Earlier this year, we announced the expansion of the Dataiku Neurons program, and we’re thrilled to include Bruno Sainte-Rose (@BrunoTOC) among its newest additions! Lead Computational Modeler at The Ocean Cleanup, he’s collaborated with Dataiku since we first struck a partnership with the nonprofit organization in 2018 to aid it in its mission to clean up 90% of floating ocean plastic pollution.
Meet Bruno and learn more about his data journey in the video below. Continue reading to dive deeper into The Ocean Cleanup’s activities and discover how it's using Dataiku to clean the world’s oceans and empower staff across the organization!
The Ocean Cleanup: Using Data to Remove Floating Plastic Debris
Every year, millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans, contributing to the creation of ocean garbage patches that increasingly impact our ecosystems, health, and economies. To help combat this, The Ocean Cleanup develops and scales technology to rid oceans of this non-biodegradable debris.
Its mission made it a perfect match for Ikigi.AI, the data for good initiative by Dataiku that puts AI tools and skills behind nonprofit causes, of which it became the inaugural partner. Within the frame of the program, The Ocean Cleanup was granted a free license to maximize the use of its data and improve operational efficiency, in addition to training, project co-development, and support with the implementation of its numerous data science projects.
One of the ways in which Bruno’s team, in particular, is leveraging Dataiku is to conduct operational monitoring and modeling of their plastic cleanup systems. By aggregating and processing data coming from different sources – such as environmental measures, GPS trackers, and weather forecast models – in Dataiku, they can then use this data for operational live monitoring of the systems, background experiments, and calibration of behavioral and cleanup efficiency models.
But don’t just hear about it from us: Bruno himself hosted an online event available on-demand, for you to delve deeper into this very topic!
Empowering Citizen Data Scientists
One of the other key impacts resulting from the implementation of Dataiku at The Ocean Cleanup is the democratization of data throughout the organization. This pioneering achievement was rightfully recognized in the 2021 edition of the Frontrunner Awards.
How did they manage this feat? Together with Bruno, we take a closer look at how the nonprofit empowered staff members to gain insights and leverage data.
Data Science Challenges
Before partnering with Dataiku, The Ocean Cleanup faced three major data science-related challenges that inhibited its nonprofit work:
Managing Data Processing Pipelines: The team needed a tool that allowed for ad-hoc data updating and processing with an optimal computing time.
Dealing With a Wide Variety of Data: They required a versatile data processing solution as they were handling data that was both structured and unstructured, of different nature, and that came in various formats from different providers.
Lacking a Centralized Platform: The nonprofit was looking to implement a centralized data science platform that promoted internal collaboration with specific roles, rights, and access that could be used by both technical and non-technical collaborators across the organization. Unfortunately, those they came across were not user-friendly and required too much expertise.
“Some of the data that we were manipulating was faulty, and we were missing a tool to have a quick scan through the data, to elaborate the right approach to correct it,” explains Bruno. “We were missing a tool to automate the updating of our pipeline, especially accounting for specific triggers, but also allowing for dashboarding and reporting options.”
Finding Solutions Through Data for Good
Thanks to the support provided by Ikigi.AI, the collaborative environment it fostered, and the overall user experience, Dataiku was adopted company-wide at The Ocean Cleanup – including by non-technical staff members!
“Having access to Dataiku allowed us to ramp up our data science analysis,” says Bruno. “The user-oriented, code-minimalistic approach provided by the Dataiku pipeline was a game-changer both for our data pre-processing and post-processing steps. The extensiveness of built-in operations to manipulate and prepare the data made it possible for less programming-savvy staff to perform their usually very time-consuming operations.”
This empowerment also allowed The Ocean Cleanup to leverage Dataiku to find solutions to its other data-related challenges, including the improved management of data pipelines, which involved tracking past workflows and accomplishments to optimize future projects.
“We first started using Dataiku to test our barriers in November 2018. Less than a year later, we easily replicated the same data workflow for a new test campaign, leveraging these new efficiencies to spend more time developing features,” explains Bruno. “In November 2020, during a campaign in the North Sea, our engineers only went through a quick Dataiku training to be able to reuse the previous data pipelines and features to focus their time on where they could add the most value.”
That’s not all: The platform's versatility also enabled users at The Ocean Cleanup to connect to data that was different in nature, format, and type and adapt them accordingly, allowing them to save much-needed time and resources!
The Rise of Citizen Data Scientists at The Ocean Cleanup
In addition to actionable solutions, The Ocean Cleanup leveraged Dataiku to empower staff members and create a significant impact across the organization. They accomplished this through several different levers:
Improved Operational Efficiencies to Focus Resources on Innovation: Dataiku enabled The Ocean Cleanup to centralize its whole workflow while maintaining the ability of practitioners to work with the technology they’re used to, allowing them to move faster and go further.
Easy Onboarding to Bring in More People to Better Fit Project Needs: Dataiku’s user-friendly interface makes it easy for The Ocean Cleanup to onboard new people to the platform, with the learning resources, as well as the expansive catalog of events and content, giving individuals a vast perspective on data science projects.
Quicker Decision-Making by Gathering Everyone on the Same Platform: Thanks to its visual interface, both technical and non-technical stakeholders can understand the data workflow, and the success metrics of the projects developed, enabling them to meet their goals by making quicker decisions as well as adjustments on the go.
Enabling Everyone to Bring in Their Skills Through Visual Recipes: The visual features of the platform, such as those for data wrangling and visualization, enables everyone at the nonprofit to contribute their individual skills to successfully conduct data science projects and draw insights from the data at hand.
Systematizing the Use of Data Through a Versatile All-in-One Platform: One of the most significant impacts of the implementation of Dataiku within The Ocean Cleanup is the systemization of data science across the organization, with its usage extended beyond the more technical departments to others, such as finance and communications.
“Through bringing together everyone on the same platform and the rise of ‘citizen data science,’ Dataiku enabled us to embed data science across the organization to create more value towards fulfilling our mission,” says Bruno.
Have a question for Bruno about his data journey with Dataiku and The Ocean Cleanup? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or reach out to him directly.
If you’d like to discover more inspiring use cases like this one, don’t hesitate to check out the other winners and finalists of last year’s Frontrunner Awards. The 2022 edition is coming soon, so stay tuned for updates and information on how you can submit your own story!