The Viability of Crowdsourced Bathymetry for Authoritative Use

TitleThe Viability of Crowdsourced Bathymetry for Authoritative Use
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
AuthorsHoy, S, Calder, BR
Conference NameU.S. Hydrographic Conference (US HYDRO)
Conference DatesMarch 19-21
PublisherThe Hydrographic Society of America
Conference LocationBiloxi, MS
KeywordsCrowdsourced Bathymetry, CSB, hydrography


Crowdsourced bathymetry (CSB) is increasingly common amongst private organizations that provide navigational products to mariners (e.g., Olex, Navionics, and TeamSurv), prompting the desire among hydrographic offices to integrate CSB into the authoritative charting pipeline. However, questions of data quality along with the legal responsibility to provide soundings safe for navigation have led to a five-year debate on the role CSB can and should play in official practices. Recently, both local and international hydrographic communities have progressed with CSB, including the production of an international guidance document, establishment of the IHO/DCDB CSB database, and nascent integration of CSB data into some hydrographic workflows. However, despite forward momentum, consensus on the utility of CSB for authoritative purposes has yet to be reached. This study aims to provide clarity on the viability of authoritative CSB by examining four fundamental components: the crowd (capability and motivation), the data (accuracy and, subsequently, application), the economics (cost vs. reward), and ultimately, the responsibility of hydrographic offices. The culmination of these investigations demonstrates that while CSB is unable to meet charting standards (and is therefore most suited for ancillary tasks e.g., survey prioritization and change detection), hydrographic offices have a responsibility to report dangers to navigation to the mariner and, therefore, must incorporate CSB into the chart. A recommended model for how to accomplish this is presented. 

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