i. Challenge

The waters off the coast of California are home to majestic, endangered whales as well as critical shipping traffic. Whale-ship strikes — where a vessel passing through the busy waters of the Santa Barbara Channel or San Francisco Bay collides with a whale — are becoming more frequent.

Research shows that vessels slowing to 10 knots or less can dramatically decrease the risk to whales, so the Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory asked LGND to help raise awareness of the issue and bring data together from different sources to help save them.


II. Solution

We traveled to the University of California Santa Barbara to collaborate with the talented scientists, engineers, regulatory advisors, shipping company representatives, and staff at the Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory.

Our objective was to guide the stakeholders towards a common digital solution, and then execute on that shared vision. We created the brand and visual identity for the initiative. We also helped design and implement an algorithm for scoring and visualizing whale presence probability on a daily basis, and created maps and interactive tools to make the data available in one place for the first time.

III. results

The result of this effort was the launch of Whale Safe, a technology-based mapping and analysis tool that collects and displays whale modeling, sighting, acoustic, and ship data to help prevent whale-ship collisions.

It is the first actionable whale notification system that incorporates AI-powered ocean sensors, big data models, citizen science, and ship tracking data.

The project garnered widespread media coverage and continues to be an ongoing source of information for the shipping industry, regulatory agencies, and ocean scientists. The whales probably appreciate it, too.

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