ODI Fridays: Saving lives at sea with data

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Fri Feb 12, 2021 13:00
Online
Chris Emberson from Southampton University shares how open marine incident data could be the answer to saving more lives

Join us on Zoom at lunchtime for our regular ODI Fridays talks. Once you’ve signed up, we’ll send you the link to join.

When a 999 emergency call is made to the Coastguard in the UK, the relatively seamless, well-oiled nature of the process would lead most people to assume that only one organisation is behind the heroic rescue effort. In reality, a variety of organisations come together to perform a rescue operation and the data generated by this are equally as broad and diverse.

Similarly, the fact that many organisations work harmoniously in this way would lead us to assume that all data generated from marine incidents are harnessed and pooled for maximum mutual benefit. Coupled with the UK Government’s drive towards transparent open data over the past decade, it is also a fair assumption that marine incident data would be publicly available, in a similar way to UK Police crime statistics. In reality, neither of these two assumptions are true. Apart from the RNLI who have only just entered the open data arena in 2020, marine incident data in the UK are mostly closed and not even shared freely among agencies that may benefit from their use.

Marine incident data can only be made publicly available after they are shared internally between first responder agencies. The Open Marine Data project is about presenting a blue-print for how these issues may be solved. Chris Emberson from Southampton University shares the complexities surrounding the collection of data on a marine incident, including its ‘varying’ location, as well as how the emergence of automated approaches to data sharing in the emergency services sector can be used to make data sharing more instantaneous. We conclude by demonstrating how open data can be used to inform the ‘real-time’ picture of where people are located in a coastal setting, demonstrating the value of open marine incident data.

About the speaker

Chris Emberson is a specialist in geographical information with over 20 years’ experience in analysing and mapping the fluidity of human behaviour. Chris has worked with GeoData at the University of Southampton since 2017, where he has previously managed the development of a near-real-time marine data risk model, for the promotion of safety in inshore waters. Chris is a proponent of open source data and technologies, particularly those with a spatial bias that have allowed GIS to become a more mainstream discipline.