Ocean of Data Challenge

What is the Ocean of Data Challenge?

The Ocean of Data Challenge has begun!
Submit your ideas in video format by June 5th at 11:59pm ADT!

Future Green Ports

May 24 – June 5, 2023

Post-secondary students from institutions across Atlantic Canada are invited to use ocean data to explore the opportunities with the proposed Bedford Ferry and help transform the daily commute of thousands living in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Join the Ocean of Data Challenge by The PIER, COVE, ShiftKey Labs and DeepSense for some creative collaboration and idea generation! Participants submit their video presentation on Monday, June 5th and the winners are announced on Friday, June 9th.

We are already seeing how port cities are evolving from grey to green. Halifax is already transitioning to be greener and this is only the start. Some cities are shrinking their driving lanes to build pedestrian or bike-only lanes, and increasing EV charging stations for cars, electric scooters, and bikes.  But port cities face unique challenges, they act as hubs that connect the sea to land by roads, rails and air, while supporting shipping, cruise, and naval routes and being part of an active, living city.

The OOD: Future Green Ports had a kick off presentation on May 24th! Watch the recording above to hear from:

  • Scott Whitehurst, Director, Environmental Policy & Compliance for the Virginia Port Authority

  • Derrick Whalen, Director, Information & Technology Services for the Port of Halifax

  • Cameron Duval, Business Development Analyst at Datifex

  • Dawne Skinner, CIO & Co-Founder of Acuicy


The Port of Halifax is distributed along the Halifax Harbour, with shipping terminals on either end of the urban city centre, as a result, trucks transport containers between these terminals each day, adding to the city traffic congestion and increasing carbon emissions. The Port also intermingles with local commercial and residential areas and along with natural land formations, have limited the capacity to use a single rail line to connect all container terminals. The Halifax Port Authority (HPA) is looking at creative ways to conduct business that has the least environmental impact, and that will help to meet their ambitious net zero goals.  Digital technologies will play a key role in this. 

This Data Challenge will invite participants to imagine new ways to bring together the City of Halifax and the Port of Halifax in a greener, more efficient and sustainable way. Answer the ultimate question: How can we create a greener port? We are inviting students at post-secondary institutions across Atlantic Canada to use ocean data to examine how we can drive urban port city sustainability through this Challenge. 

The challenge is broken down into three Challenge Streams: On the Water, In the Port, and Around the Port.  Individuals and teams will be asked to choose one stream and provide interdisciplinary ideas for exploring how Halifax can become a greener port. Each stream can be used to explore different types of data, for example: “On the Water” can explore how we can better understand vessel movement or optimization, “In the Port” can explore green options within port activities and “Around the Port” can include community and environmental impacts from Port activity.

Challenge Stream #1 Theme: On the Water

How do ships move to and from the port? What are ways to reduce the environmental impact of the shipping or cruise ship industry in Halifax? How do these industries move to net zero? What are the benefits (economic, environmental, social) to having  green corridors and how could these be evaluated?

Challenge Stream #2 Theme: In the Port

How can the movement of goods from ships to trucks, trains, and planes be done in a more green way? How feasible is it to switch to using electric vehicles? What efficiencies can be realized in the port? What new opportunities are created as Halifax becomes more green? How does a port move to net zero?

Challenge Stream #3 Theme: Around the Port

How can port efficiencies benefit the surrounding community? What are the environmental impacts of the port of Halifax?  How do we optimize truck movements? With one rail, how can we optimize movement between two? Halif

This Challenge allows you to work at your own pace to explore ways to learn about ocean data, meet others with the same interests and bring together unique skills to create a team (or work solo). This is a fantastic way to show off your design, programming or other talents. Not to mention more than $2,000 in prizes!

Who should participate? 

The best ideas come from interdisciplinary teams, so we invite those studying Computer Science, Engineering, Biology, Sustainability, Business, or any other programs!  As long as participants are students who are registered full or part-time at an Atlantic Canada post-secondary educational institution or graduated from one of those institutions in the past 12-months.  You can go solo, or work with a team of up to five people. Please ensure you read the Official Rules below. Deadline to submit is June 5th at 11:59 pm ADT!

The Rules 

  • Competitors must own rights or have written permission from the owner for all software demonstrated in the competition. 
  • Your submission could be as simple as just a single really insightful bar chart. Or maybe you will use machine learning to build a prediction. Surprise us! Judging will be based on the potential for impact, originality, and creativity. 
  • Competitors can work solo or on teams of up to 5 members.
  • Competitors are not allowed to submit projects containing confidential information 
  • Required to use one source of public data, noting the source of the data in the presentation or within infographic, visual or slides
  • Must currently be living in Canada with an active Canadian bank account that can accept a direct deposit
  • Must be a current part-time or full-time student of an academic institution in Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador) or have graduated from one of these institutions in the past 12 months.

Expected Outcome and Submissions 

  • On Monday, June 5th, 2023 at 11:59pmADT submit the following: 
  • The video presentation can be of a diagram, a technology solution, an analysis of data,  or something else, as long as it is a solution to one of the Challenge Stream questions outlined above.
  • Your tangible outcome or solution will vary based on your skill, background, area of expertise and team.

Schedule (all times are in Atlantic Time)

Wednesday, May 24th at 6 – 8 pm: The challenge kicks off! Learn how being a One Port City makes Halifax a more efficient and sustainable port. The session will be a live virtual panel and also recorded and shared within 24 hours with all those who were not able to attend.

Monday, June 5th at 11:59pm: Individual registrations must be submitted as well as Team concept submissions must be emailed to info@deepsense.ca with “Challenge submission form *TEAM NAME*” in the subject line to be eligible for presentation.  Judges will review all submissions over the following three business days.

Friday, June 9th by 4 pm:  Participants will be contacted with the results!

Sign up today – We look forward to seeing you there!

Past Ocean of Data Challenges

The Bedford Ferry

November 2 – 9, 2021 

Post-secondary students from institutions across Atlantic Canada are invited to use ocean data to explore the opportunities with the proposed Bedford Ferry and help transform the daily commute of thousands living in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Challenge Data Sources

  • 79 students registered 
  • 23 teams registered 
  • 10 teams participated in the final presentations, check out their ideas here 
  • Students participated from the following universities: Dalhousie University, University of New Brunswick, Saint Mary’s University, Mount Saint Vincent University, Acadia University, Nova Scotia Community College 
  • Students were in the following programs: Computer Science, Masters of Digital Information, Bachelor of Commerce Co-op, Master of Planning, PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering, BSc Biology, Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering Technology     
  • First Place: Sea-nic route (Shannon, Matt and Liam from Dalhousie University) 
  • Second Place: The Efficient Charger (Kumar from Dalhousie University) 
  • Best Design: ODS (Yuqing, Arjun, Chu, and Fan from Dalhousie University) 
  • Best Technical: Ocean Mapping Group (Vishwa, Madumitha, and Madeline from University of New Brunswick) 

Coastal Communities and Climate Change

February 8 – 15, 2022

The Ocean Frontier Institute joins COVE and DeepSense to help host the second Ocean of Data Challenge. Teams explored interdisciplinary ideas and concepts that would help coastal communities adapt to impacts cause by climate change.

 Challenge Data Sources

  • 21 students registered 
  • 13 teams registered 
  • 5 teams participated in the final presentations
  • Students participated from the following universities: Dalhousie University, University of New Brunswick, Saint Mary’s University, University of Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton University, and Memorial University
  • Students were in the following programs: Computer Science, Masters of Digital Information, Geomatics Engineering, Master of Applied Ocean Technology, BSc Biology, Corporate Residency MBA    
  • First Place: Crowdsourced BioPulse (Shannon and Matt from Dalhousie University) 
  • Second Place: ATLANTIC FORCE (Vishwa and Madumitha from University of New Brunswick and Fadal from Dalhousie University) 
  • Third Place: Virtual Whale (Hardik, Huryash, Arjun and Mihir from Dalhousie University)
  • Judges Choice: No Noise (Artash, a highschool student from Ontario)

One Port City

May 2 – 20, 2022

Join the Halifax Port Authority, PSA Halifax, COVE and DeepSense for the next Ocean of Data Challenge! 

PSA Halifax now owns the Fairview  and the Atlantic Hub container terminals in Halifax, making our port unified like few others. The Port of Halifax now has one terminal operator, one railroad operator, and one port authority. This change helps Halifax become a One Port City and will create new opportunities for our community.

  • Sheila Patterson, COO of COVE
  • Rahul Mehra, Director of Sr. Practice Lead at Intelligent SystemsIBI
  • Patrick Bohan, Director, Government Relations & Stakeholder Engagement at the Port of Halifax
  • 70 students registered
  • 7 teams competed
  • 19 academic programs represented
  • 7 Atlantic Canada institutions participated 
  • First Place: 
    • Pradeep Raj and Kirk from the Marine Terminal Truck Logistics (MTTL) Team 
  • Second Place:
    • Tanmoy from the Truck Delay Visualizer Team
  • Third Place:
    • Theresa from Team McPhee
  • Best Creative Design:
    • Vanessa, Cary, Jin, and Van Cuong from H2O (Halifax to Ocean)

Creating a Digital Harbour from Sea to Space

November 7 – 21, 2022 

Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE), DeepSense, and ShiftKey Labs hosted the fourth Ocean Data Challenge supporting creative collaboration and idea generation. Students were invited to use ocean data to examine what should our future digital harbour look like. 

Challenge Data Sources

  • Kennedy Sittler, Marine Technical Specialist of COVE
  • Mae Seto, Associate Professor, Irving Chair in Marine Engineering and Autonomous Systems at Dalhousie University
  • Anthony Isenor, Acting Section Head for our Maritime Systems Experimentation and Analytics (M-SEA) section, DRDC
  • Jane Matthews, Senior Project and Program Manager at CarteNav
  • Daniel Arantes, Senior Software Engineer at GSTS
  • Bruce MacDougall, Senior Project Manager at COVE
  • First Place: 
    • Emeka and Chukwuka from the Team Oceanya 
  • Best Creative:
    • Marike and Kayla from the The Techie Turtles
  • Best Presentation:
    • Carson from Station Environment Alerting System (SEAS)

Exploring Ocean and Climate Text Data

February 13 – 27, 2023

Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE), DeepSense, and ShiftKey Labs hosted the fifth Ocean Data Challenge supporting creative collaboration and idea generation. We are surrounded by text data. From social media, books, magazines, journal publications, and handwritten documents, there is no shortage of text about the ocean or climate change. Participants used this challenge to explore text data and share something insightful, shocking or simply informative.

  • Michael Goudreault, Instructor – Communications and Project Management at Dalhousie University
  • Emma Ross, Communications Coordinator at The PIER
  • Keshava Pallavi Gone, Interdisciplinary PhD candidate & part-time faculty in computer science and Faculty of Management at Dalhousie Univeristy
  • First Place: 
    • Eruige (Brigitta) Zhao from the Team BZ 
  • Best Creative:
    • Emeka and Chukwuka from Team CC 
  • Best Presentation:
    • Stephan, Jenna, Mitchell, Patrick, and Matthew from Team Bay of Data Fundy-mentals
  • Best Creative Solution
    • Tan Ha, Cary, So Man, Mary and Jin from Dynamic Team

Interested in getting connected?

Our newsletter and online community will help you connect with like-minded people, learn about how to participate in the growing potential of AI, and discover the infinite uses of ocean data. 

Connect Now

Follow us on social media