With World Oceans Day upon us, all eyes are on our coasts, nowhere more keenly than coastal B.C. The ocean has a lot to tell us, but how to listen, and what to do, isn’t always easy.
Enter Dr. Scott Beatty’s MarineLabs, a Victoria-based coastal intelligence company that has created smart technology that can be attached to any floating surface that monitors wave activity wherever their sensors are located. Harnessing the data of the ocean could upend the way we view maritime navigation, and in a province like B.C., in a country like Canada with so much coast and so many waterways, finding high resolution data from which to make key routing and even building decisions is a major coup.
CoastAware™, the company’s flagship technology, used by clients like the Port of Prince Rupert, the University of Victoria, the Government of Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard and BC Ferries, to name a few, is making waves, and tracking weather data in the professional maritime industry.
Boasting first of its class resolution, the technology provides full, targeted and specifiable data reports to clients ranging from wave activity and wind gusts to weather systems. For marine engineers needing to make crucial decisions like heights of breakwaters or busy ports deciding how to schedule the arrival and departure of major international shipping freights, high resolution can make a difference of tens of thousands of dollars within minutes.
Dr. Scott Beatty, the founder of MarineLabs has a PHD in Ocean Wave Energy and Ocean Engineering from the University of Victoria, though his roots and Bachelor and Masters of Applied Science engineering degrees. Using his love of the ocean, scientific training, and awareness of the vast data available to those needing to design breakwaters, harbours, ports, marinas and more, MarineLabs was born. His solution, small, easily deployable sensors that also boast top of its class data was the genesis of MarineLabs today.
Founded five years ago, there are currently 25 CoastAware™ sensors deployed across coastal Canada. Beatty hopes to blanket the waters of Canada, and the world. Nimble, agile and heavy on data, the information provided by MarineLabs equipment could help tackle some of the supply chain woes facing ports all over the world. Creating high definition, robust data reports every 15 minutes shared with subscribers, MarineLabs is able to observe weather events and patterns and provide analyzable data for clients well in advance on how to navigate, mitigate and build for them.
On opportunities ahead for MarineLabs, Beatty has this to say, “Canada has roughly 10,000 marker buoys currently to aid navigation, and given how much coastline Canada has, that’s just an incredible amount of available coastline to serve. We think each of these sites should be real time data sites,” emphasizing the vast coastline in Canada alone.
He continues, “the way we built our technology is really simple and can be added onto each of existing navigational aids, meaning the red and green buoys put in place by the Coast Guard and government that mark the channels. We’re working with the Coast Guard right now and we think we could have thousands of data points along the coastline, relatively quickly. The ocean has a lot to tell us, we’re just harnessing how to get and use that data in a useful, tangible way.”
How MarineLabs works:
- Through its fleet of ocean sensors and data sources, MarineLabs offers up-to-the-minute data and near-real-time access to every single wave and gust of wind
- Identification and attribution of vessel wakes
- Access to historical and real-time data, transforming marine mobility and enhancing the climate resilience of coastlines
- This ultimately leads to more sustainable shorelines, more data to make important decisions and the optimization of marine operations (ie. with boats getting bigger and ports staying the same size, ports need to be able to make decisions in real-time)
Currently supporting B.C. marine operators and coastal communities, MarineLabs recently discovered a rogue wave using their data that made it onto SNL. The Weather Network also did a feature, where Dr. Beatty is seen and heard explaining his technology and just how capturing the rogue wave came to be.
The real-time data provided to port operators equipping them with up to the minute information allows them to be dialed into what is happening in local weather systems. This can help make decisions that could potentially save tens of thousands of dollars per day, if not millions. For example, with MarineLabs’ data, it’s possible that the Suez Canal crisis could have been avoided, or better prepared for and managed, which cost an estimated $10-billion.”
With World Oceans Day upon us and a greater emphasis on the crucial role our oceans play in everything from climate change to supply chain challenges, solutions like MarineLabs offer tech-imbued hope into improving efficiency and safety to how we navigate our oceans.