Beta test of crowdsourced bathymetry holds promise for improving U.S. nautical charts

This a big leap forward in helping to improve chart accuracy, Some charting software vendors will be adding the ability for boaters to enable the saving of GPS and depth information into a database – the data is anonymous with no boat specific identification information. But the data will be used to help find areas where the charted depth is not the same as what boaters are seeing, NOAA can then send a survey party out to survey the area and correct the chart.

We are on the verge of acquiring a significant new source of data to improve NOAA nautical charts, thanks to an enthusiastic industry and mariners equipped with new technology.

By Lt. Adam Reed, Integrated Oceans and Coastal Mapping (IOCM) Assistant Coordinator

The United States has about 3,400,000 square nautical miles of water within our coastal and Great Lakes jurisdiction. Coast Survey, who is responsible for charting that vast area, averages about 3,000 square nautical miles of hydrographic surveying each year. The data collected by those surveys update over a thousand NOAA charts. However, hydrographic surveys are expensive and laborious, and so Coast Survey directs them toward the highest priority sites, which leaves many coastal areas without updates for many years.

Coast Survey may soon get new sources of information, provided voluntarily by mariners, which will alert cartographers to areas where shoaling and other changes to the seafloor have made the chart inaccurate.


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2 Responses to Beta test of crowdsourced bathymetry holds promise for improving U.S. nautical charts

    • captnmike says:

      Hopefully just an oversight that will be corrected soon with the credits. In you link you mention the liability in case of an error – NOAA by using the data as a help to send their own survey crews out to resurvey an area should help to address that issue with the NOAA charts as it will still be based on their own data.

      I know some current and retired NOAA people – and to say they care about their job and take pride in their work is an understatement. So I have a lot of faith in NOAA – not perfect but they are moving forward all the time

      Thanks for dropping by

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