student team presents at 2017 Ontario Climate Symposium data challenge event


Learn | Code | Solve

The Ontario Climate Consortium hosted its first-ever climate data competition as part of the 2017 Ontario Climate Symposium at York University.

We invited laboratories at academic institutions and students from Ontario Universities in any discipline and all levels of experience to come together to participate in the development of an innovative programming and design solution to a practical climate change data problem.

The “Disrupt Climate Data” Challenge provided an opportunity for innovators to develop creative tools that assist in improving users’ access and understanding of climate data. The competition also gave students an opportunity to be trained in the practical issues of climate data, while competing for an award of up to $5,000, which was sponsored by the OCC and the Insurance Bureau of Canada.




Climate change remains one of the most important issues of our time. Access to reliable, understandable climate data that is easy to use, yet captures the complexities and uncertainty of climate modeling, is paramount to reducing climate impacts and risk.

Many users in Ontario have encountered difficulty in understanding the data they are obtaining online — and, in particular, the uncertainties associated with it.

Geographic information systems and maps (like this one) have been used to display and communicate climate data, but uncertainty remains a difficult aspect to incorporate and interpret.

Our challenge to participants: To disrupt the way climate data is currently displayed online, to make it more accessible and understandable.

Our goal: the creation of a widget, graph or other type of visual tool that can be used or embedded in existing data portals online to enhance user experience and understanding.



In all, 11 teams representing various universities across Ontario, as well as Upper Canada College, registered for the climate data challenge. All teams received the climate data in advance of the in-person event, along with support from the OCC secretariat to scope out potential solutions.

Three teams, totaling 12 students, took part in the in-person event at the 2017 Ontario Climate Symposium. During the event, the teams were mentored by public and private sector climate change practitioners, and were evaluated through a series of “pitch” presentations to a panel of judges.


cover of OCC Disrupt Climate Data Challenge report


Screenshots (Click to view full-sized)

screen shot of Team Codebusters OCC climate data challenge solution


screen shot of Team Datalytics OCC climate data challenge solution


screen shot of Team Datalytics OCC climate data challenge solution




We would like to acknowledge the generosity of the Government of Ontario and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) for the financial support to deliver the Disrupt Climate Data Challenge at the 2017 Ontario Climate Symposium, as well as the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) for their generous contribution to the award.

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University of Guelph logo GLISA logo FloodNet logo Government of Ontario logo ICLEI logo




– Event Sponsors –
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SSHRC logo
Insurance Bureau of Canada logo TRCA corporate logo
– Event Supporters –
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– Media Partners –
Alternatives Journal logo Womens Post logo
– Event Hosts –
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