BLUEWATER: TWO SIDES OF A EURO-COIN TO CURRY CONVICTION AS EC fp6 subPROJECT
This is all about monitoring for real-time assurance (safety, early warning, prevention, etc) without undue intrusion on privacy (well-found fears about authoritarian abuse of covert CCTV).
Blue Water was an fp5 IST project predicated on discrimination of leisure and consumable water anomalies by inspection of surface characteristics. Intended implementation was defined as augmentation of established procedures for acquisition of Blue Flag status, long since recognised as economically crucial to tourist resorts for customer confidence. Originating from EC initiatives BF indeed has been a singular success for the EC as permeation vehicle for awareness and recognition of real benefit by a sceptical European public. More recently BF has become sadly diminished in terms of media coverage that remains crucial for awareness of the EC role for public good. BW was envisaged as a makeover opportunity for BF, reminding the public that the EC remains vigilant at the cutting edge of emergent capabilities.
BW was deemed successful in first proving of principles and pilots but by any sensible standards remains as an RTD project worthy of “grand challenge” status for its cutting edge multidisciplinary foundation advances, including of course in biochemophysical hydrodynamics for reliable attribution of significance to the amorphous anomalies that signature natural water surface patterns across the EM spectrum. Technologically, BW’s niche resides in ground-based imaging over kilometric zones achieving spatio-temporal resolutions that cannot be competitively matched by satellite systems.
Educationally, BW was and is envisaged as an extraordinarily versatile opportunity to access public attention, akin to that achieved by almost universal daily television coverage given to mountain resorts across mainland Europe ~ initially of course not via national services but rather through location of HCI consoles in popular gathering places like hotel lobbies, bars and entertainment venues like cinemas, theatres, etc. People have acquired a taste for previewing the skiing, climbing and rambling opportunities at prospective resorts and with BW they will be able to do the same for leisure waters. It is envisaged the cost of introducing and consolidating this service will be met from fees for promotion of local services carried alongside the internet relayed information on water quality and forecasts. Put this way it’s certainly a big vision but then it is a grand challenge every which way.
So why pitch for attention in this programme. Well, just about the biggest hurdle was and still is generation of advanced algorithms for confident segmentation and retrieval of amorphous anomalies residing in almost equally amorphous backgrounds. First steps were achieved in the fp5 project courtesy of Aston University’s David Lowe, a world-renowned expert in the broader arenas of image information extraction including safety critical sectors of military and clinical diagnostics. Advances achieved under a BW banner will be of springboard significance for all communities desiring greater precision and confidence in attribution of significance to anomalies ~ one rather obvious and ready example would be in screening for cancers. So the algorithms that need to be developed will be both advanced and pervasive!
That’s why I’m pitching for attention here ~ and why me? ~ well, I hold originating concept IP manifested in a PCT patent application now approaching designated national phase. If the opportunity is as significant as it appears then procurement of IP revenues will be important for Europe and would be seen an ostrich feather in the EC cap, providing the necessary financial assistance is forthcoming of course!
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BW emerged from a decade of defence work on surfactants for calming surface waves so as to reduce underwater noise. Main functional outcome was physicochemical prescriptions for biodegradable materials up to 100 times more effective than established ones, so good in fact they were adopted by the US Navy for satellite tracking of deep ocean surface currents. Main fundamental outcome was new working of the mode coupling dispersion relation to account for stilling of wind-driven waves and good working insight into nanoscale physicochemical factors for stilling over fetches to 100s metres, later condensed into an academic project on surf zone suppression by surfactants. After the defence dividend budget of 1997 decimated most micro-consultancy I turned to civil conversion of these capabilities, in particular the imaging of pervasive filming anomalies as economising adjunct to expensive protocols in sample and assay for water assurance.
An EC fp5 IST project (concluded Nov02) confirmed that cheap CCTV suffices for discrimination of surface anomalies in zones to 100ha per unit. This achievement points the way to prospects of not merely economies in spot sampling for laboratory analysis (E2000 each) but of increased assurance from continuous monitoring of intensively used waters often with conflicting demands from leisure and maritime industries. These two perspectives come together as prospects for improved protocols utilising prior targeting of hot spots / times for extraction of more meaningful samples. Needing camera elevations of only a few 10s of metres, pole or roof mounted permanent units will suffice for typical realisations, not excluding the possibility of advanced installations utilising gyro-stabilised blimp platforms for larger fields and / or mobility between sites of special scientific concern in relation to climate and flood issues.
Resource is now needed for commercialisation of IPR on these aspects, also for evaluation of IR and UV options in extended discrimination of film origins (thermal for hydrocarbons, fluorescent for biopolymers), more ambitiously LIDAR (and emergent MS variants) for spot speciation via adjoining aerosol inferred worthwhile from visible band imaging of white-caps. Leisure outlets were always seen as most obvious, especially for their inevitable conflicts of interest with industrial and maritime operations, and such implementations were envisaged to extend to explanatory consoles in a role akin to that played by now mostly defunct meteorological displays at seaside resorts but web-linked also for local promotion of events, products, services, etc. The package prospect is excitingly novel as testified by almost clean sheets of prior art claims in patent office responses to lodging of initial, international and now national applications.