By Zdenka Willis, Veraison Consulting
The Dialogue With Industry, Draft Synthesis Report, released at Ocean Business, is now available and over the next four months. We need your help to prioritize the actions and recommendations and tells us what will motive you to participate with us to accelerate the Ocean Enterprise. Until now, vital ocean observing activities that underpin human safety, marine health, blue economies, and sustainable development have largely been managed by the scientific sector and pillared on public projects. But today, private companies are stepping into the field with promising opportunities for a blue data and services revolution.
Our societies rely on ocean observations and services every day. Yet, the importance of the whole Ocean Information Value Chain – from data collection to user services – is not recognized. This builds a barrier to growing the Ocean Enterprise.
To understand the opportunities and barriers, the Marine Technology Society, the Global Ocean Observing System coordinated by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conduct a series entitled – Dialogues with Industry. The Dialogues, held from September 2022 to January 2023, were curated conversations that brought together 87 invited participants and more than 400 observers from forty countries, and included representatives from private (for-profit and nonprofit/NGO) entities, governmental and other public bodies, as well as the academic sector.
Ocean Information Value Chain
The four Dialogues were structured around the Ocean Information Value Chain, enabling in-depth discussion around each stage. The Draft Synthesis report analyzed more than 400 recommendations received and grouped them into four areas and 12 categories that reflect essential pathways to grow the Ocean Enterprise.
A teaser of opportunities to grow the Ocean Enterprise:
- The Ocean Enterprise is not perceived as critical infrastructure as is the Weather Enterprise – that perception must change.
- Industry participants identified the lack of standards as a significant barrier to growth. Standards level the playing field but must be adopted by all.
- Blue investment is considered risky. Ocean observing and services can de-risk Blue Investment but investors are not aware of the Ocean Enterprise’s capacity.
The Dialogues with Industry participants pointed to the oncoming blue data revolution through sensor transformations that will allow us to take a closer look into ocean biogeochemistry and marine life. “There’s no single sensor or sampler technology that can solve all of our problems. The future lies in finding the right combination of devices and the platforms on which they are deployed to address specific use cases,” says Dr. Christopher Scholin, President and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
Early Career Ocean Professionals at the Glider School – a reference training school in marine glider technology held annually by the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN) Credit: PLOCAN
The need for talent in the private sector is a large limiting factor for industries to develop their workforce and scale their production. The private sector can provide a wide array of rewarding careers that students might not be aware of, and to raise this awareness we need stronger coordination with educational systems. We want students to think: ‘Oh, that’s another potential job path for me. I could do this for a living. I could work on something I really care about,’” says Clara Hulburt, Product Line Manager at Teledyne Technologies.
Zdenka Saba Willis, L.L.D. is the CEO of Veraison Consulting, focusing on ocean technology and policy. She retired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Senior Executive Service where she was the founding Director of the United States Integrated Ocean Observing Systems (IOOS®) Office. From 2006 to 2007, she was the Director of NOAA’s National Oceanographic Data Center. Ms. Willis retired with the rank of Captain from the United States Navy. Ms. Willis is an MTS Fellow.