New Plymouth company is a finalist for work developing oceanography technology

MetOcean Solutions and the Defence Technology Agency worked together to create the software that was able to forecast ...
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MetOcean Solutions and the Defence Technology Agency worked together to create the software that was able to forecast the surf conditions on beaches around the world.

Landing an army on an unknown beach can be a difficult task, but a Taranaki company is making it easier and safer.

MetOcean Solutions spent the last year working alongside the New Zealand Defence Technology Agency (DTA) to create the SurfZoneView software that gives a detailed map of the currents, rips, swell, wave height and a long list of other variables at a remote beach.

It was designed to help with naval beach landings, such as those used to evacuate people from quake-stricken Kaikoura.

The technology was recently used to support beach landings on a recent New Zealand Defence Force mission in Fiji.
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The technology was recently used to support beach landings on a recent New Zealand Defence Force mission in Fiji.

On Thursday, the New Plymouth based oceanography company was named as a finalist in the KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards for the software.

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MetOcean science communication Malene Felising said they were "super excited" to be named as finalists alongside DTA in the research and business partnership section.

The forecasting can give real time updates on the surf conditions, making landings safer.
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The forecasting can give real time updates on the surf conditions, making landings safer.

"It's been a fantastic relationship," she said.

The software was used for making important decisions like which part of a beach to land on, or whether to postpone a landing for a day or two.

Felising said while it might look fine from the shore, it could be quite different looking at it from a boat and negotiating through the waves and rips could be hard.

The data could also provide a forecast over a two or three day period on the sea conditions.
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The data could also provide a forecast over a two or three day period on the sea conditions.

"It will look calm when you're on the on the beach and you're bathing," she said.

However, even small waves could make it difficult to keep a boat from capsizing, she said, and while the Defence Force had some highly skilled operators, it added another tool they could use to mitigate the risks.

"It's extremely dangerous but fortunately we can predict this with computer modelling," she said.

It mostly used weather forecasts to predict what the conditions would be like on any particular beach, but it could also be connected to buoys in the water.

"You can use any type forecast data to put into this model but the better the data you put in, the better that forecast is," Felising said.

While the technology was developed primarily for the Defence Force, it had been commercialised and there were two other navies around the world that were interested in it.

"It could also be used by coast guards and anyone involved in search and rescue," she said.

The winners will be announced at an evening reception on July 13, in Auckland.

 - Stuff

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