Big Ocean Button Challenge

Big Ocean Button Challenge

Mobile apps to turn ocean data into the products and services we need.

Challenge Overview


A wealth of ocean data has been and is being collected. Many of the datasets are open, yet very few are being used for resource management, business, or conservation. Most businesses, let alone individuals, do not have the time or ability to translate ocean data into actionable information, yet large industries and millions of people rely on the ocean for their livelihoods and well-being.

So long as ocean data remain disconnected from services that people and markets can use, we will be unable to engage the numbers of actors needed to address critical ocean challenges. Data collection is not evenly distributed across the ocean — some regions are in need of data acquisition, a need that could be addressed through the development of demand for data services, which will in turn drive demand for data collection tools. Overall, there is a market failure for meaningful data services, and the time is ripe for market development.

COMPETITION OVERVIEW— Developing Mobile Apps to Unlock Ocean Data.

What: A competition to develop mobile apps using ocean data sets. A total of $100,000 in prizes will be awarded for apps in the following categories: Fishing, Shipping and Trade, Ocean Acidification, Public Safety, and Exploration.

Why: Bring app developers to the trove of available ocean data in order to catalyze the growth of a potentially multi-billion-dollar industry in ocean data products.

How: Develop a mobile app that unlocks ocean data for public and/or private benefit, ideally while supporting responsible use and protection of our ocean.

When: Prize launches 9 November 2016. Teams register and submit app concepts by 31 March 2017. Semifinalists submit apps by 31 August 2017. Finalists submit second version of apps in Winter 2017. Winners announced in early 2018.


The goal of the Big Ocean Button Challenge is to advance development of and investment in ocean data products and services. Many sectors can benefit from solutions for organizing and standardizing ocean data. Some applications that are in need of ocean services include:

  • Monitoring and enforcement (of laws, regulations, or protected areas)
  • Resource management (biological, mineral, habitat, etc.)
  • Education and awareness
  • Sustainable seafood and fishing or aquaculture/mariculture activities
  • Navigation and shipping
  • Recreation
  • Public health and ecosystem health
  • Safety and security
  • Climate, weather, and hazards
  • Energy production


  • Catalyze development of an economic sector around services utilizing ocean data, thereby generating exponentially more demand for ocean data, and the curation of such data into accessible databases and resources.
  • Ensure valuable information about the ocean becomes accessible to millions more people than it is today.
  • Bridge gaps among entities and sectors that can make use of ocean data, including the scientific community, the tech community, ocean resource managers and governments, and the private sector.
  • Engage new participants and foster new collaborations to move this field forward.
  • Accelerate the transition of ocean data collection from a parochial activity performed by only end-users and into a broader information technology paradigm.
  • Identify gaps in data and challenges in data accessibility.
  • Most broadly, to create a vision of an ideal future ocean data services industry that can catalyze the sustainable economic valuation of our ocean needed to drive toward ensuring healthy oceans.


  • Click "Follow the Challenge" above to be notified of any status updates to the challenge.
  • Click "Yes Sign Me Up!" above to register for the challenge. You will be notified of any status updates and be able to create an entry to the challenge when it opens.
  • Click on the "Share" button or social media icons above to share this challenge with your friends, your family, or anyone you know who has a passion for discovery.
  • Leave a comment in our Comments Thread to join the conversation, ask questions, suggest available data sets or connect with other innovators.


For general dialogue about this challenge please start a discussion on the comments thread for the Big Ocean Button Challenge HeroX page.

For questions about registering or using the website contact HeroX.

For adding additional datasets you want listed email bigoceanbutton@xprize.org or leave a comment in the Comments Thread. 

Challenge Guidelines are subject to change. Registered competitors will receive notification when changes are made, however, we highly encourage you to visit the Challenge Site often to review updates.

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Exploration and Education Winner: SeaSee

SeaSee App shows us what the world would look like if the oceans were drained of water, using bathymetric (seafloor depth) data to generate 3D views. This app allows you to explore the ocean floor, from shipwrecks to marine habitats.

“If our app helps inspire a few young people to find out more and become scientists, engineers or oceanographers then it will have done its job.” – SeaSee team



Public Safety and Integrating Multiple Datasets Winner: SeaStatus

SeaStatus delivers personalized marine weather data to anyone with an internet-connected mobile device. This app translates super complex datasets into a simple interface, and helps mariners navigate safely.

“With incredible weather, nautical communities and access to everything the Pacific Ocean has to offer, the impetus for this app was to empower [Southern Californians] to take advantage of what they have.” – SeaStatus team



Fishing Winner: FishAngler

FishAngler enables anglers (aka recreational fishermen, of which there are over 45 million in the US) to log fishing experiences, discover new spots, and access NOAA and USGS weather and water data. This app could be a platform to crowdsource fish catch data, which would help fisheries managers, the scientific community, and the fishing community to better understand and protect fish stocks.

“I got bored being retired and I wanted to bring technology to the fishing industry and build something unique that captures one's fishing memories across family generations!” – FishAngler team



Ocean Acidification Winner: SOpHIE

SOpHIE 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    



Shipping and Trade Winner: Navisea

Navisea is designed for planning and tracking ocean voyages, and includes data on traffic, ports, docks, navigation, and weather. This app can make navigation tools accessible to smaller vessels and marry data from the economic-focused shipping industry with the environmental-focused government and NGO datasets.

“There's no reason that we can't begin to develop practices in the shipping industry that take environmental factors into further account.” – Navisea team  



Judges Award Winner: Chile es Mar

Chile es Mar aims to bridge the information gap between science, fishermen, and seafood consumers. The app connects local catch data from artisanal fishers with seafood purchasers, and promotes fair compensation for local, sustainable, and traceable seafood. The developers hope is to export this model to support small-scale fishing communities in other Latin countries.

“We bridged four different sectors: from artisan fishermen to consumers and from scientists to chefs in one place.” – Chile es Mar team



Conservation Winner: Endangered Waves

Endangered Waves can empower and incentivize surfers (there are 24 million worldwide) to monitor the health of their coastlines through crowdsourced data. Surfers can use this app to create crowdsourced data to identify and then reduce hazards in their local surf breaks. In the US, tourism and recreation comprise 72% of employment in the ocean economy and 31% of its gross value. Creating apps that cater to this market isn’t indulgent, it’s good business sense.

We have relied on a number of great partners to get where we are today...so it really is the story of the surfing and technology communities coming together to create a tool to protect what we love.”  - Endangered Waves team