Hydrography has long been providing essential services to the offshore and nautical industries, using innovations in acquisition techniques based on the advanced use of physics, mathematics and ICT. Nowadays, the sea is no longer just the domain of mariners, dredgers and the oil & gas industry.
Instead, the focus of our profession is shifting towards smart data management for a variety of fields. We are providing data and products to customers that expect geographical data to be free and easily accessible. Fields that are discovering the value of our services include environmental monitoring, renewable energy and coastal protection. Increased activities of all those fields in shallow continental shelf seas require careful marine planning, for which detailed and current data sets are required. Society needs to take good care of the seas as they are crucial for international trade, the climate, food supply, and tourism.
At the same time, budgets for hydrography are under pressure. This could lead to a more commercial approach towards data access, fewer new data sets, or lower data quality. The international hydrographic community has responded to these dangers by emphasizing the benefits of hydrography for our society (FIG publication 57 “Report on the economic benefits of hydrography”, June 2011, available at www.fig.net; IHO publication M2, “The need for national hydrographic services”, July 2011, available at www.iho.int).
How should we respond to an increasing demand with varying specifications, while the supply of hydrographic services is under pressure? Will the answer be further developments in remote surveying techniques? Or can we gain efficiency by better understanding the geophysics of the marine environment as a basis for better survey planning? How can cooperation between hydrographic institutions be improved? In which ways can the internet, AIS, and the marine geoid help?
Taking care of the seas, estuaries, rivers and lakes is impossible without us hydrographers. We need to tell each other and our societies how we can do this in the most efficient way, over and over again. Public visibility is more necessary than ever to secure our profession, and thereby our marine environment.
The Hydro12 team invites you to share your solutions for taking good care of the sea. We look forward to hearing your present challenges and solutions for saving money while providing better services.