1 May 2019
It's hoped the research will provide a roadmap to transform how  science is used to manage our ocean.
It's hoped the research will provide a roadmap to transform how science is used to manage our ocean.

Research by IBM data professionals and marine scientists from UQ and WWF has revealed new ways technology could be used to improve ocean management.

Lead author, WWF’s Dr Linwood Pendleton, said most businesses could not be managed without having real-time information about an inventory, but that's exactly how much of the ocean is being managed.

“The vast majority of ocean data remains locked away in notebooks, on laptops, and buried on websites,” Dr Pendleton said.

“Ocean and coastal managers can’t use data that they can’t find.

“Fortunately, advances in data sharing, management, and even social marketing – already widely used in business, finance, and even health care – could unlock these treasure troves of ocean data.”

Co-author, UQ Global Change Institute Director Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said he hoped the research would provide a roadmap to transform how science is used to manage our ocean.

“The United Nations has declared the next 10 years as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and this is our initial contribution to that grand endeavour,” he said.

In August 2018, seven IBM data professionals joined ocean conservation scientists from WWF, The University of Queensland, and the Australian Institute of Marine Science for a month-long brainstorming workshop to identify ways to make accessible the ocean data conservationists and managers need to ensure that ocean ecosystems survive a future in which climate change and economic growth imperil ecosystems worldwide.

While the initial focus was coral reef conservation, it became obvious that the challenges and solutions that faced coral reef managers applied across ocean ecosystems.

Leading Australian marine scientist Dr Lyndon Llewellyn of the Australian Institute of Marine Science said the Great Barrier Reef was one of the best-studied ecosystems in the world.

“Managing all of the data these studies have produced is mind boggling and the flow of data is only getting bigger, faster and more diverse as even more scientists, organisations and citizens join the effort to understand and protect it,” he said.

Recent advances in data collection technology mean that we have more ocean data than ever.

But getting that data into the cloud and then finding it remains a challenge.

Latin American Senior Manager from IBM Argentina Guillermo Olmedo said getting data out of the realm of science and into the hands of ocean professionals wasn’t all that different from getting products “from artisans to consumers”.

The research paper includes proposals for data-impact factors, web interfaces that use artificial intelligence to automate data uploading, and even the creation of a ‘combinatorial machine’ that would provide a one-stop-shop, and social network, for data producers and users.

The research is published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science.

Paper: Disrupting Data Sharing for a Healthier Ocean: https://academic.oup.com/icesjms/advance-article/doi/10.1093/icesjms/fsz068/5480138?searchresult=1

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