Marine Institute funded Technology Projects at Dublin City University

PhD student Edel O'Connor of the NCSR with Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute at the event.A range of pioneering technology research underway in Dublin City University was outlined recently at the "NCSR Innovates" event. 

The event was organised by the National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR) as part of ‘Innovation Dublin 2010’.  Progress on innovative approaches to the use of images from cameras and satellites to complement conventional chemical and biological sensing of the marine environment was described.  Visual images are being used in the development of multimodal sensor networks which harvest data from a range of different sources in order to better monitor the marine environment. This new methodology is being developed as part of a larger DCU project, the Beaufort Marine Research Award in Marine Sensors and Communications.  The award is funded under the Marine Research Sub-Programme of the National Development Plan under Sea Change (Ireland’s Marine Knowledge, Research & Innovation Strategy 2007-2013), which is being implemented by the Marine Institute.

Visiting the event, Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute said, “Our ability to detect and monitor pollution incidents and to understand the ocean processes that influence dynamic events such toxic plankton blooms is directly related to our ability to collect comprehensive and accurate data. New methods and technologies such as those under development in DCU’s Marine and Environmental Sensing Technology Hub (MESTECH) in association with the CLARITY research centre, will ultimately be used to vastly improve our ability to retrieve physical and environmental information from coastal locations in real-time.  Developing Ireland’s capacity in these enabling technologies will also catalyse the development of new commercial opportunities for the deployment of remote marine sensing and data processing tools across a number of marine related sectors.”

Dr. Peter Heffernan (left) presents DCU President Prof. Brian McGraith with a copy of "The Real Map of Ireland" showing a three-dimensional view of our country's undersea territory.

Prof. McGraith and Dr Peter Heffernan

Testing of a selection of these next generation technologies is already underway in SmartBay, a National Research and Testbed Facility located in Galway Bay.  SmartBay provides a real world marine environment where technology developers in industry and the third level sector can develop and test their new technology platforms.  Current users of the infrastructure include a range of Multi-Nationals and Indigenous Irish companies from Ireland’s emerging Hi-Tech Marine Products and Services or ‘SmartOcean’ sector. 

The use of pictures from on-site cameras or satellite imaging, to identify possible pollution incidents or natural marine phenomena in real time, allows for a more efficient, cost effective and sustainable monitoring network.  Following visual detection of pollution events, conventional in situ analytical equipment could be powered up to accurately monitor what is happening in real time. Camera systems and image processing software have already been field tested on the River Lee in Cork and in Galway Bay and have proved very effective as a supplement to existing environmental sensor systems.

Prof. Alan Smeaton, a Principle Investigator with MESTECH and the CLARITY Research Centre who is leading this research area said, “This project is an example of how we can make great strides by combining scientific and technological expertise from different disciplines towards a common goal. In this case we have computing science, remote sensing and environmental science all working together to enable the development of decision-based management tools for the marine environment.”

Other innovative marine technologies being developed by DCU under the Beaufort programme include: the development of effective methods to prevent biofouling (the growth of encrusting animals and plants) on in-situ aquatic sensor devices; a method for rapidly identifying the various different organisms within a harmful algal bloom; and the use of biotechnology to recognise specific contaminants in the marine ecosystem.


For further information, please contact:

Dr John Joyce – Communications Manager, Marine Institute Ph: 087 2250871  


DCU’s Marine Environment and Sensing Technology Hub (MESTECH) is multidisciplinary in nature with principal investigators from the School of Chemistry, Physics, Biotechnology, Engineering and Computing.  The project overall is facilitated by the NCSR and supported by the NCSR admin team and funded by the Beaufort Sensing and Communication Award.

CLARITY is a research centre  that focuses on the intersection between Adaptive Sensing and Information Discovery.  CLARITY is a Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) and is a partnership between University College Dublin, Dublin City University and Tyndall National Institute.

The Marine Institute is the state agency responsible for marine research, development and innovation in Ireland.  The Marine Institute, headquartered in Oranmore, Co Galway provides a range of services to government, industry, the third level sector and the public.

The Institute provides policy and scientific advice on all aspects of the marine resource, undertakes research, stimulates development, and administers the national competitive research programme linked to the implementation of Sea Change - the National Marine Research, Knowledge and Innovation Strategy 2007-2013.

The Institute also operates the National Research Vessels and provides data and information services to support industry development and underpin the work of a range of government departments, state agencies and local authorities.  

Sea Change – A Marine Knowledge and Information Strategy 2007 – 2013 seeks to strengthen the competitiveness and environmental sustainability of the marine sector by developing greater alignment between the needs of industry and the research capacity of the public sector and the third level. The Strategy aims to build multidisciplinary research capacity and capability that can be applied to marine-related activities, leading to the acquisition of new technical skills, improved flow of expert personnel between the research community and industry and the creation of new commercial opportunities. Sea Change also delivers a comprehensive planned policy support research measure to apply the knowledge gained from research and monitoring to inform public policy, governance and regulation.  

The INNOVATION DUBLIN 2010 Festival takes place from 10th – 21st November to showcase and promote innovation and creativity in Dublin.  The festival promotes the importance of innovation and creativity among young people, our SME sector and the public sector, to increase awareness of how innovation will drive our future growth and help us respond more effectively to future challenges. The festival celebrates the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Dublin.   The majority of the events are free and open to the public, though advance booking is required in some cases.

The full programme of events is available on or you can  download the free INNOVATION DUBLIN iPhone app to browse all festival events from your iPhone/iPad/iTouch.  To access go to

INNOVATION DUBLIN is an initiative of the Creative Dublin Alliance.