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For the first time, a smart buoy with an oil sensor is delivering data via satellite in open sea conditions in the Baltic Sea

Press release 2018-11-09 at 10:15
Yellow Smart Buoy located south of Helsinki 2018
The yellow Smart Buoy is located south of Helsinki, but quite far out, facing the open sea, close to the main fairway to the south. © Photo: Joose Mykkänen

In October a smart navigation buoy system started to deliver real-time measurement data via satellite, monitoring oil and some other water quality parameters in the Baltic Sea’s water. It is located south of Helsinki in the Gulf of Finland. The monitoring data gives later great advantages to the oil spill response actions of authorities and it eases revealing illegal oil discharges. The system is part of SYKE’s GRACE project cooperation and it is made by Meritaito Ltd. The data is freely available on the Internet.

The test data of the smart navigation buoy system is also freely available at
www.luodedata.fi (user name: grace; password: oil).

Getting better monitoring data and an early warning system for oil pollution

The real-time remote measurement is a big advance in oil detection and environmental monitoring. It is significantly quicker as it has satellite data transfer and can provide more accurate data compared to the old systems. A network of oil-detecting smart buoys could easily be used to form an early warning system for oil pollution. The sooner an oil spill response is started, the better the results.

Modern technology designed for ice-covered areas

The Meritaito (SeaHow) Smart Buoy concept is a combination of a polyethylene navigation buoy and modern sensor technology with wireless real-time data delivery. The concept has been tested and found to be reliable with other sensors for different qualities. This time the test will give information on the durability and reliability of the oil monitoring sensors.

SeaHow navigation buoys are designed for ice-covered areas and therefore high sea is not a problem for the buoy itself. The first oil-detecting Smart Buoy was deployed in 2016 near the Neste Refinery at Porvoo, in the Gulf of Finland. In that set-up the data was delivered by a GSM network instead of by satellite data transfer.

On-line data helps to fight oil spills and to assess the state of the marine environment

The on-line oil monitoring data can e.g. later be linked directly to the awareness system of the oil spill response authorities. Buoys placed along fairways that monitor 24/7 could also reveal and confirm illegal oil discharges. Furthermore the results can be used by e.g. ports that are requested to survey an area in which they are active. The monitoring data is also valuable for the environmental authorities responsible for assessing the environmental status of the marine environment.

The GRACE project is behind the development of the Smart Buoy

The Smart Buoy technology for the monitoring of oil is being developed within the EU Horizon 2020-funded project GRACE, coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE. The Finnish company Meritaito Ltd (SeaHow) and their subcontractor, Luode Consulting Oy, are responsible for the Smart Buoy development work.

The GRACE project – concerning integrated oil spill response actions and their environmental effects – started in the spring of 2016 and focuses on developing, comparing and evaluating the effectiveness and environmental effects of different oil spill response methods in a cold climate. Furthermore the project is developing real-time observation of underwater oil spills and a strategic tool for choosing oil response methods. Read more at the

Photo for media

More information

Kirsten Jørgensen, GRACE project coordinator, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, tel. +358 295 251 245, firstname.surname@ymparisto.fi [kirsten.jorgensen]

Seppo Virtanen, SeaHow by Meritaito, tel. +358 408232122, firstname.surname@meritaito.fi [seppo.virtanen]


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