Situation awareness system for environmental emergency response (BORIS 2)

Steering group: Kalervo Jolma (SYKE), Magnus Nyström (Ministry of the Environment), Rami Ruuska (The Ministry of the Interior Department for Rescue Services), Ilpo Tolonen (Regional rescue services of Kymenlaakso), Jyrki Ahonen and Olli Soininen (Navy Headquarters), Tom Lundell (Headquarters of the Finnish Border Guard), Rolf Nyström (Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment) and Yrjö Sucksdorff (SYKE)

Oil response activities at sea

Project background

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have already for several years had a major role in environmental emergency response. Based on map information the combating of oil spills can be targeted so that majority of the spill is taken care of at the source and that the critical environmentally sensitive sites can be protected as fast as possible, avoiding the most expensive and most harmful damages.

Since 2006 all of the national oil spill response authorities have been able to use BORIS (Baltic Oil Response Information System), a GIS for oil spill response hosted by SYKE. However, BORIS has not been able to fully respond to the needs of the users outside the Finnish environmental administration. Also, the technologies for implementing internet map services have developed greatly in the recent years, making the technology behind BORIS obsolete. Based on these factors it became necessary to renew BORIS. In 2009 SYKE decided to launch a project BORIS2 to upgrade the system BORIS to a new situation awareness system BORIS 2.0.

Project objectives and the features of the system

The purpose of the project BORIS2 has been to produce an Internet-based GIS named BORIS 2.0 for the Finnish oil spill response authorities which supports preparedness planning for oil spills, cost-effective and well targeted spill response, information services during operations as well as archiving the data relevant for compensation negotiations.

The new system will enable the Response Commander the oil spill operation to view the different datasets necessary for response planning in single map view: the locations of the resources, high priority protected targets, traffic networks, harbors etc. Satellite and aerial surveillance imagery can be loaded into the view to estimate the extent of the spill. The system is connected to real time weather datasets and predictions and it enables the user to calculate a forecast of the oil drifting. Shore reconnaissance units can report their observations in to the system. Based on all of these different datasets the leading authority can plan the operations in the map view and distribute the plans to through the system to all of the users or print them out on paper.

As the response operation progresses, new information and new plans are continuously fed into the system, providing the users with an up-to-date view of the current situation. This view can be utilized by the leaders of the operations as well as other involved parties.

In addition to actual response operations, the system will also support other duties related to oil spill response. It can be used in assessing and further enhancing the preparedness for spill response, in oil spill response training and in justifying the compensations. The system will function as an archive from which the information concerning a certain case can easily be retrieved at a later point in time.


All of the intended end users of the system have been involved in the project from the very beginning. The objective has been to ensure that the new system corresponds to the requirements of the users. These requirements are mapped in user workshops. The aim is also to provide the users with several early, successive demo versions of the system, enabling the users to give their feedback at a time when changes to the system are still possible within the project schedule.

Cooperation in the project extends further than the above described user involvement. Providing a real time maritime traffic image is a surveillance cooperation of the Finnish Transport Agency (previously Finnish Maritime Administration), The Finnish Border Guard and the Finnish Defence Forces. The aim is to provide the maritime traffic image also within the new system by building a connection to the systems of the Finnish Defence Forces.

Surveillance aircrafts of the Finnish Border Guard are used – in addition to border control – for oil spill monitoring and mapping out the extent of the spill during response operations. During 2009 the planes are equipped with a new environmental monitoring system and this will be connected as smoothly as possible to the data management system of BORIS 2. The objective is that the data gathered during a flight is available within BORIS 2 as near real time as possible.

During 2003- 2007 Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences developed an operational model for oil spill response for the Regional rescue service area of Kymenlaakso (SÖKÖ Pilot Project) and this work was extended to the entire Gulf of Finland (SÖKÖ II, 2007-2011) and later to Gulf of Bothnia area (PÖK 2013) and to Archipelago Sea (Archoil 2013). This development has been acknowledged within BORIS 2 and BORIS 2 project has co-operated closely with these projects to ensure that the contents of the operational model are integrated to the system where applicable. For example, the shore line segments and reconnaissance forms used by the SÖKÖ model are incorporated into BORIS 2 and used as the basis for the shore reconnaissance database as well as data insertion and visualization.

Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) has provided BORIS 1 with HIRLAM weather forecast information (wind direction and speed). Also the integration of the old BORIS and a drift forecasting model (OpHespo) has been implemented in cooperation with FMI, with the model running on an FMI server. The objective is to continue this cooperation with FMI and to extend the weather data so that it includes also information on the wave and ice conditions at sea.

Finnish Environment Institute has an agreement with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) giving SYKE access to SAR satellite radar imagery and information of potential oil spills observed from them. Both the imagery and the observed spills are to be automatically loaded into BORIS 2 system as near real time as possible. A connection is also planned with the Seatrack Web service provided by SMHI in Sweden, providing BORIS 2 with a tool for oil drift forecasting within the entire Baltic Sea area.

Time table

The project started in 2009 and the main task for the first year was to define the content, functions and technical solution of the system.

The actual implementation of the system was started in 2010 and continues until the autumn 2013.

Published 2013-06-07 at 14:43, updated 2013-12-23 at 11:05