Accelerating Europe's 'blue economy' with better ICT
18 March 2013
A compelling need exists for an Integrated Sea Information System (ISIS) to accelerate the € 6.4 trillion offshore wind energy industry in European seas. In 2011, mainstream renewable power formed the ISIS collaborative network with 22 organisations from six EU member states. The ISIS collaborative network is a partnership between academia, public authorities and commercial enterprises.
The primary focus of the network is to accelerate the EU’s marine policy through innovation and resource optimisation in information and communications technology (ICT). This network has created a clear ISIS vision of faster, better, simpler, cheaper risk management that is built on a collaborative technology platform.
As a collaborative technology platform, ISIS aims to:
• Bring together industry leaders and global organisations to collaborate openly for the benefit of Europe’s offshore wind and marine industries;
• Aggregate multiple discrete data sources to deliver an innovative data brokerage that facilitates multiple initiatives between academia, public authorities and commercial enterprises, raising the quality of data initiatives and driving standardisation;
• Provide visualisation via leading-edge technological platforms, including big data, cloud computing and software gaming technology, built with open standards. ISIS converts data into wisdom;
• Allow strategic risk analysis and mitigation, resulting in informed decision-making by pooling the collaborative research capabilities of academia, public authorities and commercial enterprises;
• Lead to higher success and reduced risk, thereby lowering the cost of developing, building and operating offshore wind and marine industries.
The need for ISIS by 2014 is no coincidence. Europe’s offshore wind and marine industries are expanding rapidly and need reliable, high-resolution datasets. Europe’s seas represent a vast natural resource, with five million people directly employed across 22 of the 27 EU member states. Effective data management practices are an imperative for academia, public authorities and commercial enterprises working with marine data.
There are three drivers to establish the ISIS collaborative network:
• Driver 1: The EU Renewable Energy Target 20:20:20. There is an overarching target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 1990 levels and derive 20% of the EU’s final energy consumption from renewable energy sources, both by 2020. Building offshore wind farms is a major component of this target. By 2050, some 50% of Europe’s energy will need to come from wind, an incremental investment of € 6.4 trillion.
• Driver 2: EU Directives impact on the marine industry. There are four EU directives that have particular impact and relevance to marine-based commercial enterprises; the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the INSPIRE Directive, the Birds and Habitat Directives and the Data Collection Framework for Fisheries.
• Driver 3: European Marine Data Management Infrastructure, EMODNET, is in place. Europe’s marine observation and data management infrastructure is built and operated by EU government agencies and research institutes working together. The ISIS collaborative network will develop as a marine data user and data supplier, while other European marine data infrastructure plans are executed.
ISIS aims to support Europe’s organisations in reaching high levels of maturity in marine data management in collaboration with existing EU data management strategies. In 2007, the EU began developing an integrated marine policy to maximise the sustainable use of the sea, while enabling growth of the marine economy and coastal regions.
The Marine Directive poses new challenges, including the need for additional data monitoring where creative solutions must be found. A strong collaboration between academia, public authorities and commercial enterprises will provide extra monitoring sites and data streams, stimulate innovation and drive the Blue Economy. ISIS will adhere to open standards and build upon existing EU data management programmes such as ICES, GMES, INSPIRE, EMODNET, SeaDataNet, MyOcean, and WISE-MARINE.
Marine Knowledge 2020 recognises the importance of shared marine knowledge and identifies three phases of data processing: the collection of data, the assembly of data and the application of data. The focus of the ISIS collaborative network is on the assembly of existing datasets combined with additional data collection, thereby testing and strengthening the EMODNET infrastructure.
ISIS is using the Capability Maturity Framework approach developed by the Innovation Value Institute. This framework demonstrates how the data management practices of different organisations can be classified according to five different maturity levels, ranging from ‘level l Initial’ to ‘level 5 Optimising’.
The ISIS programme will define a set of innovative projects which adopt existing standards, make use of existing technology and create new technology, and it will also deliver software products and create reports about data availability, resolution and quality that can be fed back to academia, public authorities and commercial enterprises.
The programme has a commerical focus and aims to create a risk surface to identify and solve practical problems. It will create user-friendly solutions to predict and mitigate marine risk. There are five layers to the ISIS programme: instrumentation, communications, database, visualisation and risk scenarios. ISIS will deliver a set of projects that incorporate advanced, high-performance computing; advanced visualisation technology from the software gaming sector; a data historian infrastructure; and encrypted fault-tolerant wireless communications. The ISIS programme is focused on using data, rather than reporting data.
Since 2011, the ISIS collaborative network has identified three ‘Use Cases’:
ISIS Use Case 1: Co-ordination of marine measurements to reduce data collection costs. ISIS will reduce data measurement costs and allow cross-correlation of data to provide a resource map covering locations throughout Europe’s seas.
ISIS Use Case 2: Meteorological buoy data synchronisation to build better models. Governments of all North Sea states have had a large number of buoys employed for decades. ISIS will improve the synchronisation of data between sites and countries allowing for greater confidence in measured values. Furthermore, additional meteorological buoys installed by offshore wind developers could fit into such a ‘met buoy grid’ to fill in the gaps, helping to validate sea-state models.
ISIS Use Case 3: Overlaying of existing and future marine Infrastructures to identify risks sooner. ISIS will create a new, integrated presentation of existing infrastructure maps and functions. Visualisation of what is there, and what may be there, is a crucial tool for sustainable commercial use of European seas.
ISIS acelerates the ‘blue economy’. With an openly available integrated sea information system, a knowledge base can be built, commercial enterprises can make better decisions, and sustainability can be achieved sooner. Developing and building wind farms and marine industries would happen faster. Such a system would also help answer questions on long-term sea-life habitat formation and help to improve health and safety in marine industries. ISIS acts as a decision support tool and needs to be more than 3D in structure; the model needs to be n-dimensional. It delivers analytical and predictive software tools to identify and mitigate risk, as well as accelerating the pace of sustainable development by removing uncertainty, delays and errors.
ISIS is complementary to existing EU data collection strategies and seeks to leverage EU initiatives already under way. To create ISIS, new EU policies, new EU regulations, new technology standards, greater co-operation and innovative ICT are needed.
ISIS will not succeed in the absence of EU support. Targeted EU innovation funding will ensure that ISIS is developed in the timeframe required by stakeholders. The timely publishing of EU regulations on marine data management will ensure ISIS is developed in a cost-effective manner. The pace of achieving benefits from the ISIS programme is highly dependent on EU innovation funding and the creation of EU regulations.
John Shaw is Chairman of the Computing Division at Engineers Ireland and CIO at Mainstream Renewable Power, which has established operations in eight countries across four continents developing, constructing and operating large-scale wind and solar plant. Shaw is a Chartered Engineer and a registered European Professional Engineer, with over 20 years’ experience in energy, pharma and manufacturing. He holds an MBA in Technology Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronics Engineering from University College Dublin.