Interagency Operations Centers bring together federal, state, local, tribal, international, public and private stakeholders in a multi-agency cooperative environment. An IOC is a matrix organization conducting joint planning and assignment of resources to mission demands supported by – but not dependent upon – a brick and mortar watch floor.
Why this program?
The Security and Accountability for Every Port Act of 2006 mandated the establishment of IOCs in all high-priority ports to better plan, coordinate and execute operations among interagency partners, primarily in the context of maritime security. The Secretary of Homeland Security delegated the authority to establish IOCs to the Commandant of the Coast Guard.
To accomplish the IOC objective, the Coast Guard established the IOC acquisition program in 2008 to design, develop and deploy an information management system, WatchKeeper, to support the functions of the IOC and to improve multi-agency maritime security operations at 37 U.S. ports.
WatchKeeper enables IOCs to:
- Collaborate with port partners for joint planning and operations through risk-based assignment of resources to mission demands
- Share targeting, intelligence and scheduling information to improve situational awareness, uncover gaps in planned and ongoing operations, and reduce duplication of effort among agencies
- Develop real-time awareness, evaluate threats and deploy finite resources to the right places through active collection of port activity information
- Minimize the economic impact from any disruption, whether natural or manmade.
How this program was implemented:
The acquisition program for IOC was chartered March 28, 2008, to develop WatchKeeper. WatchKeeper was incrementally released to the field as a technology demonstrator; IOC Charleston, South Carolina, was the first sector to receive WatchKeeper in 2010. The acquisition program’s final major software build, Version 2.0.1, was delivered to the field in February 2014.
The WatchKeeper system aids the IOC community in actively collecting port activity information to develop real-time awareness, evaluate threat, and deploy finite resources to the right places.
The WatchKeeper system is:
- Cooperative: A common user interface receives, aggregates and displays data from existing sources/authoritative Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection systems into a common viewer, allowing a real-time view of data by all users
- Secure: Enables a unified coalition of port agencies to access and share information in real time; can control data and user access through user role management; and provides sensitive but unclassified system
- Accessible: Web-based and accessible from any location with computer, Internet access and login credential
WatchKeeper user feedback has played a vital role in system development and progression since 2010. Maturing WatchKeeper system functionality remains a priority for the IOC program and feedback will continue to inform updates and modifications to the system. Migration to an open architecture framework is planned to improve management of services.