This blog was co-authored by Andrew Smith, Pascal Philipp, Rachel Keay, Cate Seale and Mike Hudgell.

Using research weeks to push the boundaries of data science at the UKHO

Welcome to our quarterly blog post in which we share our ‘research week’ findings, as we explore the interesting bits of data science and machine learning. This month, the team look at reinforcement learning, automate choosing spectral indices, pre-process satellite images, attend a conference and investigate a whole load of useful tools and techniques!

What is research week?

Members of the Data Science team at the UKHO come up with excellent ideas for how we can apply the latest in machine learning or big data research to the…

This post contains notes from my studies. It’s mostly to keep them where I can find them, but if someone else finds them useful, that’s good too ☺️.

Before we kick off, here’s what I look like to trying to fix LaTeX when it’s pasted into Medium:

Not an actual photo of me studying, but a picture of a girl with her head in a book.
Not an actual photo of me studying, but a picture of a girl with her head in a book.
Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

Back in June 2019 I wrote a 10 page report on the inner workings of recurrent neural networks and long-short term memory units. Not as fun as implementing them, but useful nonetheless!


An artificial neural network (ANN) is a network of interconnected algorithms used in machine learning to recognise patterns in data…

Part I of this blog series is here.

At the UKHO we are interested in the oceans, the seabed and the coastline — not to mention everything in and on them! In our previous blog, we (the UKHO Data Science team) outlined our quest to automate mapping of the world’s coastlines.

From that work, a satellite-derived coastline for the British Isles was created, available for free on the ADMIRALTY Marine Data Portal. Since then we have come across use cases for this data on an almost-daily basis, and the feedback we have received can be summarised into three main themes:

At the UKHO, we use data science to gain valuable insight into the data sets we hold and further our understanding of the marine environment around us.

One of our latest projects combines satellite imagery and computer vision techniques to enable us to automate the creation of new coastline data.

A new coastline data set

Automating the creation of coastline data was important to us for a variety of reasons. Firstly, we wanted to form the basis for performing global change detection. For us, this would help us to be more proactive in updating our portfolio of navigational charts.

Beyond navigation, this data could also…

Cate Seale

Senior Data Scientist @ UK Hydrographic Office

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