Christophe Viau: From Arts & Biology to Big Data Visualization


Christophe Viau taking a musical break from D3.js.

Earlier this year we were excited to welcome data visualization engineer Christophe Viau to Planet OS. He brings extensive experience building visualization platforms and chart libraries for Datameer, Plotly and Boundary while remaining an active leader and lecturer in the D3.js community. His recent book entitled “Developing a D3.js Edge” was released in 2013 and serves as a demonstration of how to build a chart library with D3.js. We asked Christophe a few questions about how he came to make a career in data visualization and what trends he sees in the industry more generally.

How to Build the Google for Earth Data

I gave a talk yesterday at the 2015 Extremely Large Databases (XLDB) Conference at Stanford University focusing on the potential solutions to organizational and technical challenges presented by the NOAA Big Data Project. The Conference is targeted at fostering discussions around real-world challenges, practical considerations, and nuts-and-bolts solutions in the realm of analyzing and managing large datasets. We were honored to be able to sponsor the event and share some of the work we have been doing.


At the New Big Data Ecosystem session of XLDB 2015.

Planet OS Joins Amazon Web Services in Data Discovery for NOAA’s Big Data Project

Unleashing the power of NOAA’s data for economic growth and understanding the Earth

SUNNYVALE, CALIFORNIA, April 21, 2015 – Planet OS is honored to join Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a member of their Data Alliance within NOAA’s Big Data Project announced today. The company will work together with The Weather Company and ESRI under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to research and test solutions for bringing NOAA’s vast information to the cloud where both the public and industry can easily and equally access, explore, and create new products from it, thus fostering new ideas and spurring economic growth.

Final NOAA blog post image

Planet OS Director of Federal Operations Randy Ridley Explains How The Government Approaches The Cloud, Sensor Data, and IoT

Randy Ridley has been in charge of Federal Operations at Planet OS managing our business for the federal government since the first days of 2015. Randy brings with him three decades of experience inside the Washington Beltway as a seasoned executive with a proven track record of deploying enterprise software and technology solutions. We asked Randy a few questions to better understand how the federal government approaches enterprise software, the Internet of Things, and sensor technology.

Randy Ridley stands at Vienna Centennial Park in Vienna, VA.

Randy Ridley stands at Vienna Centennial Park in Vienna, VA.

Data engineers Christophe Viau and Andres Luhamaa join Planet OS

Christophe Viau (left) and Andres Luhamaa (right).

Christophe Viau (left) and Andres Luhamaa (right).


The year is off to a great start for Planet OS engineering. Christophe Viau, one of the leading members of the global D3.js data visualization community, joins us as a Data Visualization Engineer. We have also brought on Andres Luhamaa as a Data Integration & Quality Assurance Engineer to utilize his expertise in climate modeling and weather systems. Read on to hear more about what they’ve accomplished and why they decided to join our team:


Christophe Viau joins Planet OS as a Data Visualization Engineer based out of Montreal, Canada. He has previously built visualization platforms and chart libraries for Datameer, Plotly and Boundary while also having interned at SAP. He remains very active in the D3.js community as a lecturer and event organizer. His recent book entitled “Developing a D3.js Edge” was released in 2013 and serves as a comprehensive guide for intermediate-to-advanced D3.js visualization techniques. Christophe obtained his PhD in Software Engineering from École de Technologie Supérieure in Montreal, specializing in information visualization. He also holds a Masters degree in arts and biology. He is joining Planet OS to solve the challenges of visualizing massive multidimensional datasets and to have a direct impact on environmental causes.

Andres Luhamaa will work on data integration and advancing data quality assurance based out of Tartu, Estonia. Previously, he worked in the Estonian Weather Service as head of the numerical modeling department and was responsible for local numerical weather prediction system and interpretation of the remote sensing data, including meteorological satellites and radars. Andres has also worked as a researcher at the University of Tartu in its laboratory of atmospheric physics where he developed high-resolution numerical weather prediction models as well as computed regional re-analysis databases and future Estonian climates. Andres received BSc and MSc from University of Tartu in environmental physics and will concurrently be pursuing his PhD. He believes that by joining Planet OS he can contribute to creating new technologies for collecting and analyzing environmental data.

“Why build a Windows when you just need to build an Excel?” – Rainer Sternfeld speaks at Stanford

“Why build a Windows operating system when you just need to build an Excel?”

CEO Rainer Sternfeld asked students this question while guest lecturing last week in ME 421: European Entrepreneurship and Innovation Thought Leaders Seminar at Stanford’s School of Engineering. He spoke about the work Planet OS is doing building a powerful yet easily deployable platform to analyze sensor data to do everything from predicting more accurate weather forecasts to delivering offshore oil platform reports 80% faster.

Offshore Operator Bravante Delivers Data 80% Faster With Planet OS

Bravante's research vessel R/V Jean Charcot

Bravante’s research vessel R/V Jean Charcot

Planet OS is changing the way offshore operations are conducted in Brazil. Through a contract with the Brazilian offshore operator, Bravante, Planet OS has delivered an interactive, cloud-based reporting tool that helps Chevron, BP, Total, Quieroz Valdez and Premier Oil review local metocean conditions and environmental baseline survey data in near real-time. This solution is currently deployed and operational on an ongoing survey campaign off the coast of northern Brazil.

The Critical Role of IoT Data Integration in Building Big Data Applications

On February 5th I was in the Hague to give a talk at The Unmanned Systems Expo 2015. At the trade show, there was no shortage of drones: from agricultural to surveillance, land and air, small or big. It was clear this industry is just getting started, and the difficulty of building Big Data applications on data streams coming from devices is looking for ways to grow. What is missing?

From Racing Extinction to Conscious, Informed Decisions about the Oceans

Dr. Christopher W. Clark, Planet OS’s Chief Marine Scientist, who is a world renown bioacoustician and marine mammal expert, talks about his experience of being a part of Louie Psihoyos‘ eyeopening documentary Racing Extinction, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival at the end of January.

Racing Extinction Team at the Sundance Film Festival. (back row, from left to right):Olivia Ahnemann, Elon Musk, Leilani Munter, Chris Clark, Gina Papabeis, Travis Threlkel, Paul Hilton, John Behrens, Adrienne Hall. (front row, rom left to right): Shawn Heinrichs, Candace Crespi, Fisher Stevens, Senior Programmer at Sundance David Courier, Louie Psihoyos.

Last weekend, as a member of the cast, I participated in the premier of the feature documentary Racing Extinction at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The film, directed by Louie Psihoyos (director of the 2009 Oscar award winning Best Documentary, “The Cove”), is about the sixth great extinction event as a result of modern human activities during the present epoch referred to as the Anthropocene.

Planet OS Celebrates its 3rd Anniversary with an Innovation Award

Planet OS Product Engineering team in Tallinn, Estonia (Photo by Arno Mikkor)

Planet OS Product Engineering team in Tallinn, Estonia (Photo by Arno Mikkor)

Yesterday, Planet OS celebrated its 3rd anniversary. As one of the first startups focused on Big Data in Industrial IoT, Planet OS’s mission is to “index the real world”. The staggering growth of sensor deployments and fragmented nature of sensor data (locations, data types, formats and access protocols) makes it very difficult for governments and corporations to actually leverage their sensor networks. Without a means to quickly and efficiently utilize disparate datasets, the value of these assets is never fully realized. Planet OS helps its customers make the most of their data assets.