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Safety of navigation’ through the jungle of digital data using new concepts

An article by Dr. Thomas Heege, CEO at EOMAP GmbH & Co.KG

Marine and coastal industries are often faced with critical decisions in project planning, execution and navigation operations, which can have significant safety and economic impacts. Therefore, maximizing knowledge of reliable on-site information is of highest importance to marine operations in order to reduce risks and increase efficiency. While many will agree with this, in reality it remains a day-to-day challenge to access this ‘knowledge’. Such knowledge can be defined as data which provide information on specific variables or parameters such as bathymetry, sea state, or oil spill extent. In other words, access to such data is needed to allow decision making and this commonly results in challenges such as: Where do I get my knowledge for specific sites from? What kind of data is available? How reliable is the data? Can I access better data? This sums up the need to safely navigate among often unknown, not accessible or un-reliable data.

MarSat’s objectives are to address these questions and provide assistance and practical solutions by harvesting existing as well as generating new innovative data for the maritime industry, and furthermore to make them accessible in a standardized and easy-to-use way. To this end, EOMAP has created a decentralized network of databases which is based on third party and proprietary maritime products. These data are being provided in two standardized methods, which provide full transparency and control of the data. One is the eoAPI, which allows a programmatic way to access the data, and the other is the eoApp, which allows online visualization and analysis. Following an introduction to the underlying products and innovative Earth Observation (EO) solutions, we will briefly describe both interfaces in the following sections

Data and EO solution

The number of databases which provide continuous (or static) information of potential use to the maritime industry is increasing significantly. EOMAP is compiling relevant third-party information, such as hydrodynamic model hind- and forecasts on seastate and ocean properties from the NOAA and Copernicus models. In addition, EOMAP is creating innovative new data using Earth Observation data (satellite data). By combining the Earth Observation data with workflows to create value-added products, such as local seastate parameters, shallow water bathymetry or turbidity it is possible to provide the most up-to-date and high resolution information for almost any location on earth.

eoAPI

The eoAPI, an application programming interface, allows programmatic access to these data. As such, it is of importance to users which have high and continuous demand of maritime data. It can either be integrated into available workflows or software. One of many examples for the use of the eoAPI is to e.g. track the transport of floating materials based on currents and wind information – using the seastate information – and then re-adjusting the positions by using EO analysis and imagery.

eoApp

The eoApp, a web application frontend, is a user-friendly interface to access, visualize and analyze the maritime data online. It does not require any specific a priori knowledge, software or hardware. As such, it is of importance to users which have a requirement to rapidly visualize data on site as a basis for making decisions. The eoApp – where the c stands for customized – is being customized for specific uses within industry sectors and portals, and is now being prepared for partners in the dredging, survey and oil/gas industries.

The main message we need to take away is that MarSat offers a solution that combines available maritime data and new innovative Earth Observation products in a standardized and easy to use way. The aim is to serve as lighthouse to ‘safely navigate’ among often unknown, not accessible or unreliable data.