EMODnet and European defence

02 February 2023

On 23 and 24 January 2023, marine environmental research scientist Mrs. Claudia Coman, data ambassador for EMODnet Ingestion in Cyprus, participated as observer to the Cyprus International Defence and Security Conference in Limassol.

The event was organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The conference was attended by, and included discussions with eminent personalities both from Cyprus and abroad including the European Defense Agency, the Directorate for Defence Industry and Space of the European Commission (DG DEFIS) and major companies of the European Defence Industry including companies from Cyprus.

The purpose of the conference was to highlight the emerging Defence Industry of the Republic of Cyprus and to present the new trends in technologies, the lessons learned from the recent conflicts as well as the synergies between the Armed and Security Forces. For the EMODnet ambassador, it was also an opportunity to learn how marine data is used by the security and defence sectors and to gain insight on what synergies can be developed between the EMODnet services and European security.

With the prospect of win-win synergies in mind, Mrs. Claudia Coman had the opportunity to promote EMODnet Bathymetry as one of the marine data themes that could be used for defence and security and let them know a.o. that EMODnet has the ability to archive and process bathymetric data from European Navies. In particular, she discussed with several representatives of defence technology companies about how marine data can serve their needs regarding the deployment of such technology at sea or on the coast. She also found out that a lot of advancements in defence technology, like unmanned vehicles (UAVs, USVs, and UUVs), can be used for data gathering as well as maritime monitoring and surveillance which in turn would be an opportunity for EMODnet and environment monitoring.

“EMODnet has the capacity to enhance European security and defence by informing decision makers about the coastal terrain and marine environment as part of the planning process for military operations” said Mrs. Claudia Coman, EMODnet Data Ingestion ambassador for Cyprus.

During the conference, she informed Cyprus government officials and defence industry representatives of the availability and accessibility of marine data on the EMODnet data portal as an effective pan-European marine data infrastructure. In turn, the military has a wide range of marine (historical) data but this is often inaccessible due to security restrictions which sometimes no longer apply. As our world becomes more and more interconnected, we hope to overcome these barriers and integrate our respective data in the near future.

Some navy nationals have already taken the step; this is the case of the Belgian Navy which shared in 2021 fourteen years of CTD, turbidity and chlorophyll data that were shared and published to EMODnet Chemistry and Physics. These data had been collected by autonomous underwater vehicles during 880 missions across Europe for port protection and mine hunting operations.

In conclusion, given the maturity of EMODnet and the change of mentality on certain military data that no longer needs to remain classified, there is hope for future cooperation with the Defence sector to ingest this data into EMODnet and exploit products and services in return in a win-win approach.  

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