The Importance of Caution

New Technology may oft appear the answer to our problems. However, whilst this may very well be true, the importance of being cautious should never be forgotten.

Technology and Maritime Security: The Importance of Caution

New Technology is often seen as the answer to many of our problems. Chip and Pin credit cards would make our finances more secure and speed up transactions; the electronic car would save us all money, whilst helping the environment; High Definition television would give us such a crisp picture we would feel as though we were watching an event where it was taking place.

In reality of course one might question whether chip and pin has speeded much up when the computer system managing it has a fault; the ability to utilise an electronic car may be undermined by a lack of charge points; the High Definition television may still break down leaving us very much out of the picture.

In short, whilst new technology offers so much potential then, the importance of being cautious in relation to it should not be forgotten. Have we asked ourselves what perceived problems the technology is seeking to address? Indeed are they really problems at all? Is the technological solution cost effective? Are there any supplementary problems which may stem from the use of new technology? Is the new technology tackling a symptom rather than a cause?

These types of questions are as relevant to those interested in the use of new technology in the pursuit of greater and more sustainable maritime security as they are in life as a whole.

Identification cards, some of which incorporate biometrics, have been increasingly utilised to navigate one’s way around ports as measures such as the ISPS Code have an impact on day-to-day practice. Who manages the data, how it is used and what oversight is there over the use of such technology, are the kind of issues that need to be at the forefront of the minds of those responsible for maritime security.

Whilst new technology can be liberating it can just as easily constrain if the system is poorly planned and managed. To utilise another example, while new technology continues to be developed for the very worthy objective of combating pirate attacks, such technological developments should not detract from the importance of tackling the root causes of piracy themselves.

No one would wish to ignore the great potential new technology has to help us to achieve and maintain maritime security. Yet equally we should not forget the importance of approaching that technology with a degree of caution.

Written by Dr James A. Malcolm, Lecturer in Maritime Security at Coventry University.

Coventry University’s new online MA in Maritime Security launches towards the end of December and is still accepting applications, with the deadline set for 14th December. For more information, please click here.

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