Decreasing carbon emissions with route optimization software
One of the great obstacles for accurate climate modeling of the ocean environment is a lack of direct data measurements. Sofar Ocean was founded to address this deficit by designing and manufacturing Spotter, a small-scale weather buoy that collects data in the far reaches of the open ocean. Sofar uses this pin-pointed data to power an ocean weather forecasting model that is up to 50% more accurate than NOAA for short-range forecasts. Applying this data to practical use we built Wayfinder, a route optimization tool for shipping companies that turns weather insights into dynamic routing guidance for shipping vessels, updating and rerouting them as new weather systems emerge. Greater efficiency saves fuel and money, with our ultimate goal being to decrease the carbon output of shipping companies, some of the biggest contributors to global carbon emissions.
Visual Design System
For ultimate utility to ship Captains we needed to provide comprehensive weather map layers that accommodate upwards of 20 different data sets. Insights like wave height, wind speed, currents, sea and air temp, salinity, precipitation, visibility, sea ice, etc. are all critical to the safe navigation of ships and are standard issue for any ocean navigation software. To address this complexity I created a flexible color system that prioritizes data accuracy, legibility, and accessibility. The color system divides the data into three buckets: ocean-related data is teal, atmospheric data is blue, and additional data points are purple. On top of these base layers we also needed to overlay additional information like multiple route options, pressure isobars, tropical storms, etc. Maintaining legibility and a quick read was of primary importance in creating this as a scalable system.
Reporting and Analysis
To meet the needs of Executives and Operations staff the Wayfinder Operations and Oceanography teams generate post-voyage analysis reports. This example compares two potential routes along the voyage and the final outcome of our decision. In this case, the coastal route with lower wave heights was chosen over the original voyage plan. Making this change saved the shipping company 35 MT in fuel and $10,000, though it did come at the cost of lost time. Both the software and our team must weigh these conflicting priorities as they can sometimes be at odds with one another. Options are considered carefully and in open conversation with Ship Captains and Shoreside Operators.
Open Source Weather Data
To support the scientific community and the general public, Sofar makes their Spotter data available online at weather.sofarocean.com. The website below shows the location of all Spotters globally, and compares real-time observations to Sofar's forecast model.