Ocean data problem‑solving series launches with Halifax commuter ferry challenge

- October 29, 2021

Students are being invited to examine a proposed commuter ferry route from Bedford to downtown Halifax, shown above, as part of the Ocean of Data Challenge.  (Jason Pitcher photo/Flickr)
Students are being invited to examine a proposed commuter ferry route from Bedford to downtown Halifax, shown above, as part of the Ocean of Data Challenge. (Jason Pitcher photo/Flickr)

A Dal-based big data research platform has joined forces with an influential local marine technology accelerator to launch a new event series next month that challenges students to put ocean data to work in solving real-world problems.

The Ocean of Data Challenge — organized by DeepSense and The Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) — kicks off online November 2-9 with an assignment that’ll see students exploring a proposed commuter ferry line that would run from the Bedford Basin to downtown Halifax.

A $3.3-million study was announced this past summer with funding from federal and provincial governments and the Halifax Regional Municipality to look at the concept designs for the ferry terminal building, site access, and site design.

DeepSense and COVE are inviting students to use a variety of publicly available data and explore what it takes to create a quick, safe, environmentally friendly, and affordable ferry in an area that is both environmentally and commercially important.

“The Ocean Data Challenge is an excellent way for students to explore data in the ocean sector and solve real problems in the market,” says Melanie Nadeau, CEO of COVE.  “There is a need within the ocean sector for talented young innovators who are data-savvy and ready to help solve the issues of tomorrow.”

The challenge is an opportunity for students to show their design and programming skills and other talents through the creation of a prototype that could range from a technology solution, a visualization, or an overall plan to address the potential impact the ferry could have. Each student, or team, will have three to five minutes to present to a panel of judges one week after the event starts on November 9.

First of many

Through the Ocean of Data Challenge, DeepSense and COVE hope to introduce students to the countless opportunities available in the ocean sector and the chance to network.

"Participating in an ocean data challenge provides students with the opportunity to grow their skills and network,” says Jennifer LaPlante, executive director at DeepSense. “Learning how to work under a tight deadline, with a small team and address real world challenges with real data expands everyone's portfolio and list of accomplishments.”

The ferry challenge is open to undergraduate and graduate students in any program to help encourage interdisciplinary teams that will tackle one of three challenge streams: Under the Water, On the Water, and Around the Water.

Each stream can be used to explore different types of data, for example: “Under the Water” can explore salinity, temperature, eDNA data, “On the Water” can include wind speed and wave height data, and “Around the Water” can explore the movement of people and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  

Students who are passionate about finding solutions, growing their skills, and interested in earning more than $2000 in prizes are invited to sign up to the Ocean of Data challenge.

Registration is now open and will stay open up till the start of the event on November 2 at 6 p.m. Atlantic time. Participation is open to individuals and teams of up to five members. Register today.


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