UNDERSEE - Maritime satellites for environmental monitoring in rivers, lakes and oceans

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Water quality testing is critical when ensuring public heath, tourism or sustainable business. In many cases, however, governments and operators do not guarantee a frequent schedule of water testing and regulatory enforcements for water quality. Concerning the risks of water contaminations, governments and users must adopt a new decision-making approach from a reactive process to a preventive process, so it is crucial the implementation of a new business model based not only on the knowledge about the state of the water, but also in real-time alerts and predicting possible threats. As such, a demand of innovative solutions for water quality monitoring is needed, especially concerning real-time data analysis with less human intervention.

By 2025, UN aims to prevent and reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution. 

UNDERSEE solution allows users to monitor and predict water quality changes in rivers, lakes and oceans, without dealing with sensors maintenance. We provide an end-to-end service with an integrated offering of hardware, software, installation, maintenance and customer support, based on a Connected Product-as-a- Service model where customers subscribe for the usage of the product (data-based fee) and automated decision-making tools.

Users and their needs

Users are Research Centres, Environmental Agencies, Municipalities or Aquaculture Producers, which can use our solution to move from a reactive to a preventive decision-making approach regarding water quality changes and environmental impact assessments in rivers, lakes and oceans, based on actionable data. The main user needs are: 

  • Lower monitoring operational costs;
  • Validation of numerical models and Earth Observation Data (EOD) products with in-situ data;
  • Public reporting (legal compliance);
  • Predictability of sudden water quality changes; 

The lack of real measurements of water quality variables affects the reliability of numerical simulations. Some water quality parameters can be measured via satellite, but for predictions to be accurate, satellite measurements need to be validated by in-situ data. To meet the challenges, we need to integrate in-situ data, satellite data and numerical modelling. UNDERSEE developed a compact and easy to install in-situ water data acquisition system (UNDERSEE_water) and a user-friendly cloud platform (UNDERSEE_cloud) combined with EOD products and predictive models.

Real-time in-situ water data can be collected from existing vessels - Ships of Opportunity- and integrated with satellite data and predictive models in the Undersee_cloud. Standard water quality parameters include water temperature, pH, Dissolved Oxygen (DO), Oxidation/Reduction Potential (ORP), Salinity/Conductivity, Turbidity and Chlorophyll-α (phytoplankton biomass indicator).

Portugal, Spain, UK, Norway and Chile.

Service/ system concept

The service is composed by the following value layers and correspondent technologies: 

  • Real-time water quality data:In-situ water data acquisition system and communications;
  • Managing tools: Data Fusion & Web Services;
  • Early warnings: Predictive models;

Based on the user needs and constraints, UNDERSEE offers a service that:

  • Does not require in-situ sensors cleaning and calibration;
  • Has plug-and-play characteristics, meaning that there is no need of technical and sophisticated know-how to operate;
  • Have a data storage and analysis tools implemented in a user-friendly cloud platform;
  • Enables the integration of early warnings for possible threats;

Open-net pen aquaculture producers can use our solution to prevent production losses and optimize fish feeding and growth - Precision Aquaculture. Among other features,users can have access topredictions about dissolved oxygen for the upcoming days and early warnings by SMS or e-mail about possible algae blooms threats or severe oxygen depletion events.

Space Added Value

UNDERSEE is developing an end-to-end service that relies on in-situ water data integrated with advanced image processing of Copernicus data (Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3), and use of GNSS and SATCOM which enables: 

  • Real-time water quality dynamic maps in our cloud platform instead of graphics or spreadsheets;
  • Improved reliability of data due to data fusion;
  • Continuous validation of EOD products and predictive models;
  • Early warnings of water changes for the upcoming days
  • In-situ data transmission from anywhere in the globe;

Among other water quality parameters, Chlorophyll-a is measured from space and integrated in the system architecture. Chlorophyll-a measurement is an important component of Indicator 14.1.1: Index of Coastal Eutrophication (ICEP) – SDG 14. Coastal eutrophication is detrimental to the marine environment when excessive amounts of nutrients enter the water due to terrestrial runoff and result in potentially harmful algal blooms. The prevention of natural occurrence of harmful algal blooms events is not possible however early warning systems can allow decision-makers to put in place measures to safeguard health and business operations.

Current Status

The Kick-start activity is completed and allowed the team to learn how to communicate the service concept in a clearer and structured way to potential customers. We were able to refine our value proposition, validate our pricing strategy and estimate the market size. 

The most important achievement during the project was the engagement with an early adopter of our service, which represents the beginning of a long-term relationship for future projects and value co-creation. Other big achievements were the capacity to attract complementary funding from the KETmaritime Interreg program, a prize from BlueBio Value program and impact investment from Katapult Ocean.

Our full-service architecture still requires ongoing hardware and software ongoing developments. Partners for a Demonstration Project were identified and currently we are scheduling regular meetings to form the consortium and to plan the implementation in a relevant customer scenario to be started on the Q4 of 2019.

Prime Contractor

Status Date

Updated: 26 July 2019 - Created: 26 July 2019