European Commission

European Commission


1. Information about the procurement

ICT Solution: Digital Elevation Models (DEMs)

Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) are used in a wide range of applications (nautical charts, dredging operations, morphological analysis, habitat maps and numerical modelling). In coastal areas, where land and water meet, the elevation of the earth’s surface cannot be measured with one single technique. The depth of the seafloor is measured using echo-sounding from a waterborne platform. In Flanders, 5-6 vessels need to sail out to fulfill the demand on seafloor elevation. The height on land is acquired using airborne laser-scanning. These surveys are executed on average once a year in Flanders. Merging of data from both sources is needed to produce seamless Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) in coastal and estuarine areas.

The current practice has some limitations. Survey areas are limited by what is feasible within a single survey day. Consequently, large areas need multiple survey days (up to weeks) with eventually multiple survey vessels and certain areas have a low revisit frequency (up to multiple years). It is clear that data acquisition and processing are costly and labour intensive. Even more efforts are needed to adequately cover the intertidal part of coastal areas. Bathymetric surveys need to be scheduled at high water, resulting in slower acquisition rates. Laser-scanning surveys need optimal weather conditions and need to be scheduled at low water. Combining both survey results into a single map covering the area of interest is complex and adds to the costs of data acquisition.

Technological developments in different areas (space- and airborne techniques, novel acquisition platforms and advancements in signal processing) are expected, but may only deliver partial solutions or require R&D investments on the long term. A solution in which remote sensing data is linked with existing laser-scanning and echo-sounding surveys and to advanced modelling techniques seems promising.

Thus, the goal is to design and develop an innovative technique to produce a DEM/DTM of entire coastal areas integrating (existing) multi-sensor data and making use of advanced signal processing methods. This is an ambitious goal aiming at a breakthrough innovation. It will be necessary to reinvent the survey strategy and to develop novel processing techniques.

Key technologies:

  • Remote sensing data linked with existing laser-scanning and echo-sounding surveys and advanced modelling techniques.
  • Content technologies and information management (e.g. big data handling, content handling and modelling, automatic learning)
Ongoing PCP. Prototype of the toolbox for drawing up digital elevation models developed. Results of first and second phase positively evaluated. Third phase of the project in preparation. Goal third phase: to demonstrate the usability of the developed toolbox in practice.

Type of innovation procurement: Pre-Commercial Procurement – PCP

Timeframe: Jan 2017 – Dec 2022

Budget invested by the procurer: € 2.000.000,-

More information:

Flanders – Hydrographic surveying: LINK 
Digital Elevation Model of Costal Areas (DEMCA): LINK 
Additional information: LINK

Open market consultation: 
Flanders – Market Consultation document: LINK 
EU Survey – PCP Hydrography: LINK   

Call for tender:
e-Notification – Afdeling Maritieme Toegang: LINK 
TED Europe – Belgium-Brussel: LINK 
Oceanografische en hydrologische diensten: LINK 
Prior Information Notice (PIN): LINK 
Information session 02/07/2018 : TED Europa (Dutch version): LINK
Contract notice: TED Europa (Aankondiging van een opdracht – Openbare procedure): LINK 
Rectifications: TED Europa (Aanvullende inlichtingen – Openbare procedure): LINK 

2. Type of assistance provided by eafip

To the specific tender:
procurement strategy, stakeholder approach, preparation of market consultation, business case improvement, support in the development of tender documents and contract clauses.

To the general procurement of the organisation:
best practices for innovation procurement.

Ongoing PCP.  In phase 2 of the project, dotOcean developed a prototype of the toolbox for drawing up digital elevation models. The second phase ran until January 2022. The results of the first and second phase were positively evaluated. The third phase of the project is in preparation. In this phase the intention is to demonstrate the usability of the developed toolbox in practice.

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