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Bathymetry Service Platform

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BASE-platform (Bathymetry Service Platform)

Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2017-11-30

Bathymetry is the measure of water depth, similar to underwater topography. Up to date bathymetric data is essential for multiple purposes such as navigation, port and offshore construction, security, coastal zone management, fishery, cruising, and tourism. Hence, it is required by various user groups from many different sectors. Conventional and well accepted methods to survey the seafloor are either ship or aircraft based, and are costly and time consuming. For these reasons, extended areas of water in Europe and worldwide are not mapped to sufficient accuracy, or existing data is out of date. The demand for current bathymetric data is obvious and its lack causes risks to navigation and concerns to the offshore industry.

Earth Observation (EO) data, especially the Copernicus mission, plays a key role to overcome this lack of data. BASE-platform focuses on Satellite Derived Bathymetry (SDB) as an innovative, rapid and cost effective approach to determine bathymetry from space. SDB in combination with hydrodynamic models to minimize tidal effects and crowd sourced bathymetry (CSB) for validation purposes provides up-to-date and accurate bathymetric data. The BASE-platform data is accessible through a commercial platform.

The main objective of BASE-platform is to provide easy and online access to up to date bathymetric data derived from current and upcoming Copernicus and other satellite data. More specific objectives are the improvement of EO-based technologies to produce bathymetric data, the demonstration of the commercial value of BASE-platform’s EO products and services, the creation of a service platform where the products can be purchased, visualized and customized, and to increase the client base and to raise awareness of EO-based bathymetric data.

During the project lifetime, all data providing partners in the project improved their existing algorithms for data generation, reducing the time and effort for data processing. A merging process was successfully developed and implemented to combine the different sources of bathymetry data into one single dataset. Studies comparing BASE-platform data to available third-party data proved its reliability. The consortium partners attended multiple events to spread the idea of SDB and SDB data, for example by a full scientific session entitled “Space Bathymetry” at the Hydro16 conference presented entirely by consortium partners. The BASE-platform data portal was developed and can now be used by customers.
Shortly after the beginning of the project, the first project website, still only for providing information on the project, was set up, along with initial materials to hand out on exhibitions and conferences the partners would attend. Also, the needs of future clients were gathered, primarily from experience and individual contacts the partners had in day-to-day business. The plan to host a user workshop just for collecting requirements was abandoned since clients would hardly be willing to spend travel time and budget for this and the number of clients attending would be rather small. As improvement, the consortium decided on a creating an online user questionnaire where thousands of potential clients were invited to participate. In parallel, work on improving the algorithms and workflows started. The four use case areas, defined by existing clients’ requests, each had different challenges for the data providers, which also helped to make the algorithms and workflows better suited for the project. They also allowed for developing good data merging routines working under varying conditions. All these contributed to the main tasks of the innovation actions be finished in time during the first half of the project; all data providers had achieved significant progress improving data quality and automating their processing chain. This allows generating bathymetric data with little effort, a key factor to remaining competitive later on.

Beginning from the first of three progress meetings, initial concepts of future business planning and cooperation were presented and continuously improved. A prototype of the data portal, along with first data from the use cases, could be shown to more than 50 interested clients in our first online user workshop hosted in Barcelona, along with our second progress meeting. Soon after, the website was updated and later merged with the data portal, creating the current web site and offering all users the possibility to request data and, after registration, download the data from the use cases for free.
With the innovation actions completed, data providers were focusing on finishing the use cases and starting the generation of the off-the-shelf data to be available for direct purchase when the portal launches at the end of the project. Business planning continued with an additional business meeting, were the future cooperation between the partners to run BASE-platform was decided. This was further refined at the third progress meeting in Munich, where also the second online workshop was hosted, this time attended by more than 60 interested clients. The portal had already lead to more than a dozen requests until then, but this quickly doubled during the next following weeks.

In the two years, all partners have attended several events to talk about BASE-platform in person. At Hydro2016 in Rostock, an entire session was given by consortium members on the developments in space-based bathymetry and hydrography. The project also had a stand at the OceanBusiness2017 in Southampton, were many people showed high interest in the new ways of acquiring cheap bathymetric data; also, a workshop was hosted there for the exhibition attendees. This being the two events with most participation and a high user outreach, a total of 12 events were attended during the two years. So far, 11 publications have been published on the project with more being prepared or in review.

At the end of the project, the bathymetric algorithms and processing chain are capable of generating reliable data with little effort, the data portal is online, offering free data from the use cases as well as over 1800 tiles (1° by 1° each) of off-the-shelf data, and has already generated several dozen requests from clients worldwide. The future of BASE-platform is ensured by an agreement between the partners.
With BASE-platform, the participating bathymetric data providers all extended their algorithms to offer a service for combined bathymetry data which is new to the market. While individual satellite-derived bathymetry (SDB) data was offered before by consortium partners and competitors, the project has enabled the generation of a single bathymetry data portal combining all currently available SDB technologies and crowd-sourced bathymetry, which simplifies the user’s workflow to request data.

BASE-platform products are positioned between very expensive ship sounding bathymetry data, offering high resolution and accuracy, and freely available data with coarse resolution and often based on severely deprecated measurements. The marine industry, which is growing due to extensions of renewable energies offshore, the ongoing growth of global trading, and other factors, will benefit from BASE-platform data as additional, reliable data source where the costs of conventional studies are too high for their use and the lack of reliability of free data is not acceptable.
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