Satellite data has been used in EO services for the oil & gas industry for many years. Examples include exploration both on land and at sea, monitoring of sea state conditions for off-shore installations during both design and operations phases, monitoring of sea ice and icebergs for rig protection and of course most topically, monitoring of oil spills. In respect of the latter we heard a fascinating account of the operations conducted in the gulf to provide daily surveillance of the oil leaking from the Macondo well using up to 47 aircraft and several satellites. It was organised almost like a military operation.
Despite this long history of working together both oil and EO services industries experts were calling for a closer dialogue; oil industry was saying “tell us what you can do”, and the EO service providers were saying “tell us what you need”. And this was between two sectors which have already experience of working together.
I was also a few days later at the annual Security Research Conference. This event is organised in the autumn by the current EU presidency – so in this case it was held in Ostend in Belgium. It is the 5th such event and is generally focused on the activities surrounding the European Security Research programme (ESRP) funded under the EU Framework Programme 7.
Here, the sectors representing supply and users are far less familiar with each other and there are similar calls to understand better what each expects/needs/wants. Whilst users are often included in the teams for research projects as advisors, or sounding boards, this is not sufficient to develop sustainable products adapted to a European market. The lack of common requirements amongst the large number of users means that products become bespoke and not very competitive. A common theme is the lack of resources within users’ organizations to look ahead at the products that could help in their jobs.
In both cases one solution to me seems to be somewhat similar. That is to create fora whereby supply and demand can meet in a neutral arena. In so doing we can learn each others language and develop a far better mutual understanding in a non-competitive environment. At the same time participation of many players also avoids a narrow view and possibly restrictive solutions.
EARSC has a strong role to play in this respect as do other umbrella bodies on both sides of the business and hopefully, in the months to come, we can find ways to offer members the possibility to engage with one or more user communities.