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Oceanic Engineering in Europe

In June 2005, the Oceanic Engineering community will gather in Brest for Oceans'05 Europe. This wide term of Oceanic Engineering covers in fact all EE (Electrical Engineering) activities related to the probing, measuring and understanding of the ocean. These domains encompass a very large field, which goes beyond the traditional underwater acoustics, instrumentation and processing. This year 2005 is at the same time the International Year of Physics and the centenary of Jules Verne's death. Oceans'05 Europe will try to match the greatness of these two major events through its Technical and Exhibit Program as well as by being associated with the Jules Verne Exhibition displayed at Oceanopolis throughout the conference. On the theme "Today's technology for a sustainable future", the Conference will offer an outstanding technical program, tutorials and an exhibition show in the cozy conference center, Le Quartz. Social events will bring you all over Brest from the City Hall reception room to the now famous greatest display of fish in France at Oceanopolis.

As usual, a large part of the conference is devoted to underwater acoustics processing and systems (AUVs, ROVs, etc.). But, the conference is not restricted to these classical domains of instrumentation and offers lots of openings for the environmental concerns - oil spill monitoring, biotechnology, living resources - or the societal impacts of marine policies - coastal zone management, marine safety and security, etc. Another field linking the instrumentation approach and the policy makers deals with data, data connections and management. The IEEE, as a major international organization, is a member of the GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems) and has been examining the technical issues and challenges of integrating diverse measurement systems, models and communication structures to provide information to decision makers on a global scale. In the ocean segment of GEOSS, many specific issues need to be addressed. There are extensive measurement gaps in both the northern and southern hemispheres (including the combination of remote sensing and in situ systems). In addition to measurements, the propagation of standards for GOOS (Global Ocean Observing Systems) needs to be broader. This includes agreement on measurement approaches and how to train for routine system operations, the introduction of metadata standards and the integration of deep-ocean and near-shore measurements into a single unified data set.

The rough numbers that we can read here and there about human beings is that about ¾ of mankind live - on average - within 30 km of the ocean (or sea). On the other hand, it is well known that more than 70% of the Earth's surface is water. Another fact is that we are daily facing a stream of data pouring from space. We are all familiar with the words "Mega" (10^6) or "Giga" (10^9): here we are talking "Terabytes" (10^12) or "Petabytes" (10^15) of data to download, analyze, understand, transform in a way accessible to the end-user.

Efforts are presently being made in the early stages of design development and implementation in both the environmental data collection arena and the realm of computer storage and processing that could have a profound effect on both the timeliness and accuracy of the test and evaluation process in the near future. The most promising one - as stated above - is the ongoing multinational GEOSS project that will, when implemented, provide a comprehensive worldwide environmental database available to researchers on demand. This will enable a more judicious selection of testing environments for emerging ocean technologies. The computer storage technique will enable the development of more sophisticated evaluation models both for test planning and performance prediction and the important post test system evaluation to determine feasibility.

So in conclusion - and if all these programs are for real - I can say that a vision for the near future will mean a better use of resources, not from an energy point of view but from an information and knowledge one. I hope that the technology and its by-product, the information, will be dedicated "to serve Man first".

Welcome to Brest,

René Garello

General Chairman

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