A day in the life of Bruce Howe, chair of JTF, professor of ocean and resources engineering, University of Hawaii in Manoa
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 OceanObs19.
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.”