The CEO of MarineLabs thinks everything that floats should be a real-time data station

The coastal intelligence company in Victoria recently recorded a rogue wave that made it onto Saturday Night Live

The kind of data that Victoria-based coastal intelligence company MarineLabs collects could’ve prevented the Suez Canal crisis, according to its CEO, Scott Beatty. “There was an issue with high wind and it was determined to be a pilot error,” he explains. “But if the winds were better known and more of the data was available for the captains who were handling the ship, then I believe we could’ve made a difference in avoiding that incident.” 

The company—which recently recorded a freak wave that made it onto SNL—arms coastlines with instruments that collect information. Data is then processed and stored in a cloud-based system, which is accessible through a subscription service.  

Beatty, who graduated from UVic with a PhD in ocean engineering, claims that this kind of intel can be used to improve marine safety and climate resolutions. He also claims that if everything that floats were used as real-time data stations, coastlines would be lit with intelligence that could benefit marine operators and help build climate adaptation into coastline infrastructure. 

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Convenience is a big draw for clients that work with MarineLabs, which launched in 2017, because they don’t have to worry about handling equipment in the ocean to get data. Involved with organizations like BC Ferries, the U.S. department of energy and Lake Cowichan First Nations, the use case for MarineLabs intelligence ranges from ship navigation to weather statistics used for coastal impact assessments. Machine learning calculations is another application for the data to extract useful insight for policy management in habours and ports.  

The ocean tech entrepreneur is filling a gap when it comes to accessing weather conditions data. “Government buoys were updated only once an hour with low quality,” he notes. Although MarineLabs has units deployed in the East Coast and in the West Coast from Prince Rupert down to Vancouver Island (and also in San Diego), Beatty wants to expand its network: “When we have many more units in the water, we’re going to be able to make marine transport safer but also help with climate resilience, which is built into our value system. We want to see coastal protection—we want to make sure that people can live on coastlines forever.”