Initially available in early 2020 in parallel with the NERC Announcement of Opportunity, INSITE Interactive is now being used by researchers that have had their funding confirmed. Using the GIS-based data sharing portal, which was launched at the beginning of October 2021, scientists can now access metadata, which provide information on the type of survey data and reports available around man-made installations including platforms, pipelines, renewables infrastructure and marine aggregates extraction sites.
The INSITE Interactive portal is a data sharing platform which for the first time provides scientists with access to ecological data owned by the oil and gas operators and the Crown Estate to aid the description of the North Sea. The tool is indispensable to the INSITE Programme as it provides scientists visibility of catalogued industry data and is the vector by which scientists will be able to address data gaps and in turn enhance scientific outcomes from marine research projects.
The tool is the result of a major collaboration between offshore industries and researchers, designed to create a bridge between research and industry by giving marine scientists access to valuable industry-acquired ecological data for the first time.
Access for funded projects
Following the development of the GIS-based data sharing portal, scientists can now access metadata held within the GIS-based which provide information on the type of survey data and reports available around man-made installations including platforms, pipelines, renewables infrastructure and marine aggregates extraction sites. These data will be collated and disseminated to the relevant NERC-funded research projects from late 2020 into early 2021. The portal will help overcome the disconnect between industry and academia, which has to date, hindered the understanding of the impacts of man-made structures on the North Sea ecosystems.
INSITE Interactive maps metadata provided by oil and gas operators and the Marine Data Exchange from a range of surveys conducted around man-made installations. This includes surveys completed close to platforms, pipelines, renewables infrastructure and marine aggregates extraction sites. The surveys include information on water depth, sediment type, sediment contaminants and seabed fauna.
On INSITE Interactive, the metadata can be overlaid with publicly available data within the Portal, including:
- Hydrocarbon fields and existing oil & gas wells and installations;
- Offshore oil & gas and renewables licence areas;
- Protected sites of the Marine Protected Areas network;
- Seabed habitat distribution, including those that are protected under Annex I of the EC Habitats Directive;
- UK Benthos data, that holds information on sediment chemistry and fauna from sediment samples;
- Location of wrecks.
Xodus Group supports INSITE in facilitating the collection and dissemination of data to the relevant NERC-funded research projects. Scientists will also have an opportunity to request additional data from INSITE Interactive in Q1 2021.
It is expected that this Phase of the INSITE Programme will facilitate the publication of peer-reviewed papers from these research projects. It will set a precedent for what can be achieved when industry and academia collaborate, and will be a first step to potentially developing this relationship on a much wider scale (i.e. increasing the amount of data available to researchers) and make the access to ecological data a simpler process.