Many reasons explain the introduction of standardization and interoperability concepts while working on the definition of an underwater network of observatories.
First of all, underwater observatories are not easily accessible and servicing may be very difficult. As seen in space sciences, planning and logistic efforts have to be made to optimize any intervention. This is the main reason for having standards, as instruments can be tested and integrated in a defined procedure before deployment. It lends itself to the concept of introducing quality management or mission assurance procedures.
Then, using standards make interoperability possible, at interchange-ability level but also when dealing with data processing. On top of that schemes of sensor information, metadata would facilitate the interoperability by enabling the integration of different sources of information into a common system.
Finally, standardization processes are expected to generate added value and benefits in an economic context:
- enhanced product quality and reliability,
- reduction in costs,
- increased efficiency and ease of maintenance,
- simplify and improve usability,
- greater compatibility and interoperability of goods and services,
- improved health, safety and environmental protection.
In order to meet these requirements, it will be essential to get European industrial players from the field and in particular SMEs involved in the standard definition process with the aim of reaching consensus between the major players from academia, government institutions and industry. Involved SMEs will be gathered in a group of Providers of Equipment and Services for Observatory Systems (PESOS); their specific objective will be the sharing of best practices and knowledge and the definition of standards for installing and operating observatory systems.
Keeping in mind the various backgrounds, interests, methodologies or experiences of involved partners, the most suitable approach seems to define a roadmap for the standardization of deep sea observatories. In other words, the process shall initiate the tacking of the standardization issues.
In the context of ESONET NoE, three main application domains require standardization efforts:
- sensors and scientific packages,
- systems engineering and quality assurance/quality control procedures,
- underwater intervention.
In each case, the following worflow shall be applied:
- plan and setup the standardization project,
- investigate existing standards by trying to apply them to the current situation,
- define standards and
- apply pre-defined standards.
Sensor and scientific packages
Regarding sensor and scientific packages, focus shall be put on:
- interfaces (power, data, communication),
- mechanical layout and interfaces (for possible recovery by intervention systems),
- performance targets (e.g. measuring ranges, accuracy, long term stability etc.),
- design and manufacturing criteria,
- qualification and acceptance tests.
Quality assurance / quality control
This task shall address the definition of a set of procedures/guidelines/recommendations applicable to the various subsystems constituting a deep sea observatory. Aspects covered shall be in the field of design, manufacturing, test and qualification, integration, operation and documentation related to ocean observatory equipments.
Sharing testing facilities and procedures
This task will focus on promoting debates and exchanges of information between partners on:
- existing testing facilities: on land, in coastal water areas or deep sea sites,
- functionnal and environmental test procedures of equipment,
- calibration of sensors and measuring system.
The final objective is to reach shared use of partner facilities and to get an agreed set of testing and calibration procedures of common use by Esonet community. A network collaborative space will be opened for contributions by interested Esonet partners and structured information will be made available to all in dedicated "Test facilities and procedures database".
Access to the database is restricted to Esonet partners with password following the link: https://wwz.ifremer.fr/esonet_emso/Partners-only/Work-Package-Space/WP2-Standardization-and-interoperability
This task will therefore focus on the problem of underwater intervention on deep sea observatories, by defining:
- criteria for a design of deep sea observatories taking into account the accessibility by a ROV or AUV or even a seafloor surface vehicle (working spaces for manipulation, docking points, visual aids for approach etc.),
- criteria to ensure the possibility of recovery and re-installation of specific observatory components requiring substitution in case of failure or need for maintenance/recalibration by ROV, leaving the observatory in place,
- MOU to facilitate time exchanges of ROVs between European institutes.