The blue economy—work related to our oceans—is a crucial economy of today and tomorrow. From aquaculture for food to offshore wind farms and innovative solutions like algae-based plastics, the ocean offers enormous resource and potential. On the other hand, these vast waters are in danger, threatened by pollution and destabilizing climate change. It’s never been more important to take care of our oceans for the sake of both the planet and our industries. At the heart of the blue economy is the recognition that our efforts to protect the oceans are paid back in economic growth—the two are tied together. With great potential for innovation, the worldwide ocean economy is expected to double by 2030. So it makes sense that we should be directing attention—and technologies—that way. Here are some Microsoft technologies boosting the blue economy that serve as examples and starting points for more work in this important area.
Providing Land and Sea Energy with Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)
Aker Solutions is a global leader in sustainable energy. It’s an integrated energy services company based in Norway that aims to provide low-carbon and renewable solutions to customers. Much of their work is in offshore installations. In addition to its customer services, Aker’s own corporate goal is to reach net-zero CO2 levels by 2050. As their Enterprise Architect Lijo John says, “Our success depends on combining the physical world with technology.”
Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) gives Aker’s employees, who are spread out in worldwide locations including for offshore projects, connected access and powerful functionality just like a desktop on any device. Even those on ocean missions have access to GPU-enabled, high performance computing capabilities. And by moving their global data center to Azure, the company estimates that they’ve cut their CO2 emissions by 40%.
Waste Treatment Solutions with Dynamics 365
Kurita Water Industries provides industrial waste treatment solutions that aren’t harmful to the environment. They offer solutions like environmentally sound water treatment chemicals, industrial cleaning, and remediation for soil and groundwater contamination. They wanted to grow their customer base and create more personalized customer experiences—so they looked to Microsoft Dynamics 365 to turn their customer data into useful insights. In addition to greater data visibility, they were especially pleased with the ability to embed Teams chat within Dynamics 365 Sales using Context IQ. These new capabilities transformed their communications and customer interactions, expanding their reach in sustainable water treatment.
Coastguard Search and Rescue Saves Lives with the Help of Surface Hub
Safety in ocean areas is another important concern. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) provides 24-hour maritime search and rescue service around the UK coast—nearly 8,000 miles. Of course, locating missing individuals or vessels quickly is critical. The team of over 4,500 workers and volunteers uses Surface Hub to map and follow incidents. They draw out their search plans and can view maps from any angle or put them in 3D. With Teams integrated, they can easily connect with one another and gain live views of other stations as necessary. These solutions have also reduced the costs of staff training and travel, allowing them to operate as effectively as possible and focus on quickly finding those in danger.
Marine Services with HoloLens
The Nova Scotia-based company LeeWay Marine specializes in ocean data. Their services also include search and rescue, as well as ocean research, geophysical surveys, naval defense, and environmental response. They make use of advanced technologies to take on complex projects like mapping the ocean floor and conducting marine mammal surveys. Likening their ships to “floating cities,” they gain an average of $25,000 a day in revenue by being able to troubleshoot technical issues from out at sea instead of having to stop a mission and return to shore.
The sea is also a dangerous place for crews (“The ocean just wants to kill you—at all times,” says CEO Jamie Sangster), so LeeWay began looking into mixed reality for vessel operations management. They use the Azure-based RemoteSpark platform with HoloLens 2 devices so their expert technicians can be on ships without physically being on them. They can securely share live audio and video, 3D content, and holographic annotations with crews. These capabilities function even in remote, low-bandwidth scenarios. No more unnecessary project stops or flying technicians out to sea—a great benefit for business and the environment.
Department of Natural Resources uses Azure AI
Washington State’s Department of Natural Resources studies the effects of climate change and serves to protect the health of Washington’s waters. They collect massive amounts of data, much of it video footage from continuous monitoring of aquatic environments. All these long video files need to be classified and analyzed—an excellent job for AI. The ecologist team has begun using Azure Cognitive services to pilot their projects and Azure Machine Learning to build and deploy high-quality data models that can analyze their video footage, saving months of their scientists’ time. As seagrass ecologist Jeff Gaeckle said, “AI is a growing field in natural resources because it expands what we can accomplish with the limited funding for this type of work.” Expanding those capabilities makes a huge difference in this important area of research.
Which Microsoft Technologies Boosting the Blue Economy Will be the Next to Make a Difference?
These are just a few examples of the awesome work people are doing in marine environments with the help of Microsoft tools. How else could those working in water health, natural resources, or marine industries expand their capabilities with enhanced technologies? If you’re curious or working in one of these fields, we want to brainstorm with you and make innovative ideas happen. The Infused Innovations team has expert knowledge and experience with the Microsoft ecosystem, and we’ll be your partner in designing and carrying out technology-boosted projects that are good for your business, good for the blue economy, and good for our world.