Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (ImarEST) conducted a roundtable discussion on the term “big data” and its definition in the marine sector. Also, the challenges and opportunities were a part of the discussion.
ImarEST through the roundtable brought together the experts from various fields including naval architecture, insurance, environmental research, environmental response, marine engineering, surveying, subsea services, marine consultancy, data management and academic research.
The topics of discussion ranged from the importance of analysing and disseminating big data; about how it can be put to effective use to help the industry progress better. The big data’s extensive applications were discussed, but the challenge of knowing if data should be collected endlessly to be used later or should it be collected on an as-needed basis, questions on who decides which data is to be collected, who may write the algorithms for collecting and deciding on the formulae that is to be used?
The importance of such decisions can be demonstrated by the decade-long delay in recognising the formation of the ozone hole – measurements of extremely low ozone concentrations made by monitoring satellites were systematically discarded by the computer’s algorithm.
A list of few examples, where the industry can grow with more data and information:
- Understanding the state of the environment and impacts of climate change
- Standardisation of vessel design, making oil and other hazardous materials spill support decisions
- Improving fuel efficiency (engine monitoring and fuel consumption), voyage optimisation and safety and vessel performance
The outcome of the discussion included concerns on prospective challenges like sharing of the data. This concern may create chances to slow down the progress. Now the mainstay lies in overcoming and achieving the issues that lingers around the ownership of the data, sharing, standardization to avoid disparate types and quality of data, financing the collection of environmental data and the successful marrying of big data with the human element in decision-making.
Maria Kouboura, Senior Technical Advisor at the IMarEST, commented:
“Although the marine sector recognises the advantages of big data in terms of value to business, human element, environmental protection, offshore activities, etc. it hasn’t yet found a way to overcome these challenges.”
A white paper report will be produced by the ImarEST which would outline the outcomes of the discussion and the possible next steps.