Photo By David Stoehr

NUWC Division Newport may assist with digital footprint of Narragansett Bay as part of state initiative

A new Rhode Island initiative, part of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge, and the blue economy was the focus of a briefing held at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport on Feb. 14.

Erik Brine, director of the Defense Sector Research and Development (R&D) Initiatives and Operations at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Research Foundation and URI Ventures, shared details about Rhode Island’s blue economy which addresses the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihood and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health. The blue economy spans seven sub-industries: defense, marine trades, fisheries, offshore renewable energy, ports and shipping, tourism and recreation, and aquaculture.

Narragansett Bay, in particular, offers an opportunity to set up data-collecting infrastructure that will benefit all seven industries, Brine said. Division Newport would benefit from the environmental and acoustic data collected through what’s known as the Smart Bay initiative and the creation of a digital environment for modeling and simulation, Brine said.

Smart Bay, would make Narragansett Bay “transparent” through data streams from underwater communications, underwater GPS, high-resolution bathymetry and sonar imaging, distributed temperature and environmental sensing, underwater video and localization devices. The data from all these sources can be collected at various “Smart Bay hubs” and made accessible to industry, academia and government.

“How do we make a large platform modular, extensible, and flexible?” asked Brine. “All organizations will be pulling data out of the Bay in various ways. Let’s have a platform to aggregate the data. Right now, the [R.I.] Department of Environmental Management, NUWC and others are all collecting data from the Bay separately. This is an opportunity to democratize access to the Narragansett Bay, make testing more accessible, pull data together to develop a digital twin of the Bay. NUWC can’t be a partner, but the Navy is an important teammate.”

Rhode Island’s Smart Bay efforts may include:

R&D, prototyping, and testing platform for blue technology
Leveraging the unique geography of the Narragansett Bay
Collaboration of an unmatched institutional ecosystem
A regulatory environment designed to support blue technology RDT&E
Legacy investments in sensors and infrastructure
Addition of new terrestrial and maritime fixed sensors
Density of sensors dependent upon location
Deployable and re-deployable mobile assets
Data format standardization
Managed data architecture, analysis and visualization for use across sectors
According to Brine, the idea is to collect higher fidelity information and more specific information about the Bay, connect resources using a secure distributed integration network, and compute using universities’ high-performance computing centers.

Brine is working with Dr. Steve Bordonaro, director of the Northeast Tech Bridge and Dr. Vic Ricci, NUWC’s chief technology officer, to learn how Division Newport could use the proposed infrastructure in Narragansett Bay.

Ricci also attended the Blue Innovation Symposium on Feb. 22 to discuss the acceleration of the blue economy through innovation. Read more about it at:

NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.



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