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Third meeting of the Marine Knowledge Expert Group - Meeting Minutes

Event date:
03/05/2019 - 02:00
Table of Contents

    Date: 3 May 2019, 09:30 – 17:00

    Venue: European Commission - DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Rue Joseph II, 99 B-1049 Brussels-Belgium, Room J-99 00/53

    Agenda

    ---- WELCOME COFFEE AS FROM 09:00----

    09.30 Welcome and introduction by Andreea Strachinescu and Iain Shepherd Unit A1 Maritime Innovation, Marine Knowledge and Investment, DG MARE.

    09.45 Introduction to the work of the day

    10.00 Session 1: Assisting in the monitoring of the thematic portals/groups set up to further the aims of the European Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) and advising on the priorities for data to be made available through the Network.

    10 minutes presentation by Jan-Bart Calewaert from the EMODnet secretariat, group introduction and first round of discussions.

    ---- COFFEE BREAK 10.45----

    11.00 Continue Session1

    Continuation of discussions and 15 minutes of feedback to the whole group.

    12.00 Session 2: Advising on how the needs of maritime business and investment can be served better by the provision of data through the Network and determining how private companies could contribute towards monitoring the seas and oceans and how the data they collect for their own purposes could be made more widely available.

    10 minutes presentation by Zoi Konstantinou from DG MARE A1 and first round of discussions.

    ---- SANDWICH LUNCH 12:45----

    13.30 Continue Session 2

    Continuation of discussions and 15 minutes of feedback to the whole group.

    14.10 Session 3: EMODnet data store, presentation, feedback, use and promotion

    10 minutes presentation by Pascal Derycke from EMODnet secretariat and first round of discussions.

    ---- COFFEE BREAK 15.00----

    15.15 Continue Session 3

    Continuation of discussions and 15 minutes of feedback to the whole group.

    15.30 Session 4: Enhancing EMODnet communication – Gap identification and future strategy

    10 minutes presentation by EMODnet secretariat member, discussions and 15 minutes of feedback to the whole group.

    16.30 Conclusions and future actions.

    Minutes

    The main focus and aim of this meeting was to collect input regarding a number of subjects related to EMODnet, coming both from external experts and colleagues from other services/departments than MARE A1. Topics included how people perceive EMODnet, what they find strange, not understandable, difficult to work with, even if these limitations are already well known.

    Participants were devided in subgroups to solicitit feedback along the main subjects. Zoi Konstantinou and Iain Shepherd (Unit A1 Maritime Innovation, Marine Knowledge and Investment, DG MARE) served as meeting facilitators, with the EMODnet Secretariat serving as additional facilitators for each sub-group. Facilitators guided the discussions towards answering specific questions, keeping discussions on topic and to time, not allowing conversations to drift away, avoiding overanalysis of a specific subject and giving equal attention to all discussion points. Facilitators also took notes of key messages together with a nominated expert from each sub-group. After each discussion session, the group facilitator reported key discussion points back to plenary, to kick-start further input and discussion by the experts. 

    A preparatory document was sent to each group with guidelines for each session discussion and an indication of the EMODnet portals and topics that they would focus on during the group work. The participants were invited to go through the specific portals assigned to them, explore, browse data products and try to download at least one data set if not more and to provide their overview and inputs, as well as suggestions for improvements.

    In these meeting minutes, individual Group summary reports are presented for Session 1 (Feedback and optimization) and Session 2 (EMODnet serving the needs of businesses). A collated summary of discussions across all three sub-groups is then presented for Session 3 (EMODnet data store, presentation, feedback, use and promotion) and Session 4 (Enhancing EMODnet communication – Gap identification and future strategy).

    Welcome and Introduction

    Andreea Strachinescu (Head of Unit A1 Maritime Innovation, Marine Knowledge and Investment, DG MARE) welcomed participants. Zoi Konstantinou (Unit A1 Maritime Innovation, Marine Knowledge and Investment, DG MARE) presented an introduction to the work planned and expected outcomes.

    Jan-Bart Calewaert (Head, EMODnet Secretariat) presented an overview of EMODnet, including latest data and dataproduct releases. Participants then split into three groups for further discussion across 4 session topics, facilitated by members of the EMODnet Secretariat and DG MARE A1 officers.

    Session 1: Feedback and optimization

    Scope: Assisting in the monitoring of the thematic portals/groups set up to further the aims of EMODnet and advising on the priorities for data to be made available through the Network.

    Guiding questions:

    • How would you evaluate the portal that you worked with regarding usability, ease to navigate, download data and browse data products? What would you change? What would you include?
    • Do you have robust suggestions on how can EMODnet become more accessible, more complete and more user friendly?
    • What should be the main improvements? What should be the main future priorities?

    The three sub-groups were each given a sub-set of EMODnet portals to focus on during discussions.

    Summary reports for Session 1

    General comment: Individual portals are developing well, and more can now be done to improve the harmonization and interoperability across portals and the Central portal as a more user-centric platform. Since most users, including marine and maritime industry, require data from multiple parameters (biology/bathymetry/geology/physics), a new tool(s) embedded in the central portal to search, retrieve and visualise data and dataproducts from all of the data portals could certainly add value to the current service. Identifying good examples and best practices across existing EMODnet portals could be used to develop standard operating practices and a more standardised procedure.

    Specific comments related to EMODnet Central portal

    • To add value to what exists we need to develop a more user-centric Central portal. Users need to have specific information relevant to them in terms of what is available,  linking to relevant use cases and relevant data and products in the catalogue;
    • Recognition of data providers and users is important. Use cases are testimonials and there could be more direct access to use cases and presentation of resources that are applicable and recognisable to users;
    • A more market/sectoral approach could add value e.g. as Copernicus has done with 4 market sectors: marine resources (fisheries, renewable, etc.), safety at sea, weather and climate;
    • Users, and particularly private companies need to find the resources e.g. data, data products easily and with a minimum number of clicks, scrolling and fast access;
    • So far the central portal is not so useful in terms of access to data services. This needs to change and evolve to provide an overarching data services allowing search, visualisation and downloading of data/products from different sub-portals/disciplines;
    • A central portal with a more intuitive and effective browsing application across the data and product portfolio could be achieved through a matrix approach. This would offer multiple entry points for users to facilitate access to the data, without changing the underlying catalogue but just how the user is served the information they need e.g. through a providing ‘thematic’ search or based on ‘sector’ filtering/entry. This could be developed as a new tool(s) embedded in the central portal to search, retrieve and visualise data and data products from all of the data portals.

    Comment related to the Harmonisation – central across thematic portals

    • All EMODnet portals should be similar and have same logic of data visualization accessibility formats;
    • EMODnet portals should have links to other portals;
    • EMODnet portals should be similar in aspect and usability;
    • In order to keep the interaction between partners and contributors, portals could remain, but create an additional central downloading portal.

    Support service

    • Important to improve support i.e. for data providers;
    • Good documentation and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) would help to reduce pressure on support services.

    Session 2: EMODnet serving the needs of businesses

    Scope: Advising on how the needs of maritime business and investment can be served better by the provision of data through EMODnet to support investment, innovation and growth in the Blue Economy around Europe. Determining how private companies could contribute towards monitoring the seas and oceans and how the data they collect for their own purposes could be made more widely available.

    The three sub-groups were each given a topic for discussion. Each expert and participant was asked to draw on their own professional experience and background to identify what would be relevant for each sector but also the potential for bilateral collaborations with EMODnet (incentives for data submission, corporal responsibility, etc.) and specify achievable and efficient next steps.

    Summary reports for Session 2

    Regarding Large Industries

    • To initiate and engage big companies to share (even some) data a dual approach is required: bottom up (connecting to technical and operational levels) and top down (convincing and getting support from higher level management / CEO level);
    • Look for small-scale pilot demonstration projects: Sharing data in specific area by specific company or sector - Test cases for collaborations;
    • Use various instruments / funding to draw in the right interlocutors from businesses within each company (e.g. EIP) – this will help identify the right persons to liaise with rather than doing a blind search;
    • Use brokers: World Ocean Council (WOC), thematic or sectoral business associations, maritime clusters, incubators;
    • Incentives are important
      • Ensure EMODnet is providing a good service with useful products while communicating the gaps (which users can help fill) – if they see the value and use it they may be more willing to contribute + EMODnet must more strongly communicate that sharing data will help to improve services:
        • Short-term benefits should be strong argument – better products will save them costs (better forecast) e.g. Combining EMODnet / CMEMS data;
        • Better modelling and forecasting will help also with safety and security operations;
      • Develop innovative ways to support or help cover costs of those willing to share data to promote ingestion/sharing of major datasets:
        • Concrete proposal: EMODnet data ingestion could reserves a pot of funds to offer grants (through an open, competitive call) to support data providers to share data sets to EMODnet standards. This also increases awareness and helps data ingestion to assess priorities for dataset ingestion;
      • Corporate Social Responsibilities – branding and communication:
        • For this EMODnet needs to be highly regarded and recognised as high profile on the EC (DGMARE) political agenda, as a key delivery mechanism for European Policies, including the Marine Knowledge 2020 and key contribution to the Integrated Maritime Policy, as well as assist Member States to respond and report to EU policies;
        • Ocean knowledge;
    • Mobilising big companies as associated partners:
      • Use the ‘you are the first’ incentive for pioneers;
      • Then switch to ‘shared leadership groups’ to attract other ‘competitor’ companies.

    Regarding Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

    Use of EMODnet data by SMEs

    • SMEs can see the value of EMODnet offering centralized access to aggregated data and data products as they cannot collect all data themselves;
    • There is a growing market for innovation of marine data into intermediate data products, goods and services – this is a good market for SMEs and they need access to multiple datasets across many parameters i.e. access and interoperability, and ideally a single search tool across all EMODnet portals;
    • Time is money and data presentation and access should be kept as simple and user-friendly as possible – often SMEs want to go straight to the raw data from surveys (with metadata);
    • To use derived data products, SMEs will need to know concretely the assumptions and detailed methodology for those products (e.g. as done for EMODnet Human Activities Vessel Density Maps), otherwise they will not use them. As long as the data quality and the completeness (identified gaps or constraints) are known the data can be used;
    • SME use of EMODnet data and data products and impact of the EMODnet services would potentially increase if EMODnet focused more on developing a few high class data products, or at least one showcase product per portal, rather than trying to develop everything and spreading the effort too widely resulting in good, but medium quality products that are perhaps less frequently used.

    Data sharing by SMEs to EMODnet:

    Bottlenecks for industry, and in particular for SMEs, to share data include:

    • Time and cost constraints due to the effort required to standardize and ingest the data (for an SME this is particularly pertinent with a relatively small cash flow / lack of buffer);
    • Loss (or perceived loss) of competitive advantage (collecting data costs time and money and to openly share it may give competitors an edge, particularly if most industry do not share data);
    • Increased risk e.g. for success in future tenders/bids if data are openly shared
    • Licensing restrictions: In many cases the ownership of the data remains with the client, unless formerly agreed and written into the contract;

    Incentives to sharing data, particulary by SMEs include:

    • Finding win-wins to make the industry profit e.g. showing use cases of how open access to data has stimulated business and innovation, particularly as SMEs can be more agile to produce data products, goods and services;
    • Corporate responsibility e.g. for the environment, climate and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is a harder sell for SMEs that have less flexibility to commit time and efforts to additional activities unless they are core business and help make a profit;
    • Writing into tenders to share data: this would help to at least show what data have been collected. But it will not fully solve the problem as SMEs may do the minimum as they have little time/incentive to fully standardize and share all datasets.

    Concrete actions to incentivize SME-engagement with EMODnet:

    • EMODnet user consultation: building on previous feedback to systematically ask commercial sector businesses their needs, ideas for products and services and incentives to share their data:
    • To add value this should be a thorough consultation, including individual feedback at SME and other business organization levels. It may require funding to provide a monetary incentive for businesses to provide thorough feedback;
    • Commercial users could be asked to pick their top three products for EMODnet to further develop (as was done with the strong user interest in Vessel Density Maps).
    • Central and personalized working space: Design a central tool where users can search for the data they need across portals, selecting a specific region of interest and move beyond just viewing maps with screen shots to allowing users to both make and export  their own maps;
    • Specifying open access data policy in tenders. This is less easy for private tenders, but particularly for public-private collaborations tenders could stipulate that all data produced will be managed by public sector side and the private sector should give the raw data to the public sector for data management, curation and dissemination;
    • Marketing: Annual EMODnet prize (non monetary) for industry that has contributed most marine data on 2019? Per portal? Recognition with certificate and trophy.

    Regarding Start-ups

    • Access to open data and data products through EMODnet is particularly useful and inspiring for start-ups at early phases of a business project to see what datasets have already been collected for a particular parameter or region;
    • Joining EMODnet network can be a strength for start-ups which need visibility and opportunities to showcase their innovative products/services;
    • To promote innovation and product development, EMODnet should work to develop higher resolution of key datasets;
    • Sustainability of EMODnet services might be an issue, although this may be less of an issue as EMODnet is becoming more operational and is a long-term initiative of the European Union;
    • It is important to have a disclaimer clearly explaining and stating the limitations of using EMODnet data and services – this exists for each portal but a more user-friendly short disclaimer on the central portal and on specific datasets could help minimize uncertainty and promote the use of data by start-ups and the private sector;
    • Fast access to data might be crucial for new service opportunities.

    Session 3: EMODnet data store, presentation, feedback, use and promotion

    In this session, participants discussed the data store as an alternative for a more integrated, efficient and user-friendly approach to EMODnet data downloading. This session also took into account feedback from Sessions 1 and 2 on future optimization of EMODnet and serving the needs of users, including the blue economy. The discussions investigated the ideas and responses of the experts and officers to see if the data store could be a comprehensive solution to facilitate EMODnet for Business, and any additional ideas and comments.

    Pascal Derycke (Technical Coordinator, EMODnet Secretariat) presented the EMODnet Data Store as a proof-of-concept, followed by a discussion summarized below which collates input from all sub-groups.

    Usability and added value service provision

    • There is general support for the EMODnet Data Store concept as a new added value tool as an aggregation of webservices that simplifies the userinterface and provides a more user-centric approach to accessing data and data products from across EMODnet portals through a single entry point;
    • Specific added value developments include the ability to:
      • Gather datasets and products from across portals and export data files for uploading in ArcGIS and other software was considered a positive development of value to users;
      • Enable a geographical boundary query to gather data on a specific region;
      • Include intelligent assistance to help users to refine their searches;
      • User registration to so that that returning users can log-in to access a personalized area with access to a users’ own history of previous saved queries and downloads. This could also help track diversity and numbers of users.

    Feasibility and ensuring added value to existing EMODnet architecture

    • A successful implementation would heavily depend on back-end harmonization across all EMODnet portals (particularly in terms of metadata) to ensure the query tool could make systematic and fast searches. This is not a small task but can be achieved through machine to machine communication to link across metadata catalogues;
    • The relevance of the Central portal and the seven thematic portals would need to be clearly defined and communicated within and beyond the EMODnet community. For instance if the Data Store was fully implemented as the main user interface, the EMODnet thematic assembly activities, and the expert communities that power them, would remain vital to generate the data and metadata catalogues;
    • The heterogeneity of the different portal services needs to be considered e.g. some portals supply raw data and others only intermediate data files e.g. raster files;
    • The delivery time of the data and data products following a query needs to be investigated. For instance, querying across all portals will add complexity and time to any search and download. And in some instances, the original data are only available by contacting the source provider which is a bottleneck for fast delivery as the first query result would provide only the metadata, requiring the user to follow up with the original data provider;
    • With a single combined interface, it would be important to find ways to acknowledge the considerable and ongoing work of the back-end data ‘warehouse’ and portal and to ensure the source provider of the data and the provenance of the data from source to EMODnet is well documented and easily accessible e.g. through more standardized metadata;
    • Every individual thematic assmbly group deals with different types and ranges of data and data products. For this reason the map viewer has been fine-tuned to the data. Some long-term and technical users of EMODnet (particularly the scientific community?) may prefer to retain access directly to individual portals, if there is a way to still offer this.

    Proposed next steps

    • Consult further with EMODnet Coordinators to discuss the role of the individual portals and harmonization work required to implement the EMODnet Data Store concept; 
    • Consult users to test and provide more feedback on the data store to tailor it to best serve users and ensure it will add value. User feedback should be invited across a range of sectors and size of companies. The upcoming Open Sea Lab (OSL II) could act as an opportunity to achieve this. 

    Session 4: Enhancing EMODnet communication – Gap identification and future strategy

    The last session of the day focused on enhancing EMODnet communication for use in Research, Innovation and Business sectors, but also on enlarging the community of organisations and institutes that provide data to EMODnet. The experts were asked to reflect on the subject in advance, to bring forward to the discussion specific, achievable and efficient ideas regarding the subject.

    Andrée-Anne Marsan (Communication and Finance Officer, EMODnet Secretariat) gave a presentation on EMODnet Communication, identifying the challenge of cross-sector communication to the wide variety of stakeholders and potential user groups, and noting focused initiatives such as the EMODnet for Business and EMODnet Associated Partner Scheme. A plenary discussion followed which is summarized below.

    How can we communicate more about EMODnet?

    • Existing members gave feedback on the EMODnet Associated Partner Scheme, noting the benefits offering visibility to the associated partner through the wider EMODnet network and giving the associated partner direct information on EMODnet developments before wider dissemination, on the basis that the EMODnet Associated Partner commits to the principles and philosophy of EMODnet, including sharing data;
    • The current level of interaction is considered good, with regular updates (e.g. e-communications) on EMODnet activities, allowing businesses to keep informed without requiring too much time investment;
    • Focus communication on differences and added value of EMODnet and synergies between other European initiatives (e.g. Copernicus and SeaDataNet);
    • Continue to seek feedback from users on a systematic and regular basis and develop wider diversity of use cases;
    • Engage with data providers to increase the visibility of EMODnet at National and local levels. Continue to develop best practices on acknowledging data providers e.g. through DOIs (in progress through EMODnet Data Ingestion). Provide information on metrics of data downloads to promote further sharing and use of datasets.

    How could EMODnet communicate more efficiently to industry?

    • Engaging with industry is important as it will drive political will and support for EMODnet and they act as brokers and multipliers for EMODnet;
    • Raise visibility and dialogue with the business community by attending and presenting EMODnet value, use cases etc at industry events;
    • Interaction with business will enhance the associated partnership value and the awareness and interest in EMODnet data, Products and services. It also helps determine what data and data products industry need e.g. to make their job safer and more responsible;
    • Communicate through the Business media, Association magazines or commercial publications/events;
    • Tailor communication to different levels of industry as users of the data (e.g. large industry) and as producers of goods and services (e.g. SMEs).

    Industry events and initiatives to interact with include: Ocean Business (biannual), Oceanology International (biannual), WOC Sustainable Ocean Summit (annual): next SOS, November 2019 (includes SMART Ocean-SMART Industries workshop); Enterprise Europe network (DG GROW).

    Post-meeting note: The EMODnet Secretariat submitted an abstract for the Sustainable Ocean Summit (November 2019) and for Oceanology International (March 2020) and continue to seek opportunities to present EMODnet to the business community.

    Marketing: EMODnet should communicate the key message to attract business and wider user attention e.g. Build on existing communication, from ‘unlock you data’, to ‘Free marine data!’

    EMODnet Associated Partner (A.P.) Scheme: Feedback

    • Existing members gave feedback on the EMODnet Associated Partner Scheme, noting the benefits offering visibility to the associated partner through the wider EMODnet network and giving the associated partner direct information on EMODnet developments before wider dissemination, on the basis that the EMODnet Associated Partner commits to the principles and philosophy of EMODnet, including sharing data;
    • The current level of interaction is considered good, with regular updates (e.g. e-communications) on EMODnet activities, allowing businesses to keep informed without requiring too much time investment;
    • I was recommended that Associated Partners would be invited to provide input to the Open Sea Lab II and future editions Challenges and provide concrete user requirements for the Hackathon teams (already in progress);
    • A specific EMODnet Associated Partner logo would add value as it would offer certification that a particular organization is an EMODnet Associated Partner, with permission to include the logo on organization websites and on tenders. DG MARE will explore how this could be developed in house;
    • Sending a small pack of EMODnet communication material, including the data and data portfolio catalogue to existing and new Associated Partners could help communication within and between businesses;
    • It was confirmed that Associations are eligible to join the EMODnet A.P. scheme.

    Zoi Konstantinou and Iain Shepherd (Unit A1 Maritime Innovation, Marine Knowledge and Investment, DG MARE) thanked all participants fort he productive discussions and closed the meeting.

    The End