A Common Situation Awareness System for Finnish Authorities Participating in Oil Spill Response (BORIS)

In official service since the beginning of 2013

Figure 1. Using BORIS officials can access up-to-date information e.g. on the extent of oil spills, calculate future movements of the oil and plan response measures directly on a map interface. - In the picture, oil spill is illustrated as an orange polygon and the future movements of the oil with black dots from the spill towards WNW.  Response areas are illustrated with green polygons and protective booming with black line in front of the island.

Current Stage of the Project BORIS

The latest BORIS development project has been carried out between 2009 and 2013. As a result of the project a system called BORIS 2.0 was officially taken into service in the beginning of 2013.

Finnish Environment Institute’s (SYKE’s) role at the development project has been two-fold:  SYKE is the competent governmental oil response authority which together with the national Finnish Oil Pollution Fund has funded the development project. SYKE’s other role has been to develop the system BORIS. The Data and Information Centre of SYKE has been responsible for the technical implementation. Many authorities and other stakeholders have supported the project either as data providers or as end users planning and testing the system.

BORIS is considered to be a platform which fulfills  very well the requirements of the operational oil spill response. To ensure smooth introduction to the official use, SYKE launched already in 2012 an implementation stage of the project and continues giving training to BORIS users. With the help of user feedback, SYKE has identified possibilities to even further expand the possibilities to utilize BORIS. Thus SYKE is planning some further development projects to continue the development of the system.

The Contents of the System BORIS

BORIS is an Internet-based GIS for the Finnish authorities participating in oil spill response. BORIS 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.

BORIS contains:

  • wide variety of background maps
  • satellite images and spills observed in them
  • aerial and shoreline surveillance data
  • possibility for calculating drift forecasts
  • weather and environmental conditions
  • tools for planning and managing response operations
  • reporting tools

Why was BORIS needed?

In Finland oil pollution prevention, preparedness and response are based on a wide co-operation between the governmental and regional authorities. The duties and rights of the different prevention and response authorities are described by Law (Act on Oil Pollution Response (1673/2009)):

  • Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) is the competent governmental oil pollution response authority. It is in charge of measures against pollution incidents at open sea and whenever severity of an incident so necessitates.
  • 15 governmental pollution response vessels are owned and manned by different authorities; Navy, Border Guard and State-owned Shipping Company "Meritaito Oy". During pollution response operation these vessels are under the command of SYKE.
  • At coastal and inland areas each of the 22 Rescue Services Districts is responsible for the pollution response on its own area
  • Also other authorities have special duties related to pollution response. The total number of governmental and regional authorities participating in oil pollution response is almost 40.

To ensure the most effective co-operation and most coherent response measures the response authorities need a common situational awareness picture. BORIS system was updated to provide the authorities a modern tool for this purpose. BORIS is available to all governmental and regional authorities participating in oil spill response.

How does BORIS support oil spill response?

BORIS enables the Response Commander of an oil spill operation to view the different datasets necessary for response planning in a 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 forecasts and it enables the user to calculate a forecast of the oil drifting. Shore reconnaissance units can report their observations 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 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.

Examples of BORIS views

posteri-dia3.png raasepori-big.png
Figure 2. BORIS start page.
Until May 2013 over 150 officials from 30 different Finnish authorities are already BORIS users
Figure 3. An inland oil spill response operation in January 2013 in Southern Finland.  Oil leaked from power plant to ground and a lake. Oiled area is illustrated with pink. Source of the figure:
© SYKE/BORIS 2013, Photos © SYKE 2013.
halsingland.png BALEX-DELTA-2012.png
Figure 4. Reconstruction of the oil spill response operation after the grounding of m/s Hälsingland in Bay of Bothnia 1997. Observed oil spills are illustrated with red polygons and response areas with green polygons. Source of the figure:  © SYKE/BORIS 2013, Nautical chart © FTA 2013, Photos © FBG 1997 and SYKE 2012. Figure 5. Oil spill scenarios (red polygons) and oil response areas (green polygons)  of HELCOM fleet and Finnish Rescue Services Districts during HELCOM BALEX DELTA 2012 Exercise in Gulf of Finland. Source of the figure:  © SYKE/BORIS 2013, Nautical chart © FTA 2013, Photos  © FBG 2013.

Why is BORIS available only for authorities?

During an oil spill response operation, many different authorities update BORIS with information through many kinds of data connections simultaneously. During a major oil spill BORIS is expected to be under very heavy user load. To ensure the stability and usability of the system, SYKE has made a decision to restrict the number of BORIS users so that only the authorities participating in oil spill response have access to BORIS.

SYKE has considered it vital to ensure that the authorities participating in the response measures have at all cases unrestricted access to BORIS. Ensuring the access is important because BORIS is a tool to support the most coherent response measures to minimize the environmental damages.

How does BORIS support Communications?

The authorities can compile BORIS information into map-based situational awareness picture reports. These reports can be shared to other authorities through BORIS, sent to a BORIS interface or extracted from BORIS to Communications Officers, who finalize the material and release it to media. The general public receives BORIS situational awareness pictures through media or through the web pages of the competent authority, like SYKE (http://www.syke.fi/en-US/SYKE_Info/Communications_material/Press_releases).

Technology used for developing and implementing BORIS

Figure 6. BORIS flowchart

Technology used

  • Map service platform: ESRI ArcGIS Server 10.1  (development 9.3)
  • Application development platform: Silverlight (C#)
  • Databases: SQL Server 2008

Special features

  • includes specialized map tools
  • utilizes general map functionalities developed for the Finnish environmental administration (drawing, using map layers)
  • enables versatile management of emergency data
  • enables dynamic user management and user roles

Data interfaces

Utilizes data from many sources and in many ways:

  • automatic retrieval and processing
    • Finnish Meteorological Institute
    • European Maritime Safety Agency EMSA (under development)
    • Finnish Border Guard (under development)
  • WMS services
    • Finnish Transport Agency
    • HELCOM
    • National Land Survey of Finland
    • Finnish Navy (under development)
  • users’ own datasets and documents


  • Finnish Oil Pollution Fund
  • Finnish Environment Institute SYKE

Additional information

Published 2013-12-19 at 11:36, updated 2019-12-12 at 13:55