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Frode Kjersem (t.h) i Kystverket er prosjektleder for BarentsWatch og Viggo Jensen, Vice President Research and Development I Kongsberg Spacetec.

SUSTAINABILITY: What is the impact on fish when the sea temperatures rise and there is an increase in shipping traffic in the high north? BarentsWatch can provide the answer to that question.

Fishing in the Barents Sea is an important industry for both Norway and Russia. Iceland, and the EU also fish for cod, haddock and char in the nutritious waters between Finnmark an Spitzbergen. With such a level of activity, it can be valuable to collect information on how human activity impacts on life undet the water's surface.

"The BarentsWatch portal represents Norway and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the high north. This project has been established to demonstrate that Norway is capable of proper management of this region, explains Frode Kjersem, BarentsWatch Project Manager for the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA). BarentsWatch will collate data from a number of sources - both historical and real time.

"With this data, we may dicover unknown connections and will be able to evaluate different ways in which we can cooperate," explains Gro Kibsgaard-Petersen, in charge of communications for BarentsWatch.

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High prestige project

We are in the Paris of the North - Tromsø. It's just past lunchtime, but twilight has already fallen. In a small room at the Kongsberg Spacetec facility, we find the team which assembles the brain of BarentsWatch. The goal for the project is to provide a comprehensive monitoring and information system for users working with or interested in climate and the environment, shipping traffic, marine resources, oil and gas activities or maritime law.

"Our most substantial challenge is to create an open and flexible system which allows for expansion, and to get the different data to interact," explains Frank Øynes from Kongsberg Spacetec.

The project is scheduled for launch in May 2012. Knowledge of life and processes under the water's surface is absolutely essential if you want to succeed with a business in the high north. Events such as unexpected growth of algae, shipwrecks and oil spills are clear indications of the need for improved measurement and warning systems. The information is out there today, but is spread out in a number of different locations and is, in part, difficult to access. These are the problems to be solved by BarentsWatch.

The information portal is a specific initiative within the Norwegian government's strategy to secure. sustainable growth in the high north. The draft fiscal budget for 2012 sets aside NOK 30 million for the project. As such, the project has a finacial framework of NOK 54 million.

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    IMPORTANT PROJECT: Ole Søslett (on the left), Jørn Vegard Røgnes, Frank Øynes
    (background left) and Harald Lauknes are part of the BarentsWatch team at Spacetec.

 

Patience

BarentsWatch also represents a milestone for KONGSBERG. Kongsberg Spacetec has principal project management and supplies the portal's catalogue of services and map section.

The system will allow users to collate the data in a map in order to provide a better overview. The user will also be able to save, open, share and comment on the maps. This type of information system has been subject to discussions for close to a decade. Vice President of Research and Development, Viggo Jensen, system architect Frank Øynes and Scrum Master Ken Rune Nilsen from Kongsberg Spacetec are among those who have been part of the process since the very start.

"It's very satisfying to finally see it all come to something," says Viggo Jensen.

A closed portal has also been planned for the Norwegian authorities, but this has yet to be adopted. The concept is for the closed portal to provide for improved coordination of national operative services.

Business development

The main aim for BarentsWatch is to provide a valuable tool for society at large, including the authorities and businesses seeking to start operations in the high north.

"If we can make a contribution towards new businesses starting up in the northern regions, then that would be a huge advantage," confirms Project Manager from the NCA, Frode Kjersem.

Initially, BarentsWatch will start up as a national project. However, both Viggo Jensen from Kongsberg Spacetec and Project Manager Frode Kjersem from the NCA confirm that the end goal is to develop a system on an international scale.

"We work hard to ensure compliance with international standards so that the system will be able to integrate information from a higher number of suppliers," continues Mr. Kjersem.

A world of opportunity

Viggo Jensen and the rest of the KONGSBERG team hope that their future work on development of the system will bear fruit for the entire Group.

The innovative developers in Tromsø have also identified potensial for use of the system on land and in the air.

"The Armed Forces could make good use of this type of system which collates different sources of information," claims Viggo Jensen.

Experts believe that the new experience gained and technology developed will provide a substantial competitive edge for KONGSBERG can supply integrated systems," confirms Frank Øynes.

"There is so much potential with this system, on a glocal scale. Innovation Norway are extremly positive to the system and we have already identified opportunities in a number of countries, including Bulgaria and South Korea," states Harald Lauknes, Vice President Sales and Marketing for Kongsberg Spacetec.

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BarentsWatch

  • The goal is to develop a comprehensive information and monitoring system for the northern coastal and sea regions.
  • Collects data from 27 governmental units and research institutions.
  • Generates real time and historical data for the following fields:
    • climate/environment
    • marine resources
    • maritime activities
    • oil/gas activities
    • maritime law / regulations
  • Will provide an overview and a more comprehensive basic data for management of the area.
  • Priority target groups:
    • Public institutions in charge of the different fields involved
    • Commercial users
  • The very first services are due for launch in May 2012.
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