Types of Data
What is on the MDE
Developed in 2013 as the first of its kind, the Marine Data Exchange (MDE) manages offshore survey data collected by our customers throughout the lifetime of an offshore project, from feasibility studies through to decommissioning.
The below information is pulled together every quarter and was last updated in July 2021.
Which offshore industries can you find data from?
The MDE holds data from a variety of industries but is predominantly from the growing offshore wind industry. In 2013, The Crown Estate started the MDE alongside our offshore wind customers; to help to de-risk investment, reduce survey costs and promote collaboration within a relatively new industry to the UK seabed.
Data from the wave and tidal sector is growing on the MDE and we continue to work with our customers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as this industry matures.
Likewise, from some of the newest industries to some of the industries that have been here for longer, you can also explore the MDE for data from the Marine Aggregates industry.
Themes and Phases
Throughout the years, the MDE data holding has developed significantly to having almost 200TB of survey data from over 50 offshore projects across England, Wales and Northern Ireland; over 2,000 survey campaigns and covering over 15 survey themes, from geophysical data to marine mammal surveys.
Offshore industries, such as offshore wind, carry out numerous surveys across the lifetime of the project from pre-construction through to decommissioning, and so you’ll find multiple surveys from one theme for every project. For example, a developer may carry out 2 years’ worth of baseline bird surveys prior to construction and then carry out annual and seasonal surveys thereafter to monitor the effect of the project on seabirds. This generates a great evidence base to not only understand the marine environment in previously un-surveyed areas, but to also monitor change over time.
The majority of surveys on the MDE are from geophysical and bird surveys, but there are a range of surveys covering social, physical and environmental themes. For the offshore renewable industries, we also categorise the data into development phases. By the very nature that more developments are in, or have been through, the pre-construction phase, this represents the largest proportion of data on the MDE. However, this is a significant amount of post-construction monitoring data and an increasing amount of research data carried out to support the sustainable development of the seabed.
"200 TB of survey data from over 50 offshore projects across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Who is downloading the data
The information presented here is based upon metrics that we recorded in the old MDE system. For those that don’t know what the ‘old’ MDE was like; any downloads required an email to be provided that the system then sent the data to. From this we captured information from the domain name (the bit after the @) and assigned that to a type of user. The majority of downloads from the MDE are usually by offshore developers and their consultants, and academics. However the number of downloads across all user groups has been growing over the years and this is a growth that we’d like to continue .
Moving forward, we no longer ask for an email address when downloading data from the MDE; you simply click to download and there it is. That’s one less barrier to accessing data. However, it’s still important that we can demonstrate the value that the MDE is having and so we’ll start to measure new metrics, such as what types of data are most people downloading, and consider how we can trace the data through the introduction of DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers).
"14, 645 downloads in 2020, with almost 50% coming from offshore consultants
"Creating the MDE in 2013 provides a platform to share data and to unlock value
Research on the MDE
The below are some of the research projects that The Crown Estate have commissioned or been involved with. Research projects are critical in identifying and addressing evidence gaps.
What standards do we apply to the data?
The Crown Estate work closely with offshore developers and operators to ensure that survey data held on the MDE meets the MEDIN Data standards and can be shared with the public as soon as it is reasonable to do so.
Whilst the MDE seeks to promote the re-use of survey data to inform evidence based decisions, it also strives to make it simple for offshore industries to provide survey data without processes and data requirements becoming overly onerous. Over the years The Crown Estate have worked with our offshore customers to define and to develop the right balance in terms of data requirements and the adoption of data management standards. This includes ensuring that the data held on the MDE meets the MEDIN Data Guideline standards and is defined by the MEDIN Metadata Discovery Standard; ensuring the discoverability and reusability of the data.
The management duties of the Scottish seabed, are the responsibility of a separate organisation, Crown Estate Scotland.
The MDE holds publicly available data up until April 2017, when Crown Estate Scotland was established. No data from Scottish projects has been delivered to, or published on, the MDE since April 2017.