At Intertrust, we put a lot of work into our R&D efforts around our core technologies. That said, we have also been branching out beyond our own technologies by investing in venture backed companies as well. Our primary interest is finding companies we believe can help grow the ecosystem in which our core technologies can play a vital role. This blog post is the first of a series introducing the companies in the Intertrust portfolio.
Marinexplore: a data hub for the world’s ocean data
Marinexplore is a venture backed company specializing in handling the ever increasing data being collected around an extremely valuable natural resource: the world’s oceans. Marinexplore is now working on two separate product tracks. One of them, Marinexplore.org (http://marinexplore.org), Marinexplore’s current product, is an open and freely accessible online database and visualization tool for sensor based oceanic data. At this point 22 organizations such as NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), NASA (National Air and Space Administration) and MyOcean, are channeling their public data into Marinexplore.org, with more joining all the time. The other is a commercial track. Marinexplore is working on a data platform for commercial organizations deeply tied to ocean resources such as offshore oil and gas drilling, shipping, marine expert services and instrumentation manufacturers. Many of these organizations currently have disparate data repositories, housed both online and offline, and are using software tools 10 to 15 years behind the cutting edge technology now available. This track allows these organizations and their partners to combine their distributed proprietary data sources in one actionable area and combine it as needed with other data sources such as public data.
A visual representation of Marinexplore.org data
As Rainer Sternfeld, CEO and Founder of Marinexplore, explains, this is the problem. Much of the work flow around oceanic data is focused on just one particular project, resulting in silos of the data as it generally sits in the data warehouses of the various specialized service firms which provide it. “The interest is in the results of the analysis, so usually you do the analysis and then move on,” (Sternfeld). Also, 80% of the time involved with making decisions around oceanic data is invested in the process of collection, handling, distribution and processing of said data, making it a very expensive and time consuming process. This increases the risk for organizations especially if they are dealing with time sensitive decisions. “When you have an oil platform which produces 250,000 barrels of oil a day, having it sit idle while you are waiting for the data analysis to finish before making a decision can be a very costly issue,” (Sternfeld).
How Marinexplore is solving this issue is by essentially creating a trusted hub for oceanic data. The goal is to allow organizations to connect different data repositories, manage the rights, distribute the data and analysis results and work with their customers in one controlled environment. Until now, there hasn’t been a platform set up to handle the wide variety of data types such as ocean buoy data, temperature data, radar data, ship data, satellite data, etc. in the surface, depth and time dimensions needed for oceanic analysis,. Marinexplore’s big data platform takes these disparate data types and creates a data informed worldwide model of the ocean. Beyond that, it provides the tools needed for companies to control the dissemination of data and analysis results. These tools consist of a private cloud offering for corporations to use as well as a data management server product for managing their distributed offline data repositories and are expected to be released throughout 2014.
Having instant access to this sort of data can be useful in a wide variety of scenarios. For example, while Marinexplore could not have helped British Petroleum detect the mechanical issue with the drilling platform which collapsed in the Gulf of Mexico, once the incident happened, BP could have had instant access to current, temperature and other data. With that access, they could quickly analyze that data to could help them do such things as model the flow of the oil on a much more immediate time frame. Marinexplore’s platform can help not only with the analysis needed for such operational aspects of oil drilling but all aspects of the lifetime of such an operation, including planning and permitting.
The innovations in Marinexplore’s platform are not just limited to access and control of data; they also include the data model itself. Marinexplore’s interconnected data model means they have organized the metadata around the data, allowing it to be explored from a variety of perspectives such as biological life forms, minerals, ownership, location, depth, type of sensors, etc. This allows organizations to create a wide variety of applications based on the particular parameter they are interested in.
From Whales to Trusted Data
One example of how Marinexplore data can be used comes from work Marinexplore.org did with one of its partners, Cornell University. Cornell had developed a computerized detection model which could detect the type of whale from recorded whale sounds at a 72% accuracy rate. Working with Marinexplore and the data analytics company Kaggle (http://www.kaggle.com/), Cornell opened up over 84,000 sample recordings to the community for a contest to see who could come up with a better whale detection program with a prize of $10,000. The contest started in February 2013 went for two months and the winning entry was able to detect whales at 98% accuracy. Marinexplore looks forward to creating similar challenges for its commercial customers as well.
Nicholas Kridler, a member of the winning team
As an investor in Marinexplore, Intertrust brings a deep understanding of the trust models around the movement of data across disparate networks, something which companies such as oil companies are deeply concerned with. While allowing organizations to securely access and analyze the world’s oceanographic data quickly on demand alone is an ambitious goal, the companies’ ambitions don’t end there. Through its platform work, Marinexplore is creating a data architecture which is redefining how environmental data is managed which can be applied to other fields as well such as climatology, aeronautics and even space.