Skip to content

Ocean of Data Challenge: Exploring Ocean and Climate Text Data

COVEDeepSense, and ShiftKey Labs are hosting the fifth Ocean Data Challenge. Join us for some creative collaboration and idea generation! This free event will kick off virtually on Monday, February 13th at 6 pm with an introduction to the Challenge, presentations from experts, and the chance to ask questions to help with idea exploration. Final presentations will be held virtually on February 27th at 6 pm.

We are inviting students at post-secondary institutions across Atlantic Canada to use ocean data to dive into social media and explore the text and language used online when talking about the ocean and climate. The Challenge runs for two weeks, allowing you to take your time, 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!

The Challenge

We are surrounded by text data. There is plenty of text about the ocean or climate change from social media, books, magazines, journal publications, and handwritten documents. Use this Challenge to explore an aspect of data and share something insightful, shocking or simply informative.

Text analytics combines machine learning, statistical and linguistic techniques to process large volumes of unstructured text or text that does not have a predefined format to derive insights and patterns. This can include social media posts, image tags, written reports, and emails. Text analytics is used for deeper insights, like identifying a pattern or trend from unstructured text. #ocean #climate

Traditionally our Challenge has been broken down into three Challenge Streams: Under the Water, On the Water, and Above the Water. For this Challenge, we welcome the same themes but also encourage you to consider the range of methods to analyze text. Consider the sentiment, false facts, bullying, emotions or other aspects of speech analysis.

Individuals and teams will be asked to choose one stream and provide interdisciplinary ideas for helping understand or explore patterns within text data relating to the ocean or climate change.

Each stream can be used to explore different ways people communicate about aspects related to the ocean. For example: “Under the Water” can explore how people talk about observing fish while snorkelling or perceptions of offshore oil and gas, “On the Water” can include people’s movement, and “Above the Water” can include a bigger picture view of the interactions.

Challenge Stream #1: Under the Water

How do people talk about what is happening under the water? Is there a more frequent mention of ocean water temperature based on the time of year or location of the social media poster? What tags do people use when they share media when they scuba dive? Are they concerned with water temperature and species sustainability? Can a chatbot be used to help people understand sensors or subsea equipment?

Challenge Stream #2: On the Water

What considerations should be made about the movement of people, vessels and other future activities on the water? What is public sentiment about autonomous vessels that will one day travel across the ocean? What does data visualization about climate concerns look like based on geographical location? Are there variances in perceptions of climate change and ocean impacts based on language? Are there images or videos shared about boats or other vessels being used on the water? Do people consider kayaking or canoeing an environmentally friendly mode of transportation?

Challenge Stream #3: Above the Water

How do people write and talk about things that fly over the water? Does anyone share google images or satellite photos with specific hashtags about coastal erosion or significant coastal storms? What info gets shared about extreme winds? How does sentiment (positive, negative, neutral) vary in the text when people talk about images and satellite use to protect marine species that travel within shipping lanes? Do people talk about air quality?

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, February 13th at 6 pm AST and will be 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 an insightful bar chart. Or you could use machine learning to build a prediction tool. A detailed word cloud may help explain a topic, or a review of a complex corpus may show some interesting insights. 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.

Expected Outcome and Submissions

All teams will be required to make a 3-minute virtual presentation on Monday, February 27th, starting at 6pm.

  • The presentation can be 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
  • All teams must provide a summary of their solution by 3pm on Monday, February 27th to
  • Your tangible outcome or solution will vary based on your skill, background, area of expertise and team. It is expected you will have created a prototype of some kind that could range from a technology solution, a visualization, or an overall plan to address some of the questions outlined in the Challenge Streams.

Schedule (all times are in Atlantic Time)

Monday, February 13th, 6 pm: The Challenge kicks off! Individuals and teams choose one stream and provide interdisciplinary ideas for helping understand how our ocean and climate change are reflected in the text. The session will be live-streamed, recorded, and shared within 24 hours with those who cannot attend.

Wednesday, February 15th, 11:59 pm: Register to participate in the Challenge with your team.

Monday, February 27th, 3 pm: To be eligible for presentation, team concept submissions must be emailed to with “Challenge submission form TEAM NAME” in the subject line.

Monday, February 27th, 6 pm: Presentations and judging.

Contact Us
Discover your opportunities in ocean tech with COVE.