App for ocean acidification SOpHIE (the Surface ocean pH interactive explorer) wins award

Credit: SOpHIE

Every single day over 20 terabytes (that’s 20 million megabytes!) of ocean data are collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—not to mention all the other organizations collecting data about the ocean. These bytes help us understand currents, water quality, fish populations and coral reefs. But despite being publically available, barely anyone accesses the government and academic data repositories. So, is it available? Technically yes. But is it easily accessible in a useful way? No, not really. These ocean data are valuable, and the fact that it’s collecting dust is a market failure. From shipping, to fishing, tourism, and recreation, the U.S. “blue economy” produces $352 billion in goods and services, and employs more than 3 million people. How might we unlock this wealth of data and put it to use for business, conservation and recreation?

To answer that question, the XPRIZE Ocean Initiative launched the Big Ocean Button Challenge on Herox—a global mobile app development competition to turn ocean data into needed ocean services. This competition was designed to encourage app developers and data scientists to work toward a future where the world’s ocean data is available at our fingertips, visualized in a user-friendly and meaningful way.


Sophie (Winner: Ocean Acidification) was designed to serve those working in aquaculture, fisheries and coastal monitoring, by delivering daily metrics of ocean acidification. This app lets users know if a site that matters to them is at risk from ocean acidification.

“Having SOpHIE to take publicly available data and transform it, to create completely new data and offer some kind of interpretation, will hopefully go a long way in addressing the needs of stakeholders.” —SOpHIE team

Matthew Mulrennan and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Scientific American, 16 February 2018. Article.

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