26 June 2018
Though he admits that proof of concept is the biggest hurdle they need to overcome in order to build confidence from the subsea cable industry. “It’s really about getting a demonstrable pilot out there in the water to show that it can work,” he explains.
Based on the beautiful island of
Hawaii, Bruce Howe, chair of the Joint Task Force (JTF) and
professor of ocean and resources engineering at University of
Hawaii in Manoa, laughs when I ask how he switches off and
relaxes after all of his voluntary work.
"The typical thing is that I get up and go for an hour-long
walk or hike. I live in Hawaii so it’s the perfect
place to do that."
The work of the JTF is a noble one. Formed in 2012 by the
International Telecommunication Union , the Intergovernmental
Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organisation, and the World
Meteorological Organisation, the organisation is tasked with
developing what they call SMART cables and the availability of
submarine repeaters equipped with scientific sensors for ocean
and climate monitoring and disaster risk reduction for things
such as tsunamis.
But for Howe, the JTF is one of a handful of projects that
he’s involved and he admits "I’m
still learning time management."
In addition to his JTF work Howe says: "I also run a small
cable ocean observatory off Oahu in Hawaii which
I’ve been operating for seven years –
it’s the deepest on the planet." As well as an
acoustic propagation project and, helping with a major
oceanography conference taking place in September 2019, called
While the work of the JTF seems like a no brainer from an
outsiders perspective, Howe says there still exits a number of
challenges in getting support for their work.
"The biggest challenge we face is getting acceptance from
other stakeholders. These are the telecoms industry and
governments to some extent."
Though he admits that proof of concept is the biggest hurdle
they need to overcome in order to build confidence from the
subsea cable industry. "It’s really about getting
a demonstrable pilot out there in the water to show that it can
work," he explains. "And of course proving the commercial case
for what we’re doing."
But all is not lost, for the work of the JTF is gaining
traction and Howe shares a major development that has occurred
over the last six months. "The Asian Development Bank has
agreed to fund in incremental amounts, the cost of smart
capability on systems that fall within their purview."