Blue Economy and geoinformation services for sustainable growth in coastal regions

Conclusions and recommendations

The Blue Economy is a great stimulator for innovative services

The growing importance of the Blue Economy in Europe’s activities represents a great opportunity for innovation, be it in coastal management, navigation assistance or biodiversity protection. The Blue Economy represents an opportunity to boost the local economy and create jobs in knowledge intensive economic sectors.

There is a real need for new services in order to better tackle the challenges faced by coastal regions for creating a sustainable growth path. Local and Regional Authorities should therefore not hesitate in investing even more into the adoption of innovative technologies.

Moreover, marine satellite data is now widely available via MyOcean, the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service,) which provides free raw data on ocean monitoring and forecasting. This represents a true opportunity for the creation of marine and coastal innovative services.

 

Satellite applications bring an added-value for addressing the specific challenges of coastal areas

The operational cases presented during the conference showed that satellite-based services are relevant tools for helping coastal users, whether they are public authorities, civil organisations or SMEs.

The experiences showcased demonstrated that not only satellite navigation produces improvements in -for instance- the nautical sector, but also satellite communication and imagery, by delivering even more accurate marine data, such as information on waves and tides.

Moreover, satellite applications have proven extremely helpful in managing risks (e.g. subsidence monitoring or coastal erosion) and improving the response given by managers in charge.

 

Cooperation networks are the key for improving the take-up of satellite services among local authorities

Final users often point out the lack of understanding of their needs by service providers, which may build solutions that do not match the reality on the field. In addition, the available data is too big for users to use them autonomously. For instance, MyOcean data is not necessarily at the right level to address very specific local needs. Intermediation is therefore necessary, especially for combining satellite data with other sources (in situ, socio-economic, etc…).

Moreover, the fragmentation of tools used by local entities to access the information can lead to confusion among users, while the data processed is similar.

In order to facilitate the uptake of satellite-based services, multi-level cooperation is thus needed. It is essential to promote and enhance collaboration between the various actors of the value-chain. In this sense, intermediate users can be the right interface for bringing together service developers and final users (Local and Regional Authorities, but also SMEs) and help them better adapting satellite-based services to users’ requirements.

Better cooperation can also lead to the development of user networks and common tools, such as the online platform Adriplan, than can be shared among users from the same region. This would help reduce the procurement costs of satellite information which can prove quite deterrent for small structures and also improve transfer of experience from confirmed users. Sharing tools would also enhance coordination between the various users.

 

All the different scales of actors must be involved in innovation development and take-up

The space community can also help fostering innovative services take-up. Indeed, space agencies have already started implementing pioneering initiatives that take into consideration user perspective and needs. For instance the Netherlands Space Office has implemented thematic roadmaps, while the Italian Space Agency has been developing regional support programmes for potential users. These are good examples of what can be achieved for enhancing further service uptake.

Furthermore, innovation development and economic growth can only be reached if SMEs have enough space to play their part as actors of innovation. Indeed, it will be quite difficult for SMEs to enter the market and be competitive if they have to compete with subsidised institutional organisations that might be developing the same type of services.

European calls for projects are the right opportunity to better take into account SMEs specificities (for procuring data for instance). For instance, the European Commission is launching new contracts opportunities for developing and providing services based on Copernicus data. The EC should therefore ensure that SMEs have their share of these contracts to be able to be truly innovative actors. 

 

Users training has to be developed to ensure an efficient adoption of the services

Final users have shared their concern of lacking the appropriate knowledge and competencies for implementing and using satellite-based services efficiently. Priority should thus be given to developing appropriate training schemes. These trainings can be developed by several entities, including the space community, specific programmes (EU Copernicus for instance) or service providers.

Funding schemes such as Horizon 2020 should include those trainings as a requirement in the calls for projects which would, in addition, improve the chance of research projects to become operational services.

Furthermore, to enhance a real take-up, interfaces should be adapted to already existing working methods used by final users in their daily tasks, so that services developed can be utilised by non-GIS experts for instance.

 

 The PDF version of the document is available here