Field lab in the North Sea

Text: Jurjen Slump
Photography: Klaas Wiersma

A field lab (‘Proeftuin op de Noordzee’) is being constructed off the coast of Scheveningen. This field lab (covering an area of 10x10 nautical miles) will be equipped with an extensive data infrastructure. Here, the maritime sector will be able to test its new products and applications in practice. Think of, for example, a tracking system for kite surfers or a system for providing real-time information during sailing competitions.

This field lab is an initiative of TU Delft, KPN, TNO, the Sailing Innovation Centre, the Royal Netherlands Watersports Association (Watersportverbond), Svašek Hydraulics and the Municipality of The Hague. These parties will receive a 1.7 million Euro grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and also contribute their own funds to the lab. This creates a total funding of 4.3 million Euros.

The field lab consists of a network of smart buoys fitted with a whole range of measuring equipment, and a network to send the collected data to the shore. Companies (start-ups, SMEs as well as the manufacturing industry) that want to test any application are welcome to use this infrastructure.

The various partners contribute to the project based on their specific expertise. For example, KPN will install the data network and TU Delft will focus on the scientific data science research to be carried out at sea. Svašek Hydraulics is an engineering firm that develops flow models. They will use the field lab to expand and optimise their flow models.

The project also focuses on the development of the port of the future, where big data will play an ever greater role and the port office will increasingly take on the function of a control room.

To encourage the involvement of SMEs, a separate SME scheme has been set up for entrepreneurs. Under this scheme, SMEs are eligible to receive a 25 thousand Euro grant for concrete projects. The Sailing Innovation Centre will act as a ‘counter’ for the entire programme, where demand and supply meet.