Port of London Authority Tidal Monitoring System - POLATIDE 5: High Level - Case Study

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Courtesy of Valeport Ltd

Background:

Valeport recently worked with marine data specialists, Oceanwise, to design and deliver a complete tidal monitoring system for the Port of London Authority (POLA), please read on to find out more about the system referred to as ‘POLATIDE 5’.

Introduction:

Valeport and OceanWise have recently designed and delivered a complete tidal monitoring system, comprising tide gauges, telemetry equipment, servers, databases, system control, data management and display software to the Port of London Authority (POLA). The system covers an area stretching from Tower Bridge in the City of London to the Thames Estuary. POLA’s requirement was to replace an existing system that had been operational since 1990. This case study describes the system – colloquially known as ‘POLATIDE 5’ – and illustrates how OceanWise and Valeport have collaborated with POLA to create a technical solution that is robust, reliable and meets POLA’s demanding specifications. The system was installed in late 2013 and rigorous testing was completed in Spring 2014.

Design:

The POLATIDE 5 system includes eight monitoring stations, four base stations and a data feed from fourteen existing tide gauges operated by England’s Environment Agency, and the Port of London themselves. 

OceanWise acted as system designer and integrator and provided all the system control, data management and web based user display and administration software. 

Valeport assisted with the system design and provided the monitoring equipment, battery changers and waterproof enclosures.

Hardware:

Valeport TideMasters are the central point of each tidal monitoring outstation with pressure sensors and radar used as water level sensors. Output from the TideMaster provides data input to the dual telemetry system, which comprises a UHF radio modem and a serial to Ethernet/GSM transceiver. The dual system provides back-up data telemetry allowing the TideMaster to be interrogated and controlled remotely.

UHF data transmission is via modems installed at four base stations in the Thames Estuary co-housed with the POLA radar stations and connected to the POLA local area network (LAN) which is used to send data to the POLATIDE 5 data servers installed at Gravesend and Thames Barrier. 

A secondary telemetry system transmits via GSM/GPRS on a Mobile to Mobile Virtual Private Network (M2M VPN) set up for the purpose. Data is sent from the M2M VPN to the POLATIDE data servers via the POLA Internet gateway and firewall.

Software:

The data loading, management and display components are installed on each of the POLATIDE data servers using OceanWise’s commercial off the shelf software products, Ocean Database and Port-Log.

Ocean Database (ODB) is a complete data management solution that loads and stores many standard types of simple and complex marine and environmental monitoring data. Associated parameters used in quality control and metadata creation are included, facilitating onward data exchange and use. The 

ODB is accessed through a variety of general and specialist software applications including GIS, Microsoft Excel and MATLAB, as well as the Port-Log web pages. 

Full administration of users, stations, including automatically adding new stations and sensors, quality assurance parameters, tidal predictions and surge, and full synchronisation of all data and other parameters between the two databases is included.

Deliverables:

Port-Log software provides various views on the system and scientific data depending on the level of user and can be amended as required.

A map interface is included which shows the status of the overall system, and each outstation, sensor and telemetry units and provides an access point to the actual data. The map interface is able to handle different
base maps and additional data overlays, either stored locally within ODB or from an external web server, which includes the OceanWise unique ENC Web Map Service (image right). 

Alerts and triggers are generated according to editable parameters and thresholds e.g. battery levels, door locks, data transmission rates, water levels and QA failures. 

Overall, Port-Log provides total control, administration and comprehensive visualisation of system performance and scientific data, as well as access to more advanced functionality and connectivity to external systems and web sites.

As a result of the success of this installation OceanWise, in collaboration with Valeport, are now engaged in similar projects in the UK, Middle East and South America.

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