Could we develop greater sovereign capability in remote intelligence technologies?
Could this become a significant export service industry to achieve surveillance, defence, and conservation outcomes?
WA’s assets include marine ecosystems, offshore energy reserves and defence installations. They are spread across large areas that are expensive to monitor. There is an asymmetry, meaning defending against environmental, military, industrial or other threats is challenging.
Growing our capability in remote intelligence could ‘offset’ this asymmetry locally and be the foundation for providing remote intelligence services internationally.
WA already has centres, capability and significant experience in remote intelligence and autonomous operations. WA universities are developing defence and civil research capability and recently a new Subsea Innovation Cluster has been formed to focus on Inspection, Maintenance and Repair (IMR). Though this capability exists, there is scope to develop it, and specific technologies, into wider commercialisation.
Many natural and economic assets are in remote areas of the ocean and need monitoring and defending e.g. marine parks, undersea cables, and shipping chokepoints.
Mapping, monitoring and managing marine assets is challenging and expensive, yet essential for developing nations to develop their blue economies.
Technology, and enhancing the ability of humans to make use of it, can address mapping, monitoring, management and defence challenges.
Digital tools are becoming increasingly affordable and usable, for artisan fishers in developing countries as much as oil and gas companies.
Other Indian Ocean nations, particularly Small Island Developing States, are facing similar challenges in mapping their assets and protecting their natural capital. Remote intelligence could assist them, as well as address key issues in international waters such as preventing piracy at chokepoints, people smuggling and illegal fishing.
The ability to gather intelligence cheaply and remotely using technology is as relevant to artisanal fisheries as it is to multi-national oil and gas companies. Growing it as an industry is an opportunity for WA.