Ocean of Data Challenge

What is the Ocean of Data Challenge?

Most recent Challenge: 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. The free event kicked off virtually on Monday, November 7th with an introduction to the Challenge, presentations from experts, and the chance to ask questions to help with idea exploration. Final presentations were held virtually on November 21st at 6pm.

For this Data Challenges  students at post-secondary institutions across Atlantic Canada  were invited to use ocean data to examine what should our future digital harbour look like. All challenges run for two weeks, allowing participants to explore ways to learn about ocean data and meet others with the same interests and bring together unique skills to create a team (or work solo). The Data Challenge is a fantastic way to show off design, programming or other talents. Not to mention more than $2,000 in prizes!


Halifax Harbour is a critical hub for Atlantic Canada and continues to rapidly grow. Creating a digital harbour could lead to more efficient decision-making, as well as being opportunities to be more transparent with the data in our harbour and how it is shared with the public. The idea of a a digital harbour is about creating a harbour that is monitored using underwater sensor platforms and above-water (land and space) sensors and platforms.  The data collected through this wired harbour can help us better understand our harbour by creating  opportunities and partnerships for companies to build AI and machine learning solutions.  Halifax Harbour is considered a mid-size port with naval, commercial, research and recreational activities happening on the water plus has a strong collection of ocean and aerospace companies, making the Halifax Harbour a great prototype in which to test the digital harbour concept! 

This Data Challenge will invite participants to explore what it means to create a Digital Harbour in Halifax.  Imagine how best it would be to set it up, how and what sort of data should be collected, how should it be stored or shared, how it could drive harbour efficiency and sustainability and help us better understand and communicate the benefits of being a digital harbour, or any other ideas you might have. 

The challenge is broken down into three Challenge Streams: Under the Water, On the Water, and Above the Water.  Individuals and teams will be asked to choose one stream and provide interdisciplinary ideas for helping understand the benefits of having a digital harbour in Halifax.

Each stream can be used to explore different types of data, for example: “Under the Water” can explore how we can better understand the sound and movement of vessel movement or optimization, and “On the Water” can include people movement, and “Above the Water” can include a bigger picture view of the interactions.

Challenge Stream #1: Under the Water

Some examples you can explore: How can technology be used underwater? How can a digital harbour keep our waterway safe? Are there measurements we need to consider now and in the future?

Challenge Stream #2: On the Water

Some examples you can explore:  What considerations should be made about the movement of people, vessels and other future activities on the water? What systems need to be built? What impacts will future technology have on today’s vessels and movement using the Halifax Harbour?

Challenge Stream #3: Above the Water

Some examples you can explore:  How can technology on land or in the sky help us better understand the harbour? Are there considerations that need to be made about the evolving waterways? How will aspects of the harbour change that need to be included in the overview of how we evaluate the ocean?

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. The Challenge kick-off will take place on Monday, November 7th at 4pmADT and streamed online, with a recording uploaded the next day. Please ensure you read the Official Rules below.

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 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.

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Melanie Nadeau, CEO of COVE

Captain Allan Gray, President & CEO of Port of Halifax

Kelvin Tan, Deputy CEO of PSA Halifax

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)

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