About the conference

At this critical time for our global seas and oceans, the Blue Data Conference brings together leading experts in ocean science, marine data and the blue economy to explore the transformative power of blue data. Together, we seek to address some of the defining questions for our ocean industries and for the marine environment.


26 January 2021


10:00 - 12:00 (GMT)


Addressing the big questions

We will bring together opinion leaders from the global marine community to share their insight and expertise on the key challenges facing us all, address key questions when it comes to our oceans, and find effective solutions together.

The blue economic opportunity

How do we unlock the vast potential of the blue economy?

Discover how the blue economy has the potential to change millions of lives around the world, how it could unlock trillions of dollars of sustainable economic value, and how we can realise these benefits.

Data and sustainable development

How do we harness the power of the oceans to reach our sustainable development goals?

Hear from experts who are setting the agenda on the sustainable management of our ocean resources and find out how data and partnerships are transforming our relationship with our oceans for the better.

The future of navigation

How will shipping's digital revolution shape the next era of navigation technologies?

Find out how shipping's digital and data transformation is redefining the future of navigation, from the bridge to the boardroom. From driving safety standards and unlocking new efficiencies, to supporting the advance of autonomous shipping
The Blue Economic opportunity

Addressing the big marine questions

Rear Admiral Peter Sparkes UK Hydrographic Office |  Cathrine  Armour UK Hydrographic Office  

The UKHO’s Acting Chief Executive and National Hydrographer, RAdm Peter Sparkes, will open the conference with a welcome address, followed by a short film about the importance of blue data for the future of navigation, sustainable development and the wider blue economy. 

Chief Customer Officer, Cathrine Armour, will then introduce the UKHO and its unique position of being able to gather, store and share blue data for the global maritime community.

Elinor Skelley, Head of New Data Acquisition, will also be introduced as moderator throughout the broadcast.

The Blue Economic opportunity

Unlocking the potential of the Blue Economy

James Bidwell Re_Set & Springwise

What is the blue economy and what does it mean for our daily lives?  

The blue economy – from shipping through to renewable energy – is a vast and almost completely untapped well of economic and social potential, estimated to grow to a value of £3.2 trillion by 2030. Governments, international regulators and commercial partners understand the potential of the blue economy, but we must now come together to decide how we move forward to develop blue economic thinking.

For developed and developing nations alike, the greater understanding we have about the world’s oceans, the better placed we are to respond to this opportunity. Bringing together comprehensive research and key industry trends, James will explore how together we can use this understanding to unlock the full potential of the blue economy.

This will include:
›       How innovation and technology is impacting the blue economy
›       How we can ensure the sustainable use of our oceans
›       How data is key to unlocking vast economic and social opportunities

The Blue Economic opportunity

How can spatial data help countries unlock the potential of the blue economy?

George Huish UK Hydrographic Office  

What is MSDI and how can it be implemented to support a thriving blue economy? Learn about MSDI Professional Services and how Marine Data Portals can play a key role in developing a thriving blue economy, exploring the UKHO’s work with developing portals for countries across the globe.  

At the UKHO, we hold a wealth of marine geospatial data from the seabed, to the coast, offshore and beyond. To help make these data sets discoverable, accessible and downloadable to wider users, in 2019 we launched the ADMIRALTY Marine Data Portal – a single access point for a wealth of marine geospatial data, from seabed to surface.  

We are developing a series of Marine Data Portals (underpinned by the principles of MSDI) for Overseas Territories, such as Anguilla). These portals give access to marine geospatial data critical to supporting the sustainable development of each territory’s blue economy, enabling the development of critical infrastructure and the protection of marine environments and supporting disaster resilience activities.   

George will deliver a presentation on how the UKHO have developed the Anguilla Data Hub, using MSDI principles to help Anguilla and others develop their marine economy. This includes:

›     Overview of MSDI, the principles and how marine data can help Anguilla and others to develop their ocean economies
›     How the application of MSDI services can support disaster resilience, the blue economy and Government infrastructure
›     How UKHO approached the task of building the portal for Anguilla and others
›     Explanation and examples of how UKHO MSDI Professional Service scan help Overseas Territories and small island developing nations stimulate their blue economies


Marine geospatial data and its role in supporting sustainable development

Claire Jolly Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)  

Join this discussion, led by the OECD, on the critical role marine geospatial data can play in building sustainable and resilient marine economies.

Our oceans play a key role in our day to day lives. They regulate our climate, provide the air we breathe and give us the food we eat. But these oceans are under threat, with pollution, acidification and rising temperatures threatening to cause irreversible damage to marine habitats.  

It’s clear we need to use our oceans in more sustainable ways. But to do this, we need to build a greater understanding of our marine environment.  

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have played a key role in developing this understanding, creating a series of pioneering reports that provide evidence-based information to improve research and innovation for sustainable ocean management. These reports, including ‘Rethinking Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean Economy’ and ‘The Ocean Economy in 2030’, have played a pivotal role in the creation of policy and initiatives that will reshape our relationship with our oceans.

Claire Jolly - Head of the STI Ocean Economy Group - will discuss the OECD’s latest research into the value of marine data and the critical role it can play in building sustainable and resilient marine economies. This will include discussion on:

›    The importance of recognising that geospatial data has different types of value (from scientific to economic value) and why we should continue long-term collection efforts
›    Insights from recent studies on how mapping value chains from data users’ perspectives can provide new evidence on the benefits of marine data
›    And finally, how the collection and uses of marine data can contribute to and benefit from Official Development Assistance (ODA) programmes, as can be shown by new OECD statistics on ODA and marine economies.


How can we work together to increase the availability of marine geospatial data that supports a sustainable Blue Economy?

Sam Harper UK Hydrographic Office

This presentation explores how, through collaboration, the world’s marine geospatial community can work together to increase the availability of marine geospatial data.

Almost all activity in our oceans, from shipping to monitoring delicate marine environments, depend on accurate seabed mapping data that illustrates the shape and movement of natural underwater features. So, for many developing coastal nations, the collection of this data is vital to supporting sustainable economic growth and protecting their communities from the effects of climate change.

As we prepare to enter the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, bringing together this data and building new partnerships to make the most of it has never been more important.

Sam Harper, Head of Hydrographic Programmes, will discuss how the UKHO is working with partners to increase the availability of marine geospatial data and how further collaboration can support a sustainable blue economy.  This will include:

›    A discussion on the current lack of adequate marine data and the effect this can have on coastal communities
›    The need for the ocean science, marine geospatial and international development communities to work together to gather data that supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
›    Examples of where collaboration has helped developing nations build sustainable marine economies


How is the future of navigation being redefined by shipping’s digital and data transformation?

Rear Admiral Rhett Hatcher UK Hydrographic Office | Peter Broadhurst Inmarsat Maritime | Richard Doherty CIRM | Tom Mellor UK Hydrographic Office | Rakesh Pandit MCA | Captain Sanchay Srivastava, OCIMF  

Join our panel of experts across shipping, regulations and manufacturers in exploring how the future of navigation is being redefined by shipping’s digital transformation.

With ever-busier oceans and shipping channels, combined with exciting developments in autonomy, connectivity and digitisation, the maritime landscape as we know it is changing. But what does this mean for the future of navigation? And what challenges and opportunities does it present?

As we welcome the next chapter of digital navigation, we are continuing to collaborate to help meet the changing needs of mariners across the globe. The IHO’s S-100 framework will also play a fundamental role in transforming the way blue data is shared and used for making decisions when navigating at sea.

In this panel discussion, experts from shipping, regulations and manufacturers answer important questions in this fast-moving space. Including:

›    What will passage planning and navigation look like in 2030?
›    How are international standards evolving to meet the needs of hydrographic, maritime and GIS users?
›    How do we enable the technological and navigational advances shipping needs to unlock new opportunities and advance efficiencies?
›    In ever-busier oceans, how can we use digital technologies to help all ocean activities to safely co-exist?


Autonomous navigation: Will unmanned commercial vessels become a reality?

Alisdair Pettigrew BLUE Communications | Mark Casey UK Hydrographic Office | Dan Hook Ocean Infinity | Katrina Kemp MCA  

Find out how blue data could support the development of unmanned commercial vessels of the future in a discussion led by experts across the autonomous navigation sector.

Navigation has made significant advances over the last few decades. Shipping now stands on the cusp of the next step in its digital journey.   

Now, the possibility of partially or fully autonomous ships promises to be nothing short of transformative for the maritime industry. By 2030, we estimate the global autonomous shipping sector to be worth a staggering £111 billion and employ over 554,000 people. 

Central to the development of such vessels is blue data, to support safe and efficient navigation for the autonomous vessels of tomorrow.     

Alisdair Pettigrew, Dan Hook, Katrina Kemp and Mark Casey will discuss how marine data can support the development of unmanned commercial vessels. Including: 

›    What key benefits can autonomous vessels bring to shipping and the wider blue economy? 
›    What innovations could enable this change 
›    Why can’t autonomous vessels travel use existing navigational products? 
›    What data can support the safe and efficient navigation of autonomous vessels?  
›    How could we make this data more interoperable for autonomous vessels?
›    How will autonomous ships sit within the regulatory framework? 


What’s coming next?

Cathrine Armour UK Hydrographic Office

The UKHO’s Chief Customer Officer, Cathrine Armour, will bring the conference to a close with final thoughts on what the future holds for the UKHO and the wider marine community, as we enter the UN’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Virtual event
Blue Data Conference 2021