Conceived primarily as a maritime situational awareness (MSA) tool, it allows both to know what is going on at sea and to coordinate crisis situation operations. It also incorporates email and videoconference services.
YARIS exemplifies the collaborative approach developed by the European Union to combat piracy and respond to the current maritime security challenges that the coastal Gulf of Guinea State members are facing, such as drugs and arm trafficking, illegal fishing, environmental damages …
YARIS co-developed with its users
The technical specifications of the YARIS platform have been jointly developed by the GoGIN team and a group of representatives from the Yaoundé Architecture maritime centres (ICC, CRESMAO, CRESMAC and MMCC). The functionalities of the system have then been approved and improved according to the needs of the users. After contract award by the Zertive-XSealence-SplendidAdvice consortium, dialogue was further strengthened amongst all stakeholders to ensure that the tool responded to all the identified user’s needs.
An initial version was delivered in May 2020 allowing centre partners, as future trainers, to get familiar with the different functionalities of the platform. The final version was delivered in August 2020, after integration of the improvement feedback made by the trainers. The coming months will be dedicated to the system maintenance taking the lessons learned and recommendations into account.
YARIS, a flexible and operational tool
The platform is up and running and includes several modules allowing securely to:
- share general information on centres events and news (portal);
- share operational information about incidents at sea (eg: grounded tanker, pirate attack …) to ensure a collective management and follow up of each situation;
- integrate mapping information, geo referenced data and /or a variety of vessel tracking systems (AIS or radars, SEAVISION system, etc);
- conduct reliable analysis for better maritime domain awareness;
- manage the user rights according to the user profiles: each centre will have the flexibility to define what information to share, with whom, and on which level of confidentiality or geographical area. This flexibility of access is totally secure.
More concretely, the modules appear as follows:
An information and news portal as first access point for all the YARIS users. Each centre manages its own flow of news before sharing it in a targeted manner with the other entities via the system’s collaborative tools (blog, forum, agenda, document sharing).
Secure email and videoconference services available to all connected centres, according to their allocated user rights.
Functionalities that ensure information sharing and operational situation management:
- Management of operational situations: each routine, crisis or specific situation is created by a centre which, while remaining process owner, can share it with the other centres. Each operational situation is monitored using the three following applications:
- Chat: to discuss online with all group members during regular sharing of information or throughout the management of a maritime situation;
- Log: all events and actions resulting from each situation are registered in the log, that will, if necessary, serve as basis for any legal procedure;
- Advanced mapping: using OpenStreet maps and specific nautical charts, this application enables to import and export maps, and layers (vessel tracking, routes, etc .) to position incidents and polygonal areas; YARIS benefited from the support of ExactEarth and GeoGarage, that have respectively supplied AIS data and nautical charts to test the system.
- Authorisation management: the system combines several authorisations : user profile (administrator, decision maker, supervisor, operator, guest, etc.), confidentiality level (confidential, private, public) and scope (local, national, regional, zonal, inter-regional and international). A central system administrator and a local administrator per centre are entitled to define access rights and usage conditions.
Authorised users only with secure log-in
YARIS is only accessible to authorised users, appointed by partner countries, maritime centres and regional organisations. Currently, even if the platform is not yet deployed, all authorised centres can log in. After the last train of trainer session in November 2020, multinational and national centres will progressively use the YARIS system once the training sessions have taken place in their respective centres.
YARIS contains the latest technologies and processes to ensure an adequate level of information security. It is hosted by AHP in a secure cloud environment.
Towards a complete transfer to Yaoundé Architecture
The GoGIN project, due to end in April 2021, is organising a transfer of the YARIS platform together with the regional organisations ECOWAS, ECCAS and GGC as well as key political and strategic decision makers of the Yaoundé Architecture. This transfer includes:
- Ownership transfer: The specific terms and conditions of the transfer are currently under discussion with the senior officials;
- Trainers and user training: the pool of trainers which has been practicing since the delivery of the initial version will conduct the training sessions of the operators and maintenance personnel during the field deployment of the platform. The training agenda is however dependent on a return to normal further to the COVID 19 sanitary crisis situation;
- Support of governance arrangements: the GoGIN team can assist authorities in the definition of usage and management policies of the system.
Thanks to this process YARIS will become a genuine regional platform contributing to increasing maritime situational awareness in an efficient and cost-effective way.