Georgios Sylaios, coordinator of the EU-funded ODYSSEA project and professor at the Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH), was interviewed by Nikos Spitseris of Greece’s Center TV Pre-News program, to discuss the project as cold front weather system “Oceanis”, building up in Siberia, settled over Greece during the last week of February 2019, bringing with it heavy rains and snowfall, strong winds and big waves in North Aegean and Thracian Sea.
“Using the meteorological forecast, we will able to predict the direction and the height of the waves – up to 4 meters near Athos and around 1.5 meters at Alexandroupolis Gulf,” Sylaios said, noting that “wave energy is expected to have a more lasting impact, as well, reinforcing coastal erosion.”
Sylaios explained that the ODYSSEA Project is collecting data from all available sources in order to make them easily accessible and truly useful to the common user, and particularly to people working at sea.
“Consequently, our primary target groups in the region include (a) fishers, (b) aquaculture and mussel culture industries, (c) port management bodies, (d) maritime transport enterprises, (e) merchant marine and (f) off-shore drilling installations, all of whom can benefit from the services gradually developing in ODYSSEA,” he told Spitseris.
Though the full ODYSSEA platform will go public later this month, ODYSSEA Greece launched its Facebook page in July 2017 in order to familiarise the target groups mentioned – and the general public – with the maps, as well as with visual representation of waves, currents, and other marine phenomena, and has been steadily expanding its Facebook page since then to cover almost the whole of Greece.
Today, the page has followers from the Ionian Sea region, Crete, the South Aegean, and other parts of the country, showing that it is providing information that is in demand among the public and those working at sea, Sylaios said. There is a strong demand for marine data from investors in aquaculture sector aiding siting decision.
Sylaios demonstrated the platform’s use and called attention to one of ODYSSEA’s key innovations in making information quickly and easily accessible to a wide range of people: diagrams depicting air and sea surface temperatures in the Kavala port area, with text automatically generated on the basis of algorithms developed by Sylaios’ DUTH team, allowing the platform to produce easily intelligible information in real time as required, without round-the-clock human intervention.
“Do such automated systems threaten jobs?”, Spiteris asked.
“Not at all,” Sylaios answered. “On the contrary, the ultimate objective is Blue Growth and the creation of new jobs. ODYSSEA is the first and the only one providing this information to the multitude of end-users.”
In terms of economic benefits, Sylaios cited the example of mussel growers in the Chalastra area in northern Greece’s Central Macedonia Region, who were able to save their production from a sudden temperature rise in the seawater during the summer of 2017 thanks to information received from ODYSSEA. He noted that diving crews also regularly send in data they collect in order to improve the ODYSSEA Facebook page’s reliability.
Sylaios noted that ODYSSEA is active across the Mediterranean basin, and similar Facebook pages have been developed focusing on the other regions in the local languages. In the same vein, the ODYSSEA platform will be made available in most languages spoken across the Mediterranean in order to harness accessibility and usability.
Spitseris commented on the impact ODYSSEA will clearly have on the incomes and lives of both professionals and amateurs active at sea, and invited Sylaios for a follow-up interview once the ODYSSEA platform is up and running.