The INSITE Program has launched a major collaboration between offshore industries and researchers, designed to give marine scientists access to valuable industry-acquired ecological data.

INSITE is a scientific research programme to increase understanding of the influence of man-made structures on the ecosystem of the North Sea. It has attracted recognition and support from industry, government through BEIS and DEFRA, and the scientific community through the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Now in its fifth year, following the completion of a Foundation Phase of research, the Program has moved into a second phase.

A key outcome from the Foundation Phase was that new data is needed to maximize the outcomes from the science program. The second phase of INSITE has been developed in partnership with NERC and CEFAS, which in addition to a significant funded research program, also includes a ground-breaking data collaboration between industry and science. A new GIS-based data sharing portal ‘INSITE Interactive’ has been developed to give scientists visibility of industry data made available for INSITE researchers.

2 Richard HeardINSITE Program Director, Richard Heard

Commenting on the launch of INSITE Interactive, INSITE Program Director, Richard Heard said: “This data Initiative is crucial to furthering the scientific objectives that were set out by INSITE in 2014. At the conclusion of a successful INSITE Phase 1, the need for high quality data to describe the ecosystem in the North Sea and enhance the scientific outcomes from the research was clear.

“This tool has been developed to provide a robust process for scientists to identify data collected by industry during their operations, which could be used to further research into the role of anthropogenic structures in the ecosystem. The new portal provides a GIS-based reference for sourcing industry held ecological data relating to offshore structures. We are pleased that the initiative has been enthusiastically embraced by the research community developing proposals under the NERC call and look forward to extending access to the wider scientific community.”

With its specialist GIS capability, Aberdeen based energy consultancy Xodus Group was selected to facilitate the delivery of the tool.

3 Christina HorspoolChristina Horspool, Xodus’ Environment Manager

Christina Horspool, Xodus’ environment manager said: “As a company, we pride ourselves on knowledge sharing and collaboration. This work is crucial for the INSITE project as it provides visibility of available industry data for the first time and bridges the gap between industry and academia, helping communication between two very different worlds for mutual gain. Our specialists have extensive experience in the needs of the research community and therefore were able to apply that understanding in the development of the tool. We look forward to playing an ongoing role in this unique INSITE data-sharing initiative.”

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