A: I work as Director of Analytics and Cloud Automation Services for Fugro’s Global Innovation team, with a key responsibility to transform the way that Fugro manages and extracts value from our Geo-data. Last fall, I had the privilege of accepting a six‑month secondment with IOC-UNESCO at their headquarters in Paris in the role of Data Knowledge and Management Officer. This assignment, and our partnership as a whole, is focused on supporting the goals and objectives of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (the 'Ocean Decade', 2021-2030), which is a multifaceted initiative to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and create improved conditions for sustainable ocean development worldwide.
Terry McConnell, Fugro’s Director of Analytics and Cloud Automation Services
…we are engaged with the Ocean Decade because it’s the right thing to do and because it fits with our mandate as a company to create a safe and liveable world
A: We’ve been engaging with the global ocean science community for a number of years, including during the early planning activities for The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project. David Millar (Fugro’s Government Accounts Director – Americas) initiated that effort with support of Fugro leadership. A major focus of our involvement has been to increase private-sector participation through sharing existing and contributing new Geo‑data, including using crowdsourced methods. When the Ocean Decade was being planned, IOC‑UNESCO and Fugro recognised the potential of a partnership to grow the impact of this approach over the course of the 10-year programme.
A: The Ocean Decade is all about building bottom-up momentum and excitement to deliver ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’. That’s the vision and the tagline. It’s a challenge, though, because the ocean science community is all over the place—both literally in terms of geography and figuratively in terms of project scope. To achieve ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’, we ultimately need to get a handle on ‘the data we need for the science we want’.
Our partnership is centred around this data issue and includes the establishment and administration of two key working groups. The first is focused on creating a data digital ecosystem for the Ocean Decade, and the second is focused on increasing data access in the programme, especially from the private sector.
A: My assignment was focused on setting up that first group, which is called the Ocean Decade Data Coordination Group. It comprises 25 experts from diverse fields and geographies who are now responsible for developing a data digital ecosystem for the Ocean Decade. Essentially a ‘digital twin’ of the ocean, this digital ecosystem will enable sharing, management and distribution of ocean data and interoperable marine science.
The second group, called the Ocean Decade Corporate Data Group, will comprise leaders from the private sector. Their work will be to develop frameworks and mechanisms that will accelerate public access to privately-held ocean data. Our Fugro colleague Louis Demargne is setting up this group, now on secondment in the role of Data Management and Knowledge Officer since March. It’s also being co-chaired by Fugro CEO Mark Heine and IOC-UNESCO Executive Secretary Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin.
Fugro CEO Mark Heine at the UN Ocean Conference, announcing the Ocean Decade Corporate Data Group. Image courtesy of Rodrigo Antunes
A: The work I did with IOC-UNESCO is very much in line with what I've been doing at Fugro for the past five years. The challenges of Geo-data management, access and sharing are very much the same. In that sense, the Ocean Decade is almost like an extremely large and complex Fugro! So, the principles we are applying to ensure integrated digital solutions here at Fugro also apply to the Ocean Decade, just on a much grander scale.
As for Louis, he’s the perfect person to manage the Corporate Data Group, as well as the ongoing nature of the Data Coordination Group. He has both a technical and commercial background and is well suited to manage the communication and engagement aspect of this work. He’s the one bringing these parties together, enabling them to work together and communicating with all the participants so they can effectively engage their respective communities in support of the Ocean Decade.
A: Not at all! I was just minding my own business and then one day I was offered this opportunity. Given the stage of my career and the fact that my family is basically grown, it was possible for me to just close the door here and spend six months somewhere else helping out this initiative. It was really just amazing that I was there at the moment in time when a need was expressed and I was able to help out. It was quite an honour to be asked and quite an honour to be able to contribute in that way.
A: Fugro’s purpose is ‘together we create a safe and liveable world’. And that’s not just words. In preparation for this project, Mark Heine made it very clear in no uncertain terms that we are engaged with the Ocean Decade because it’s the right thing to do and because it fits with our mandate as a company to create a safe and liveable world. It’s not about profit. It’s not about what can we get out of it. It’s about why should we be doing this as a good corporate citizen and as good individual citizens.
Fugro generates ocean science every day, delivering the Geo-data that our clients need to safely build or maintain infrastructure in the oceanic environment. Included are the many different types of metocean, geophysical, geotechnical and environmental data that is required to characterise and understand what’s happening on the water surface, within the water column, and on and beneath the seafloor.
In support of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (Ocean Decade), Fugro is working to transform the way global ocean science data is coordinated and shared. These efforts include facilitating increased access to private-sector Geo-data to help secure ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’