Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

CASPINFO Report Summary

Project reference: 211288
Funded under: FP7-ENVIRONMENT
Country: Netherlands

Final Report Summary - CASPINFO (Caspian environmental and industrial data & information service)

The Caspian Sea is the largest land-locked body of water on earth. Situated in a natural depression, below mean sea level, it receives water from the Volga, Ural and the Kura rivers and numerous other freshwater inputs, but has no outlet to world oceans. Water-level fluctuations, a natural cyclic phenomenon, have nevertheless had serious consequences for the region, displacing thousands of persons, destroying investments in industry and infrastructure and causing severe pollution threats via inundation of near shore waste sites. The isolation of the Caspian basin, it's climatic and salinity gradients have created a unique ecological system. Many Caspian biota are threatened by over-exploitation, habitat destruction and pollution. The five Caspian Sea countries Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Iran share the natural heritage of the Caspian Sea. Despite their political and social diversity, the people of the region share a common concern.

The Caspian faces significant environmental problems, many of a trans-boundary nature, that arise from both anthropogenic and natural causes. The countries that emerged from the former Soviet Union are confronted with difficult economic and administrative adjustments that complicate environmental management and natural resource protection efforts. The countries share common problems with pollution abatement and control from municipal and industrial sites in the Caspian basin, as well as contributing non-point source contaminants from agricultural sources. The CASPINFO project ran from September 2008 till March 2011 and aimed at strengthening the regional capacity and performance of marine environmental data and information management and adoption of international metadata standards and data-management practices, involving stakeholders from management, research and industry.

The project was composed of five work packages (WPs):

- WP1: Management and coordination;
- WP2: Requirements from environmental, management and industrial point of view and definition of data and information topics and functions;
- WP3: Collecting meta information and populating meta-databases of partner's data and information;
- WP4: Development CASPINFO information service;
- WP5: Dissemination / public outreach activities and defining sustainable operation model.

Results

1) A Caspian Sea network of leading environmental and socioeconomic research institutes, governmental departments, oil and gas industries and international bodies has been established.
2) Improved access to high quality, up-to-date environmental, economic, social and industrial (meta-) data and information is a key issue for the region and the project. This has been pursued by the Caspian Sea network by developing the CASPINFO data and information service (available via http://www.caspinfo.net online). This serves as a repository for relevant, available marine environmental and industrial (meta-) data and as an important instrument for marine environmental scientists, oil and gas industry and other marine industries, governmental decision-makers and managers and the general public. It facilitates access to socioeconomic and legal information, metadata and distributed datasets managed by the regional partners, in support of marine environmental management.
3) A sustainable operation model for the CASPINFO service has been explored, taking into account that the partners are coming from different backgrounds (public and private sectors) and deal with a mix of public and commercial data and information.

Project context and objectives
The five Caspian Sea countries Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Iran share the natural heritage of the Caspian Sea. Despite their political and social diversity, the people of the region share a common concern that the Caspian faces significant environmental problems, many of a trans-boundary nature, that arise from both anthropogenic and natural causes. The countries that emerged from the former Soviet Union are confronting difficult economic and administrative adjustments that complicate environmental management and natural resource protection efforts. The countries share common problems with pollution abatement and control from municipal and industrial sites in the Caspian basin, as well as contributing non-point source contaminants from agricultural sources. The Caspian Sea is the largest land-locked body of water on earth. Situated in a natural depression, it receives water from numerous freshwater inputs, but has no outlet to the world oceans. Water-level fluctuations have had serious consequences for the region, displacing thousands of persons, destroying investments in industry and infrastructure and causing severe pollution threats via inundation of near shore waste sites.

The isolation of the Caspian basin, it's climatic and salinity gradients have created a unique ecological system. Many Caspian biota are threatened by over-exploitation, habitat destruction and pollution. The biodiversity of the sea is not rich due to specific environment, but productivity is high, especially in the Northern Caspian. The unique richness of fish stocks is a result of combination of natural conditions, which produce a high level of biological productivity and unique species composition of ichthyofauna. One of the features of the Caspian Sea caused by its long isolation from the ocean is a high percentage of endemic species and genera of animals and plants. That determines originality of the biological diversity. The Caspian is containing world's largest natural population of sturgeon, which produces caviar, one of the world's most expensive edible delicacies. The regional sturgeon industry, which produces up to 85 % of the world's caviar, has been an economic mainstay of the Caspian Sea Basin for centuries [UNDP-CEP Report].

The Caspian basin is rich in commercially developable hydrocarbon deposits. Production of oil and gas is significant and new exploration activity is going on. The Caspian Sea has played an important role in development of the oil and gas resources of the region for many decades. Marine extraction of oil was introduced here. At present the marine fields yield about 10 million tons of oil annually, as well as 14 million m3 of gas [UNDP-CEP Report]. The development of deep-sea and offshore oilfields and gas fields where several rich deposits have been prospected will see increase future production. Oil production also generates constant traffic [UNDP-CEP Report]. The magnitude of oil and gas extraction and transport activity thus constitutes a risk to water quality. Underwater oil and gas pipelines are constructed or proposed. Commercial activity utilises the Caspian route to the Caspian Sea or the Baltic via the Volga-Don canal system. This combined traffic has a number of possible impacts on the Caspian's environmental integrity. Development of the oil industry led to development of marine transport in the Caspian. At present the Caspian merchant fleet carries freight far beyond the confines of the Sea, which is connected via systems of internal waterways with ports on the Azov-Black Seas, the Baltic and the northern basins.

The Caspian Sea can be considered as an important region and balance factor for Europe's future oil and gas supply, considering Russia's growing dominance in the energy sector.

Requirements for improved cooperation between the science sector, the private industry sector and the governmental sector.

- The national capabilities in environmental administration, research and monitoring and data collection in the Caspian Sea are adequate throughout the region and strong. But the administrative and procedural capabilities for regional, national and multi-national cooperation between marine environmental research institutes, government and the private industry in the Caspian Sea are not uniformly developed. A model of how to link science, management and industry to implement strategies of assessment and remediation is needed. Important for the deployment of such a model is improved overview, availability and accessibility of data and information on marine environment, industrial activities and hereto-related legal frameworks.
- Marine ecosystem-based management requires significantly more detailed data management, analytical capability and monitoring capacity. A closer collaboration on transnational scale between government, science and industry is essential to achieve this.

Objectives

CASPINFO aims at strengthening the regional capacity and performance of marine environmental data and information management and adoption of international metadata standards and data-management practices, involving stakeholders from management, research and industry.

The objectives are:

1) to initiate and maintain a Caspian Sea network of leading environmental and socioeconomic research institutes, governmental departments, oil and gas industries, and international bodies, jointly working on the definition, development and operation of the service;
2) development and establishment of an internet based data and information service to facilitate access to socioeconomic and legal information, metadata and distributed datasets, managed by the regional partners, and to support marine environmental management;
3) to explore and to develop a sustainable operation model for the service, taking into account that the partners are coming from different backgrounds and will deal with a mix of public and commercial data and information.

Project results

The project comprised five WPs:
- WP1: Management and coordination;
- WP2: Definition of data and information topics and functions;
- WP3: Collecting meta information and populating meta-databases of partner's data and information;
- WP4: Development of the information service;
- WP5: Dissemination / public outreach activities and defining sustainable operation model.

WP1: Management and coordination

During the project, six network meetings took place during the project and the following management activities were carried out:

- finalising of the Grant Agreement with the European Commission (EC) and the partners;
- organisation of network meetings;
- management of network meetings;
- drafting minutes of network meetings;
- administration and transfer of payments;
- managing deliverables;
- preparing periodic project reports including cost statement and final project report;
- collecting and validating of cost statements.

WP2: Definition of data and information topics and functions

The general objectives were:

- to explore and to define the requirements for Caspian Sea data and information from the point of view of the marine environment and the oil and gas industry;
- to define data and information topics and functions for the CASPINFO service.

WP2 was composed of four sub-WPs:

- WP2-1: Data and information requirements from environmental, management and industrial point of view;
- WP2-2: Remote sensing data;
- WP2-3: Available data and information;
- WP2-4: Data and information topics and functions of the service.

WP2-1: Data and information requirements from environmental, management and Industrial point of view.

Objectives

- Exploring and establishing what data are needed to improve support of environmental impact assessments and cooperation between environmental scientists and oil and gas industry;
- Exploring and establishing requirements for environmental data from point of view oil and gas industry, tuning of the requirements and finding consensus;
- Checking and tuning the data and information requirements, based upon experiences with other systems, such as SEADATANET and initiatives worldwide.

Methodology

A questionnaire was used to get a first knowledge of partner's capacity in terms of inventory of available datasets, research projects, thematic maps, database information and remote sensing data.

The questionnaire also represented a starting point for defining the requirements for web portal development and drafting deliverables:

- D4 about data requirements from environmental, management and industrial point of view;
- D5 about requirements, availability and opportunities of remote sensing data;
- D6 about the available environmental, management and industrial data and information.

The input concerning the data requirements was formatted according to the questionnaire developed by the project team:

- Section 1 - Industrial data requirements from environmental institute's point of view;
- Section 2 - Environmental data requirements from industrial point of view.

Significant results (deliverable D4):

Azerbaijan

Industrial data requirements include:

- data about oil extraction and pipelines
- quantity of the oil platforms
- information about high-technology oil extraction
- environmental impact assessment documentation
- work plan for improvement of the environment
- municipal discharges
- industrial discharges
- fisheries
- socioeconomic data including profile, type, and product output from different industrial enterprises.

Kazakhstan

Industrial data requirements:
The need for industrial data is illustrated by statistic yearbooks (available in RU-KZ) developed for Aktobe, Atyrau and Mangistau oblasts (2000-2007) which cover the basic socioeconomic indicators, as well as the data relative to environmental protection and sustainable development of the Atyrau and Mangistau areas of the Caspian coastal zone of Kazakhstan. There are several other examples available. Environmental requirements and standards for oil exploration and extraction, and other forms of industrial activity in Kazakhstan, as well as for the economic activities in the Kazakh part of the Caspian Sea shelf and coastal zone, are set under the national legislation, in a number of governmental regulations that ensure environmental protection of these areas.

Russia

Industrial information required by the environmental sector may be classified in two types. The first type characterises the impact of industrial facilities on the environment. The second type represents observation data obtained through environmental monitoring within the zone of the industrial facility impact. Here we refer to the observations conducted by the certain enterprise itself, within the post-project analysis, or in the course of the local industrial monitoring, because these activities are stipulated under relevant legislation.

The need for industrial data, in the whole, is represented by the following datasets:

- maritime transport
- fisheries
- marine oil and gas production
- coastal economy.

Environmental information required by the industrial sector may also be classified in two types. The first type is needed for feasibility studies (FS) and engineering design of industrial objects/ facilities. The second is required for environmental impact statement for construction / reconstruction of industrial objects including the environmental impact assessment (EIA). Environmental information required for preparation of FS and industrial facility projects is listed in the normative and methodological documents, which regulate execution of engineering research at seas and in the estuarine zones. A list of environmental information required for preparation of environmental impact statement including EIA is provided under the normative and methodological documents, which regulate the standards for permissible environmental impact and conducting EIA.

An inventory of information/ parameters describing the impact of industrial facilities on the environment is also provided. In accordance with specific environmental requirements for hydrocarbon exploration and extraction in the northern part of Caspian Sea, during development and exploitation stages, oil and gas companies are responsible for conducting hydro-meteorological observations, geodynamic monitoring, and observations on the sea surface pollution by oil film in the location of fixed oil and gas installations. Parameters of observations on the marine environmental status within the area under industrial facility impact are in compliance with the Standard programme for industrial environmental monitoring executed by the oil and gas companies operative in the Russian sector of the Caspian Sea.

WP2-2: Remote sensing data

Specific objectives

- To define remote sensing data requirements for a web portal.
- To review the state of the art of remote sensing products.
- To identify gaps and barriers in the exploitation of remote sensing products.
- To formulate strategies to improve capabilities to utilise remote sensing products.

Methodology

The team designed and distributed a questionnaire to gather feedback from project partners. An expert from an external industrial company (AGIPKCO) was interviewed. The returned questionnaires were analysed and the results are provided in the deliverable. The assessment is based on partners' feedback as well as supporting scientific literature. The remote sensing data requirements for the Caspian web portal were not predetermined but had to be established by the team in collaboration with partners. A market analysis was carried out to define the state of the art of the global and European remote sensing sector. This review aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of how the remote sector could impact the Caspian Sea. Gaps in present remote sensing capabilities, barriers and bottlenecks that impede full exploitation of remote sensing and recommendations to bridge the gaps are also discussed.

Questionnaire

The questionnaire consisted of a series of questions with the objective to establish the partner profile, with particular reference to the use of remote sensing data. The questionnaire aimed at characterising data type, source, processing, sampling, etc. The questionnaire determined which kind of application the user has in mind for remote sensing data and which parameters are of special interest. The questionnaire attempted to define the requirements for auxiliary data and the preferred distribution.

Significant results (deliverable D5)

The questionnaire was analysed on an aggregate basis by clustering the answers in seven categories to better understand existing practices among respondents in handling remote sensing data. Partners show a wide range of experiences in environmental and industrial remote sensing uses. They are active in a broad spectrum of applications in marine, land and even air domains. They produce remote sensing outputs at a range of spatial and temporal scales in accordance with their scientific scopes and business demands. Applications of remote sensing are so diverse that no single partner is able to cover the whole spectrum of applications.

Partners may serve different market segments, including:

- land monitoring
- natural resource management
- oil and gas exploration and production
- defence and security.

There are common areas and topics to improve cooperation between oil and gas production and R&D sectors.

Examples include:

- quantifying ecosystem change;
- understand how an ecosystem may be influenced by natural and anthropogenic stressors;
- monitoring recovery of areas after an oil field is no longer producing.

Remote sensing is seen as an important tool to monitor a site, region, country, or the Caspian Sea as a whole. Some sensible regions were identified. One of the advantages of using remote sensing observations is that this technique can provide data in the vast areas not covered by in situ sensors which usually run continuously, but in only a few places. There seems to be a consensus that remote sensing and in situ data are complementary. In situ data validate what the satellite sensors 'see' to ensure that accurate remotely sensed information is provided. Most partners will provide remote sensing products, rather than raw data. This means that these products will be subjected to some processing dependent on the partner's expertise. Most partners use intermediate data sources to produce displayable imagery adding an extra dimension to a raw data stream. Imagery includes maps obtained from data collected by one sensor or blending data coming from more sensors, customised visualisations, climatological atlases, etc. Visualisation is a crucial objective for the person who is doing the analysis and interpretation. The partners may collaborate with external organisations to offer customised solutions. Data and information are viewed as input to the research process for published papers. An image provides a sharper description of a contingent situation, an object or a spatial change. However, a single parameter of information is often extracted from the remotely sensed data.

WP2-3: Available data and information

Specific objectives WP2-3

To review available environmental and industrial data and information

Methodology

The project team has designed and distributed a comprehensive questionnaire, which covers the above-mentioned topics, thus providing an introductory overview of relevant currently information available in the Caspian region. The integrated approach used in structuring the questionnaire allows for the cross-linkage between its sections for better understanding and analysis of provided information. The summary of results provided a first insight into the partners' capacity and a valuable input for developing the service as regards the feasible options for populating the portal. The structure of the questionnaire features five sections: projects, data, maps, databases and satellite data.

Significant results (deliverable D6)

- An overview of the partners' capacity, with regard to their assumed roles in the project, specific roles under WP2, data and information availability and their feasible action potential.
- Characteristics of environmental, management and industrial data and information in possession of project partners.
- Information on available local databases.
- List of available remote sensing data and products.
- Availability and accessibility conditions of environmental, industrial and legal data and information in possession of the partners.

The projects revealed a wide diversity of topics under basic and applied research, and represent a unique source of reference data as such.

Data and information obtained under the projects refer to the following major areas:

- oceanographic sciences
- geology and related sciences
- hydrometeorology and hydrology
- water chemistry
- biology
- environmental sciences
- socioeconomic sciences.

A great number of projects was conducted in partnership with the other organisations, demonstrating multi-sector / diversified approach to data collection and processing, particularly, when an integrated assessment presented an essential project outcome. It should be noted that the 'management' projects were virtually absent in the inventory. Another characteristic feature is the lack of projects that involve legal aspects of industrial activities, whereas this is an extremely important part of any economy, especially those branches based on exploitation of natural resources. Data requirements from environmental, management and industrial point of view are considered under deliverable D4 titled 'Report on data requirements from environmental, management and industrial point of view'.

In the whole, overview of data and information available at the partners allows for wide perspectives in improved and sustainable cooperation between the Caspian marine science, government/ management, and oil and gas industry within the sea in terms of:

- exchange of environmental, management and industrial data between the Caspian stakeholders;
- initiating a dialog between the key actors involved in the Caspian environmental issues on the best appropriate policies and management instruments;
- undertaking joint initiatives aimed at sustainable development of the Caspian Sea region.

WP2-4: Data and information topics and functions

Specific objectives

- To fine-tune the planned functional specifications of the Service and its data and information offer, considering the outcome of the activities WP2-1 and WP2-3.
- To provide the basic input for WP4 and WP3 coordinated by MARIS, but in discussion with all partners.

Significant results (deliverable D7)

- A summary of the deliverable 4, 5 and 6, translating this into requirements for the CASPINFO system.
- The system should be able to store meta information of very diverse information.
- Remote sensing data is a good alternative for gathering information. A catalogue with references to these sources is needed.
- Metadata of all information sources needs to be stored in a structured way enabling the creation of good discovery interfaces in the system, supplying the user a good overview.
- The use of internationally agreed metadata standards fits well in making the information discoverable in a structured way.

WP3: Collecting meta-information and populating meta-databases

General objectives

To adopt and implement internationally agreed protocols for cataloguing Caspian Sea environmental and industrial datasets by collecting metadata and populating standardised meta-directories, and preparing exchange formats for the data sets, managed by the regional partners.

WP3 was composed of four sub-work packages:

- WP3-1: Preparing metadata of partner's datasets and of relevant organisations;
- WP3-2: Preparing overviews of research projects and monitoring networks reports by partners;
- WP3-3: Preparing entries for the common data index, including availability details, access conditions and data exchange formats;
- WP3-4: Making an inventory of additional data and information objects.

WP3-1: Preparing metadata of partner's datasets and of relevant organisations
All Caspian partners prepared standardised metadata entries of datasets identified within their institutes. This also included datasets, collected within FP5 and FP6 Caspian Sea projects. The datasets are described in EDMED format and entered in the EDMED discovery catalogue service. Besides EDMED, Caspian Sea partners also contributed to the European Directory of Marine Organisations. EDMED as well as EDMO belong to the major catalogues that are maintained within the ongoing FP6 SEADATANET project. For entry use is made of the entry tools that already have been developed and are operated by SEADATANET.

WP3-2: Preparing overviews of research projects and monitoring networks reports
Caspian Sea partners have prepared entries for their institutes to another important catalogue that is supported internationally and maintained by SEADATANET: EDMERP. This action deals with creating overviews of marine and environmental research projects (European Directory of Marine Environmental Research Projects (EDMERP)). The directory of marine monitoring systems and stations: European Directory of Ocean-observing Stations (EDIOS) has been postponed due to insufficient tools from SEADATANET. Alternatively, the website provides an overview of active monitoring of the Caspian Sea in the Russian Federation. This information was provided by KASPMNIZ.

WP3-3: Preparing entries for the common data index (CDI)

Part of the CASPINFO service infrastructure is a so-called CDI data discovery and access service that provides a highly detailed index to individual datasets, managed by regional partners. The CDI is an important key to the actual dataset delivery because it specifies per individual dataset its reference / file name / database key, access conditions and availability details. The CDI is initiated within Sea-Search and further upgraded within SEADATANET. It has an ISO-19115 compliant XML format, which supports Internet interoperability and follows the principles of INSPIRE. The CDI is prepared for automatic generation from major databases but can also be used as a primary local meta-database by partners that not yet have a local database but rely on a system of data files. In that case the CDI can function on a PC configuration as local index to these data files. This CDI development is interesting for the Caspian Sea regional partners which are already operating Internet based systems. The following partners provided CDI entries: IGAZ, SIO-RAS, SOI, CEP and SIEE. SIO-RAS, SIEE and SOI are actually connected to the CDI system.

WP3-4: Making an inventory

Next to the marine environmentally oriented meta-databases, partners identified and prepared a detailed inventory of other available data and information:

- digital thematic maps related to the oil and gas industry, and marine environment;
- catalogue and digital library of legal frameworks;
- locations and details of oil and gas installations;
- environmental maps and analyses, based upon satellite images;
- scientist information.

Highlighting of clearly significant results (related deliverables D8, D9 and D10)

During months 1 - 18, the Caspian Sea partners took part in a special training workshop in Belgium at the IOC-IODE programme office. They received instructions about the SEADATANET tools needed to supply the EDMED and EDMO information. Also the procedure has been explained, with special attention for the role of the National Oceanographic Data Centre (NODC) who is the central player in the country for collating information, quality checking, and forwarding the information to the central databases. IGKZ and IGAZ have been appointed NODC for their countries. The initial entries in EDMO have been made as well as the first practice XML records using MIKADO. All Caspian Sea regional partners have been active in the training regarding metadata entries and presenting initial information on their datasets and other information and on their system descriptions. During the last year of the project, all available information has been supplied to the central catalogues.

One of the main activities of the training workshop was transferring CDI knowledge and principles to the Caspian Sea regional partners, learning them to prepare CDI entries for their datasets, and providing support in structuring their local data management configurations, with a further aim to connect them to the Caspian Sea infrastructure. The basis for the inventory of additional data and information objects was laid with the questionnaire. All partners have contributed to this questionnaire supplying already insight in their available information. This information has been introduced in the content management system. In the last year of the project the partners supplied and entered their meta-information to the various directories via the tools provided. An overview of the achieved entries in the various directories is given in the attachment and can be seen at the website http://www.caspinfo.net

WP4: Development CASPINFO information service
General objectives

- To develop and to deliver the information service according to the specifications.
- Development of a dedicated front-end user interface for retrieval and presentation of the specified catalogues. The concerning metadata for the user interface is fed by the catalogue web services of SEADATANET, which can be considered as back-end system.
- Regulation of access to data because CASPINFO deals with different data policies of public and private source holders. Metadata are public; security is important for data access which is covered by the CDI service.
- Arranging and coordinating implementation of the CDI component at the sites of those Caspian Sea regional partners, which already are operating Internet based systems.
- Implementation of an access service capable to deal with partners that have online systems, but also with partners that manage data in offline systems. The access service contains a shopping basket mechanism, including a transaction register for registering and processing all requests from the central portal to the distributed partners.
- Extra compared to DoW: A CMS for specific CASPINFO information sources from WP3-4.

WP4-1: Developing the website (deliverable D11)

During the first months of the project, the first release of the web portal has been created and launched under http://www.caspinfo.net presenting the backgrounds, objectives, and partners and set-up of the project. An extranet has been installed and structured for uploading - downloading of project documents to share these between project partners. A logo and style has been created, which will also be used in further dissemination activities. MARIS led the project website development and developed the extranet. WP4-1 was finalised during months 1 - 18. During the last year, the website content was maintained with news items, and extended when certain components were released.

WP4-2: Conceptual design information service (deliverable D12)

The conceptual design has been prepared as a co-production by MSU, MARIS and HNODC describing in detail the different elements of the web system including functionalities. It addresses how to make optimal use of the SEADATANET developments and components, how to achieve a 'seamless' connection to the SEADATANET infrastructure, and where to integrate CASPINFO's own developments. MSU focused on the creation of the CMS, and the seamless integration of the SEADATANET infrastructure: Discovery services for EDMED, EDMO, EDMERP. MARIS focused on web portal development, and the integration of the Caspian version of the CDI V1 data access portal. And HNODC worked on the concept of a Google Maps demonstrator with Caspian Sea data sources related to oil and gas activities.

WP4-3: Development information service

The information service as specified in the conceptual design has the following elements:

1) Discovery services
2) Access services: Common data interface, shopping basket and transaction register
3) Viewing services: User interface for retrieval and presentation as well as a mapping tool using an OpenGIS system and providing geographical services, such as WMS, and WFS and also to be applied for retrieval and presentation of thematic maps, presenting and giving access to attribute information on socioeconomic features, oil and gas industry activities, marine and maritime infrastructure, legal information, etc. It also contains alternative Google Maps demonstrator viewing service of oil and gas related activities.
4) Security Services for user registration and controlled access, based on common data policy for CDI.
5) Maintenance services for the directories: Development of a content management system to maintain the content of the directories.

MSU developed the discovery services on all directories (except CDI), the maintenance system for the directories and contributed to the viewing services. MARIS realised the discovery and access services for CDI and contributed to the viewing services. HNODC informed about the SEADATANET CDI security services, and developed the Google Earth demonstrator.

Highlighting of clearly significant results WP4-3

CASPINFO data access via CDI

During the project, the main focus concerning CDI was to make an analysis of the data access (CDI) possibilities of the partners (see deliverable D9). The initial step to achieve this was transferring CDI knowledge and principles to the Caspian Sea regional data holding partners, learning them to prepare CDI entries for their datasets, and providing support in structuring their local data management configurations, with a further aim to connect them to the Caspian Sea infrastructure. A couple of partners have come as far as submitting CDI files for some of their Caspian Sea data sets, a good result. MARIS has therefore developed a specific CDI user interface to discover order and download data. This follows exactly the system as it is developed under SEADATANET.

Use of the SEADATANET meta-databases

- The new collected entries have been submitted to the SEADATANET directory managers for inclusion in the SEADATANET directories.
- Thereafter the directories have been built as local buffers that are automatically maintained by the SEADATANET web services (EDMO / EDMERP) or direct XML import (EDMED).
- User interfaces have been built around these local buffers for filtering and searching plus viewing details, including locations on a map.
- OGC protocols for WMS and WFS have been taken into account in the map viewing services.

Use of meta-directories

- The database structure has been set up using field definitions from international standards as basis.
- A Content management system has been developed to maintain the databases content.
- User interfaces have been built on top of these databases for filtering and searching plus viewing details, including locations on a map.
- OGC protocols for WMS and WFS have been taken into account in the map viewing services and the catalogue of map services.
- Existing CEP records have been exported and loaded into the databases as basis for the directories on scientists and research publications.

Illustrations of the services can be found in the attachment or online via http://www.caspinfo.net

Google Maps demonstrator

The Google Maps demonstrator of CASPINFO aimed to provide an alternative visualisation example compared to the regular map services in the portal which is more open. The demonstrator has the form of a web GIS application which presents geographically environmental, industrial, social and marine data and information around the Caspian Sea. It allows investigating the possibilities of Google Maps and to supply via an easy interface to the website user information about the industrial pressure towards the environment of the Caspian Sea.

Advantages of the Google API engine regarding web applications are:

- easy development
- high performance
- high availability
- more than one platforms of development
- free to get started
- use of Google infrastructure
- is now an international standard maintained by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC).

Obstacles during development were not related to the Google Maps interface, but related to the availability of datasets and the quality of the information:

- Lack of data sets and in particular datasets relevant to information concerning oil and gas industry activities in Caspian Sea.
- Two datasets with this type of information (oil wells and pipelines) were received from Caspian Environment Programme (CEP). This is not sufficient to show the link between industrial pressure and marine environment.
- Another obstacle is that the most of the map layers concerning environmental, ecological and marine information do not have meaningful information for the end user. These datasets do not have any information about quantities, observations species metadata, etc.
The conclusion of the development is that Google Maps is an interesting and user-friendly manner to present maps, however it is not suitable as a real geographic information system (GIS), as it is hard to show full data of map objects. Apart from this, it is hard to retrieve oil and gas related data files.

WP5: Dissemination activities and defining an operation model

General objectives

- To undertake dissemination, public outreach and promotional activities to make possible user communities and providers of additional data and information aware of the CASPINFO initiative.
- To explore and define a model for a sustainable operation annex exploitation of the CASPINFO service, taking into account public and private data and information.

WP5.1: Public outreach, promotion and dissemination

Specific objectives

- To develop a dissemination plan including dissemination and public outreach strategy during project and after project end.
- To organise promotion and dissemination activities.

Methodology

CASPINFO aimed at strengthening the regional capacity and performance of marine environmental data and information management and adoption of international metadata standards and data-management practices, involving stakeholders from management, research and industry.

During months 3-10 of the project, a dissemination plan has been drafted deliverable D14 and D17, including:

- dissemination and public outreach strategy during project and after project end;
- potential dissemination activities;
- partner involvement and their responsibilities.

The dissemination plan has formed the basis for the outreach activities during the project. Within the framework of public outreach during the project, an end-user consultation has been organised among the marine environmental institutes, marine industries and governmental organisations not represented in the project, using partner's national and international networks.

Significant results (deliverable D14 and D17)

The promotion and dissemination plan consists of the following subjects:

- end-user and stakeholders consultation
- promotion and dissemination
- raising public awareness
- exploitation after project end
- logo.

Questionnaire

During June-August 2009, a questionnaire has been drafted and distributed to potential end-users and stakeholders of the Caspian Sea. The objective of the questionnaire was to collect information from potential end-users and stakeholders regarding Caspian Sea service.

Promotion and dissemination has been organised through the following activities.

- CEP: Scheduling CASPINFO presentations including discussions on the agenda of regular meetings and thematic working groups of EC (partner CEP).
- Ocean Teacher programme of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission - International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IOC-IODE): Implementation of Caspian Sea region in regional training and education programmes for students and researchers (partner IOC-IODE). Ocean Teacher provides training tools for oceanographic data and information management, which can be used for self-training and continuous professional development.
- E-mail newsletters, posters and brochures.
- Publications and presentations at conferences.
- Publicity via regional newspapers, radio and TV.

The project has been promoted through the project website (see http://www.caspinfo.net online), web portals of the Caspian Sea country partners as well as by the Permanent Secretariat of the Black Sea Commission. Partner SOCAR published an article in the Azerbaijan oil industry magazine.

Raising public participation and awareness:

The information infrastructure web portal, after registration, the general public can have open access and be able to participate in interactive discussions. A special section is devoted to the general public, which will be provided by the Caspian Sea country partners. Part of the descriptive information of the Caspian Sea virtual data and information infrastructure web portal is devoted to the general public target group.

This part in contains information about:

- the present state of the Caspian Sea ecosystem;
- the threat of biodiversity;
- protection, rehabilitation and sustainable development;
- the way the general public can contribute hereto;
- the information about Caspian Sea service including in which way for the project for protection, rehabilitation and sustainable development;
- distribution of user-friendly information folders about Caspian Sea;
- distribution of Caspian Sea end products and other recent and ongoing projects in which partners have been or are involved;
- Caspian Sea service news website.

Within CASPINFO there is a mix of marine environmental, industrial, socioeconomic, and legal data and information, partly public and partly private data. The difference in data policies between partners has been identified and derived from this a common data policy has been defined, that. Formulating and introducing a user license agreement that will differentiate between types of data and information and between user groups can achieve this. The service will be a public service but there might be exploitation options for part of the data. These cases have to be identified and worked out.

WP5-2: Formulation of a common data policy

Within CASPINFO there is a mix of marine environmental, industrial, socioeconomic, and legal data and information, partly public and partly private data. The differences in data policies between partners will be identified and derived and from this a common data policy will be defined. Formulating and introducing a user license agreement that will differentiate between types of data and information and between user groups can achieve this.

Highlighting of clearly significant results (deliverable D15)

Report on common data policy

- SOCAR has developed a document to describe a common data policy valid for the CASPINFO project. This document has been finalised together with MARIS and presented to the partners for agreement.
- Formulation of common data policy takes into account differences in data policies between the scientific, management and industrial data providers.
- The CASPINFO service data policy is consistent with, and in the spirit of, national and international policies and laws. Applicable international policies or laws are those related to UN conventions, policies of international bodies often within the UN, policies and laws of the EU.
- The CASPINFO service adopts the SEADATANET data policy and is intended to be fully compatible with the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on public access to environmental information, the INSPIRE Directive, IOC, ICES, WMO, GCOS, GEOSS, the Aarhus convention data principles.

Related deliverable:

D15 Report on common data policy.

WP5-3: Sustainable operation and possible exploitation

At the end of the project, the CASPINFO service was fully operational and online available by Internet. Arrangements have been established for the use, content and software maintenance and long-term operation of the facility beyond the project period. This includes arrangements for the operation of the portal site, but also for maintenance of metadatabases, thematic maps, and other data and information resources by partners.

Significant results (deliverable D16)

The arrangements have been described in an exploitation plan and formalised in a signed agreement by most partners. This exploitation and maintenance plan is meant to secure the maintenance of the infrastructure products and arrange possible exploitation of system developments.

The final exploitation and maintenance plan and agreement include:

- terms of reference and partners agreement on sustainable continuation of the CASPINFO and its virtual infrastructure;
- terms of reference and partners agreement on the exploitation, signed by all partners;
- juridical and legislation matters;
- technical maintenance and exploitation agreement on services developed during the BSS project for the partners of WP5;
- content maintenance agreement to be signed by all partners that contribute to the various directories;
- exploitation conditions for the technical components.

Related deliverables

- D16 Sustainable operation model (exploitation plan) and Agreement (signed).
- D17 Final plan for the use and dissemination of foreground information.

Potential impact

Achieved impact

Fostering improved cooperation between marine science and the private sector

CASPINFO brought together a partnership of leading representatives of science sector, of governmental policy and management sector, private sector, and international policy and management sector that together have cooperated and exchanged data and information for establishing the CASPINFO data and information service.

CASPINFO improved the cooperation between marine scientists, the involved governments and the oil and gas industry in the Caspian Sea, concerning:

- exchange of environmental, management and industrial data between public and private environmental institutes, governmental organisations and industrial companies involved in the oil and gas industry;
- overview, availability and accessibility of required environmental, management and industrial data;
- mutual tuning of data and information requirements for environmental management, research and oil and gas industry activities;
- initiating a dialog on how to achieve a more environmental justified oil and gas exploration/exploitation;
- considering use of appropriate management and policy instruments and taking benefit from an improved data and information provision.

Mutual understanding between environmental science and oil and gas industry in order to reduce and where possible avoid possible damage of the marine ecosystem due to industrial activities, role of EIAs, weighing of economic and environmental interests

CASPINFO provides the environmental scientific society more and better environmental data and data about industrial activities, so that they can determine in an improved way the environmental impact of oil and gas exploration / exploitation at specific geographic locations. This serves the oil and gas industry, because it needs from environmental science improved EIAs to enable and to justify new gas and oil exploration / exploitation activities. Besides environmental science and oil and gas industry also national governments and international bodies were involved as important stakeholders, dealing with environmental and industrial (economic) policy development, management and administration.

Contribution to the coordination of high quality research

High quality research on the marine environment of the Caspian Sea by regional scientists and by international scientists can benefit considerably from the CASPINFO service because it facilitates the identification and access to available data and information. This effect is enlarged because the service also supports interoperability with other European data management systems, and is compliant to the INSPIRE directive. This makes the system and its contents fit for use with various existing applications, enables a combined access to marine data on a wide geographical basis for all seas in and around Europe, and provides an invitation to the international science community to participate in research for the Caspian Sea.

Interoperability and harmonisation has been achieved by adopting common protocols, standards and formats and by making use of already existing tools for data and information management and by developing CASPINFO in coordination with ongoing major EU-funded projects in marine data and information management, namely SEADATANET, BLACK SEA SCENE and UPGRADE BLACK SEA SCENE.

- SEADATANET (see http://www.seadatanet.org/ online), funded for a five-year period under the Research Infrastructures programme of the EU Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), aims at developing an efficient distributed pan-European marine data management Infrastructure for managing large and diverse data sets. It is undertaken by NODCs from 35 countries riparian to European seas. SEADATANET is also engaged in the development of marine core services under the GMES programme and has active collaboration with the MerSea community, focusing on ocean forecasting services, with the EuroGOOS community of ocean monitoring agencies, and with the GIS community in Europe via the Humboldt project, contributing to the development of a European spatial data infrastructure.
- BLACK SEA SCENE (see http://www.blackseascene.net online), funded for a three-year period under the Research Infrastructures programme of the EU FP6, aimed at establishing a Black Sea scientific network of 25 leading environmental and socioeconomic research institutes, universities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from the countries around the Black Sea and to develop a virtual data and information infrastructure. BLACK SEA SCENE has been developed in mutual tuning with SEADATANET and can be considered as a 'satellite' project of SEADATANET.
- UPGRADE BLACK SEA SCENE (see http://www.blackseascene.net online), the successor to BLACK SEA SCENE. UPGRADE BLACK SEA SCENE, a three-year funded project, will be finalised in December 2011.

CASPINFO has adopted the approach by SEADATANET and applied their principles of achieving interoperability between data management systems and of achieving largely improved overview and access to data for users and their applications. Moreover there has been made use of the SEADATANET infrastructure modules. This is e.g. very relevant in the field of metadata, the so-called discovery services, where CASPINFO made direct use of the SEADATANET entry and management systems. This gives a seamless communication between the SEADATANET infrastructure and the CASPINFO service, supporting combined and efficient use of all data sources, covered within the systems, to users. This way CASPINFO can be considered as an extension of the SEADATANET infrastructure to a new interesting marine region: the Caspian Sea, just like within the BLACK SEA SCENE projects.

However there is an extra dimension: within CASPINFO there is a mix of marine environmental whether from in situ or space-based platforms, industrial, socioeconomic, and legal data and information, partly public and partly private data. It also brings in different types of data and information, non-environmental, such as locations of oil and gas installations, licence areas, legal info etc. Dealing with these extra dimensions has been a great challenge and solutions found for the Caspian Sea must be of great interest to other regions. CASPINFO coordinator MARIS is also coordinator of the BLACK SEA SCENE projects and technical coordinator of the SEADATANET project.

European impact in general

CASPINFO demonstrates how scientific and technological capacities, needed to preserve marine ecosystems and to protect biodiversity against impact from industrial activities, in particular oil and gas industry, can be strengthened. It has encouraged international cooperation between governments, private and public environmental institutes and industrial companies to achieve common strategies for decreasing the impact on the marine environment due to oil and gas exploration / exploitation. CASPINFO has also encouraged international cooperation between Caspian countries and EU Member States, which is an ongoing process through the service encouraging and enabling sharing and exchange of metadata and data.

CASPINFO adopted international standards to ensure compatibility and easy integration of the data sets in the regular practice of ocean and environmental research through tuning with SEADATANET, BLACK SEA SCENE and IOC. This invites European researchers to participate in Caspian Sea research.

CASPINFO confirmed and promoted the international role of community research: consortium of European partners, but in close cooperation with Eastern European research institutes and oil and gas companies.

CASPINFO strengthened the European Research Area (ERA) by establishing a critical mass of environmental and industrial source holders of marine and industrial datasets, experts in data management and data services and marine environmental scientists, that together developed and exploit a data service, that can be of added value to the research community and other groups in society, such as oil and gas industry itself, and for example, engineers and coastal managers. This way the project addresses priorities of the EC concerning strengthening the ERA, because it contributes to a valuable expansion of the European marine infrastructure that will serve the European researchers. Moreover, CASPINFO has set a remarkable example and demonstration to other industry groups and oil and gas companies in other regions. CASPINFO is demonstrating that it is possible, very effective and beneficial to share and to exchange industry data sets and knowledge with the research community and other types of users, without losing control and giving unlimited access. This demonstration will motivate and convince other industry groups and other divisions of the oil and gas companies to follow this example.

All together CASPINFO resulted in:

- strongly improved and sustainable data and information exchange between (public and private) environmental, governmental and industrial stakeholders within the Caspian Sea region;
- improved mutual understanding as well as cooperation between environmental science and oil and gas industry in favour of environmental justified oil and gas exploration and exploitation;
- sustainable network with direct involvement of the main data and information stakeholders within the Caspian Sea;
- creation of sustainable data and information service.

Dissemination activities

Any initiative that aims to promote and disseminate accessibility and availability of data and information must be end-user driven and therefore partners have been proactive in seeking out views of the end-users community and in creating awareness among potential users of the benefits of the new facility for their applications. Therefore, promotion and dissemination were an essential part of the project development and for all partners. Partners SOCAR, MARIS and IOC-IODE together with other partners prepared a dissemination and promotion plan (deliverable D14), incorporating activities that could be undertaken by each of the partners towards their networks and contacts.

This plan includes:

- dissemination strategy during project and after project end;
- potential dissemination activities;
- partner's involvement and their responsibilities;
- dissemination through the portal/service.

Groups of potential end-users and stakeholders

Within the operation annex exploitation model all public and private interests from different points of view have to be incorporated to establish a sustainable future.

The consortium is rather unique, because it comprises key players in the following fields:

- public marine environmental institutes (data source holders): SOI, IEE, SIO, IGE, SCER, IGAZ, IGKZ, DU;
- international environmental organisations: UNDP-CEP, BSCS;
- governmental stakeholders represented by: UNDP-CEP, SCER, IGAZ, IGKZ;
- industrial companies: oil and gas company SOCAR and other marine industries that have been contacted and engaged via the end-user consultation and dissemination;
- exchange experiences between Black Sea and Caspian Sea: BSCS;
- intermediary environment - oil and gas industry: KASPMNIZ;
- data management specialists: MARIS, MSU, HNODC, IOC-IODE;
- tuning with the SEADATANET infrastructure: HNODC, IOC-IODE, MARIS;
- policy, coordination and dissemination key players: CEP, BSCS, IOC.

In general, the promotion and dissemination activities during the project have been targeted on the following potential main groups:

- scientific community;
- fish industry, offshore oil and gas industry, shipping and other;
- Caspian Sea commission and its advisory groups and regional activity centres, national experts and decision-makers within the Caspian Sea countries;
- stakeholder and end-users of the Caspian Sea virtual data and information infrastructure;
- public in general.

These activities will continue as part of the agreed exploitation between partners.

In particular, communication has been targeted and taken place towards the following organisations:

- academy, research institutes (state, public and private) within Caspian Sea region: academy of science and different institutes of geology, geophysical, geography, botany, microbiology, zoology, fish industry, space study, ecology and evolution, oceanology, geosciences and geo-environment, state oceanographic institute and other scientific research institute, public and private laboratory and company;
- socioeconomic institutions / organisations: from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy and other EU Member States, worldwide with interest and/or participating in researches and data of the Caspian Sea environmental, ecosystems and biodiversity;
- world environmental research infrastructures with interest in the Caspian Sea environment: UNDP, UNESCO, Commission for the Water Bio Recourses of the Caspian Sea, CEP, Cites, and other world organisation;
- education organisations: academy, universities, students and post-graduated, scientific / technical education schools, college, vocational school, vocational education;
- international organisations: EU, UNEP, UNDP-CEP, IOC, Caspian Sea Cites, WWF, EEA, UNESCO and other, International (public) Academy of Sciences;
- national governments and government agencies: national Caspian Sea governments, regional authorities of the Caspian Sea governments, national and international bodies and committees, Caspian Sea municipalities;
- marine industries: gas and oil, shipping, commercial fishery, sustainable energy, communication (cables), marine dredging/beach nourishment, pipelines, defence, infrastructure for emergency situations, infrastructure constructions, land reclamation, tourism and recreation, human health;
- representative groups of general public: NGOs, environment and sustainable development journalists, paternal and work-trade organisations, professional associations, youth organisations, art for environment cultural organisations, local communities and citizen groups.

Exploitation of results:

Within the consortium, discussions took place and an agreement was made for a long-term arrangement for the operation of the service, including possibilities for exploitation of part of the service offer. The first step was establishing a common data policy (deliverable D15), taking into account the present differences in data policy between the partners involved (marine science-government-industry). The common data policy is the basis for a sustainable operation model annex exploitation plan / agreement (deliverable D16).

This plan includes:

- organisation model for operation of the service;
- service level agreement (SLA) with terms of reference and duties of operating partners for a sustained continuation of the CASPINFO service, including maintenance and updating procedures;
- terms of reference and partners agreement on options for partly exploiting CASPINFO.

Project website: http://www.caspinfo.net

Related information

Contact

VAN DER VAART, Reinier (Administrator)
Tel.: +31-703-194101
Fax: +31-703-903546
E-mail
Record Number: 55813 / Last updated on: 2013-01-18
Information source: SESAM
Collaboration sought: N/A