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BONUS ESABALT organizes successful Workshop on Solutions for Maritime Situational Awareness (SIMSA 2016)

Situational awareness is especially important in the Baltic Sea, where thousands of vessels of all sizes are sailing at any given time. It is possible to select the optimal route with sufficient situational awareness.

“Situational awareness improves reliability in sudden extreme circumstances, such as in poor ice conditions or unexpected emissions of pollutants into the sea,” says BONUS ESABALT Project Manager Sarang Thombre.

The primary aim of the Workshop was to present the results of the BONUS ESABALT project to the Baltic Sea maritime stakeholders. The Workshop was a great success with over 60 registered participants from industry, academia, research and governmental organizations from the wider Baltic Sea Region.

Other core themes addressed during the Workshop were related to the existing challenges and technology gaps for maritime navigation and situational awareness, especially in the context of the Baltic Sea, and innovative state-of-art solutions under implementation to bridge these gaps.

The highlight of the Workshop were the keynote talks from Prof. Michael Baldauf (World Maritime University, Sweden) about e-Navigation and its role in perfecting maritime alarming, Egbert Schwarz (German Aerospace Centre, Germany) about DLR’s platform for providing near real-time solutions for maritime situational awareness in the Baltic using data from European space satellites, and Tommi Arola (Finnish Traffic Safety Agency, Finland) about the EU Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) and digitization issues in the maritime domain. Andris Andrusaitis from BONUS Secretariat complemented the technical keynotes by presenting an introduction to the BONUS programme while also describing its role in incubating innovative research for the benefit of an improved Baltic Sea ecosystem.

The WOW factor at the Workshop came during the presentation from the VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland) when Dr. Eija Kaasinen presented a video showing their vision about the Future Bridge Concept developed together with Rolls Royce.

Importantly, the Workshop had strong representation of other BONUS projects in the list of speakers, such as BONUS STORMWINDS, BONUS GEOILWATCH, and BONUS ANCHOR. Maritime Industry was well represented as well, with speakers from Arctia Oy (Finland), Sup4Nav LLC (Poland), Furuno Finland Oy, and Marorka (Denmark). The diversity of the topic areas was evident by inclusion of presentations related to aerial remote sensing, environmental monitoring, and winter navigation.

BONUS ESABALT Project Coordinator prof. Kuusniemi was inspired by the workshop: “In future, we would like to enlarge cooperation to improve situational awareness at sea and develop crowdsourcing methods.”

BONUS ESABALT (March 2014 – Feb 2016) is a Flagship Project under the EU Strategy for Baltic Sea Region Policy Area on Maritime Safety and Security (PA SAFE), whose goal is to investigate an open platform for information crowd-sharing related maritime situational awareness from vessels of all classes sailing in the Baltic Sea. This data resource will then be exploited for providing innovative value-added services related to maritime safety, intelligent navigation, and environmental monitoring and reporting, back to the contributing main-users.

This Workshop marks the successful completion of the BONUS ESABALT project.  The speaker presentations from the SIMSA 2016 Workshop are accessible at:


ESABALT presentations in the United States and in Copenhagen

The Institute of Navigation (ION)’s GNSS+ is an annual conference arranged in the United States. It is one of the largest conferences in the world in the domain of navigation, positioning and its applications in maritime, among others. This year the conference is arranged in Tampa, Florida.

ESABALT will be presented under the paper titled ‘Operational Scenarios for Maritime Safety in the Baltic Sea – Project BONUS ESABALT’ in the Session ‘Aviation and Marine Applications’, on Thursday 17th September. The link to the page is here.

Latest News: The paper was successfully presented and was awarded the Best Presentation Award in the technical session on ‘Aviation and Marine Applications’.


ESABALT will also be presented at the conference on Drivers for Blue Growth in the Baltic Sea Region in Copenhagen on 6 October 2015, and organized by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Maritime Policy and Fisheries (DG Mare). The conference is taking place during the Danish Maritime Days 2015 at the venue of the Danish Maritime Fair – an exhibition for maritime businesses, education institutions, authorities etc.

ESABALT will exhibit at the conference on the special invitation of the Danish Maritime Authority, as co-organiser of the conference and as Policy Area Coordinator in cooperation with the Finnish Transport Safety Agency for the Policy Area on Maritime Safety and Security (PA Safe) of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. This invitation has been forwarded to ESABALT in recognition of its contributions to  blue growth in the Baltic Sea Region and also as a Flagship Project of PA Safe under EUSBSR.

ESABALT is now a Flagship Project under the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region!

The Policy Area Coordinators for the Policy Area on Maritime Safety and Security (PA Safe) of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region have officially confirmed Flagship Project status to the ESABALT project. The coordinators include representatives of the Danish Maritime Authority and the Finnish Transport Safety Agency.

The letter of confirmation from the policy area coordinators can be accessed here.

The European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) is implemented, among others, by means of flagships – projects and processes. Flagships demonstrate the process and progress of the EUSBSR and may serve as pilot examples for desired change. A flagship is frequently the result of a policy discussion within a policy area or horizontal action. It fleshes out the ambition of a policy area or horizontal action in a specified field. It may, for example, develop key solutions, new methodologies, practices or a network looking for new forms of cooperation. Flagships may also concern key investments of regional importance.

The label of a flagship can be given to a project that fulfills the following criteria:

  1.  it has a high macro-regional impact;
  2. it contributes to meeting the objectives, indicators and targets of the EUSBSR;
  3. it is related to the implementation of one or more actions of the policy area/horizontal action concerned.

ESABALT presentation from the 17 June, 2015 meeting in Riga, Latvia of the EU SBSR International Steering Committee of the Priority Area ‘Maritime Safety and Security’ – online presentation here, and PDF slides can be downloaded from here.

ESABALT will have a busy June 2015!

The ESABALT project and its participants will be represented in four events and conferences during June 2015! These are listed here:

  • 3rd Maritime Congress in Szczecin, Poland during 10 – 12 June.
  • 12th International Steering Committee meeting of EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (SBSR) Priority Area PA SAFE in Riga, Latvia during 17 June.
  • Workshop on Technology Transfer in Marine Science at the Baltic Sea Science Congress (BSSC) in Riga, Latvia during 18 June.
  • 11th International Conference on Marine Navigation and Safety of Sea Transportation (TRANSNAV) in Gdynia, Poland during 17-19 June.

During these events the ESABALT project goals and progress will be discussed and showcased to a wide audience from diverse backgrounds in maritime science and technology, maritime policy, transportation, navigation and positioning.

Hoping to meet you there!


ESABALT and its participants influence the wider scientific community

Prof. Heidi Kuusniemi (Coordinator for the ESABALT project) was selected to become a member of the GNSS Scientific Advisory Committee (GSAC) of the European Space Agency (ESA) for a period of four years, starting from the beginning of 2013. The GSAC acts as an advisory body to the ESA Programme Board for Navigation and the ESA Executive in setting priorities and selecting proposals for the scientific exploitation of the Galileo satellite navigation system and the EGNOS space-based augmentation system.

Prof. Kuusniemi also serves on the Mobility as a Service Finland Committee. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a completely new view on mobility. With one order and payment it is possible to combine traffic services (possibly including maritime services) of several service providers into integrated travel chains, packages that travelers can order as needed. The idea is to develop new ways of traveling and to decrease the dependence on private transportation, thus reducing transport costs and carbon footprint.

Prof. Kuusniemi is also the President of the Nordic Institute of Navigation and with Dr. Sarang Thombre (ESABALT Technical Project Manager) is in its Administrative Board.

The Nordic Institute of Navigation is a non-profit, independent and non-political organization for professionals working within the field of navigation from the Nordic Countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. The focus of NNF is on all aspects of positioning and navigation related to marine, air, land, and space based applications. NNF is working to: improve qualifications of professionals within navigation by aiming at better educational opportunities, safety for personnel, the environment, and for financial assets, and improve overall efficiency. NNF arrange conferences, symposia, and courses to inform on subjects, ideas, and experiences related to the field of navigation. NNF is a member of the “European Group of Institutes of Navigation” (EUGIN) and of the “International Association of Institutes of Navigation” (IAIN), and members of NNF obtain discounts when participating in international conferences arranged by these bodies.

Prof. Zbigniew Pietrzykowski (leader of the project team from Maritime University of Szczecin) participated as a member of Polish delegation in the first (30.06 – 4.07.2014) and second (9.03 – 13.03.2015) session of IMO Sub-committee on Safety of Navigation, Communication, Search and Rescue NCSR session in London. He was a member of Correspondence Group of e-navigation, whose work was aided also by Polish representatives, on “Implementation plan of e-navigation strategy”. He participated also on work of Correspondence Group on Harmonization of Guidelines related to e-navigation, which resulted with Guideline on Software Quality Assurance and Human Centred Design for e-Navigation. Both mentioned issues concern activities directly related to the ESABALT project.

Prof. Janusz Uriasz is a member of polish delegation to International Maritime Organisation and the work of Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping. He has been involved in amendments of Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers Convention. He has been coordinator of recently completed comprehensive review of Polish maritime legislative instruments concerning coastal waters and internal waters. He is co-author of MET curriculums and ECDIS IMO model course. He was an expert in arbitrage case after sinking of m/v Angeln at New York court and expert for international requirement standards related to ship’s voyage data recorders in the arbitration case ad court in Hong Kong. Prof. Janusz Uriasz is a member of Council of Polish Navigation Forum and a member of Polish Nautical Society.

We understand that ESABALT is currently in its initial phases of implementation and therefore, there is a period of incubation before its results are significant enough to transform into recommendations for new policy initiatives. However, in each of the above instances, the project members continually strive to identify opportunities for influencing European and also Nordic policy and scientific strategy directions based on the best practices (especially in the maritime and navigation domains) learnt during the implementation of the ESABALT project.

Collaboration with other research programmes

ESABALT members are involved in number of other European Projects, which are focused on maritime safety and security matters, mariner’s qualification and skills, development of new technologies, introducing existing technologies into maritime field. Few relevant projects are listed here:

  • Critical Maritime Routes Gulf of Guinea, under the instrument for contributing to Stability and Peace (EuropeAid)
  • Framework Contract for the Instrument for Stability Lot 3 – Critical infrastructure and Counter-terrorism
  • Projects involving route optimization and collision avoidance based on statistical collection of global AIS information, in the MONALISA 2.0 project
  • Winter-time and optimized ice-aware maritime navigation through the STORMWINDS and VORIC projects

Paper on ESABALT receives the Best Student Paper Award at ENC 2015

‘Feasibility of Sentinel-1 data for Enhanced Maritime Safety and Situational Awareness’ was authored by Olli Nevalainen of the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute at the 2015 European Navigation Conference (ENC) in Bordeaux, France, 7-10th April.

One of the key tasks in the ESABALT project is to study how freely accessible data from Sentinel-1 (a satellite constellation of the European Copernicus program, which provides remote sensing imagery) can be used to improve maritime safety within the Baltic Sea by providing value-added data, such as sea ice maps and ship and oil spill detection services. Sentinel-1 provides radar imagery which is beneficial for marine environment monitoring, because radars can measure through clouds and are not dependent on sunlight which enables nighttime imaging).  The ESABALT project paper regarding this subject, titled “Feasibility of Sentinel-1 data for Enhanced Maritime Safety and Situational Awareness” was presented and awarded the Best Student Paper Award to Olli Nevalainen at ENC 2015.

This news was also published in an article in the May 2015 issue of the BONUS Bulletin, here.


ENC2015 Best Student Paper Award Winner Olli Nevalainen seen here at FGI with his Hyper Spectral Lidar

Finnish Archipelago as a Wintertime Test Field


Four of Finnish Geospatial Research Institute researchers made a test trip on m/s Viking Amorella on route Turku-Stockholm-Turku. Mild winter weather in the beginning of February granted perfect conditions for some testing related to ESABALT -project.

IMG_1675Liang Chen, Sarang Thombre, Stefan Söderholm, and Robert Guinness conducted the tests.

IMG_1922 (3)

The aim of this test campaign was to collect data generated by the ship’s own electronic systems, and also to determine the availability and performance of navigation and communication signals along the maritime route. Over the course of three days, data from the ship’s Differential GPS and AIS systems, engine room sensors, navigation satellites, the Finnish Reference GNSS network (FinnRef), local FM, Digital TV (DTV), 3G and LTE stations was collected.

In-person interviews were also conducted with the on-bridge crew responsible for navigating the vessel through the challenging Turku and Stockholm archipelagos. The results, observations, analysis and conclusions from this campaign will be summarized in a conference publication accepted to the Institute of Navigation’s GNSS+ conference in Autumn 2015 in USA. The results are expected to enable distillation of the most critical information for crowdsourcing in the maritime scenario and to enable devising strategies for automated data crowdsourcing from the vessels to make this process autonomous of crew/manual intervention.

ESABALT contribution to BONUS and EUSBSR

How can ESABALT contribute to BONUS and the European Union’s Strategy for Baltic Sea Region?

ESABALT is strongly aligned with the objectives of the BONUS program especially, Developing improved and innovative observation and data management systems, tools and methodologies for marine information needs in the Baltic Sea region.The project also satisfies three other themes of the BONUS strategic research agenda: Integrated approaches to coastal management, Maritime spatial planning from local to Baltic Sea region scale, and Enhanced, holistic cross-sector and cross-border maritime risk analysis and management. In this way, it will allow authorities to develop effective integrated approaches to coastal management.

ESABALT also contributes to implementation of certain aspects of the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. It directly addresses the Strategy’s Save the Sea objective in the part that focuses on safety and security of the BSR (sub-objectives Clean and Safe Shipping, and Better Cooperation). By delivery of current, high-quality, multi-faceted navigation-support data the project offers direct tools of efficient accident prevention thus providing significant aid to reaching the objective’s pre-set targets (“number of shipping accidents”). ESABALT provides solutions to the problem that marine data available at the moment are still fragmented and of uneven quality hence there is a need for data integration and better information sharing between various actors involved in shipping and shipping related services. Furthermore, the project adds to reinforcing preparedness and response capacity and to improving cooperation and coordination between various actors (maritime safety, security, surveillance and disaster response agencies), fulfilling the objective: Increased cross-border and cross-sector cooperation and information sharing among maritime authorities and other relevant stakeholders to improve maritime safety and security. ESABALT also satisfies the following EU SBSR area of special interest: Creation of common maritime management systems and monitoring, information and intelligence sharing environments for the Baltic Sea.

Business Potential for ESABALT

ESABALT – Is there a business potential? Yes ofcourse!

The potential market for ESABALT comprises of all those who navigate or plan to navigate in the Baltic, commercial as well as non-commercial. The market opportunity lies not necessarily in the users. ESABALT is planned to be free for end-users, but paid by other information providers, such as harbours, ports, and other service providers who are interested in the market of crowdsourced maritime data. This manner of an approach will bring benefits from an open-source type of a system. The project will demonstrate that a trusted, independent intermediary can collect, process, and store location and other maritime data using transparent and clearly documented methods. This will bring about a revolution in the location-based maritime services industry in particular small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)—and the maritime community. Companies and other entities can access the information derived from the crowdsourced maritime data to build innovative applications. For the shipping industry, ESABALT will contribute towards fuel-efficient and safe shipping resulting in reduced insurance costs. Integrating pleasure boats into the data crowdsourcing will enable them to contribute to coastal surveillance and monitoring, thus reducing the burden on already resource-strapped coastal authorities. Therefore, the system impact can be summarized in three categories; increased information sharing, increased number of users and aggregated information overview across national boundaries and administrative sectors.