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The Year Ahead: Driving Industries Forward with Smart Data in 2019

Over the past year we’ve seen digital technologies continue to play a huge role in revolutionising different industrial sectors. In industries such as oil and gas, transport and renewable energy projects, there have been big productivity improvements through the application of everything from artificial intelligence and machine learning to big data analysis and fibre optics.

Looking to the year ahead, digital technologies are going to continue to be the primary driver of change in operations in a variety of sectors. For example, in the oil and gas industry, efficiency, maintenance and security are set be the top priorities for operators.

With a forecasted increase in the global production of natural oil and gas and pipeline installations, we expect to see a high demand among operators for data driven platforms that provide them with a more comprehensive real-time view of the state of their assets. In particular we expect to see a strong growth in investment in leak detection technology in 2019, alongside continued growth in the security focused deployments that have been the primary use of DAS to date.

Another area that is expected to experience further growth this year is the smart cities market. Based on a recent report by the International Data Corporation (IDC), investment in smart city applications is predicted to reach $135 billion by 2021. Following on from our world-first trial alongside the City of Calgary and Pacific Western Transport, there’ll be more trialling of the capabilities of distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) platforms in a variety of smart city infrastructure projects, including maintenance, transport and security initiatives.

While innovation in the pipeline industry and smart city applications will continue to gather pace in 2019, they won’t be the only infrastructure markets subject to change. For the offshore cables market, specifically in relation to offshore wind projects, this year could prove crucial with offshore wind capacity expected to significantly expand in capacity over the next decade.

The industry is facing a number of challenges, among them the implementation of new technologies and a shifting financial landscape as subsides become scarce. The key to overcoming these challenges will be adopting technologies that ensure the viability of existing installations and maximise efficiency when expanding capacity. For instance, targeted and pre-emptive maintenance of offshore cables that bring the power generated back to land is an increasingly important strategic priority for the industry.

These offshore cables are required to endure harsh marine conditions that stretch over long distances. Unlike onshore cabling, these routes are much more difficult to access and locating a fault can be extremely challenging for operators. As such we expect to see an increase in the adoption of smart monitoring platforms, such as those harnessing DAS, especially in dealing with threats to the integrity of subsea power cables.

At Fotech, 2018 proved to be a big year in which we tested, trialled and applied cutting edge DAS technologies to problems facing some of the world’s biggest industries. In 2019, we will continue to drive innovation and change by addressing the key issues and challenges industries face when it comes to monitoring and securing infrastructure and assets.