published: Thu, 07 Jan 2016
TeamSurv is an innovative project to community source and share navigational data. By installing one of the company’s data loggers to on-board navigation instruments, mariners are helping to improve the accuracy of coastal water information, by logging depth and position data whilst they are at sea, and uploading the data to the web for processing and display.
For sailors, knowing the depth of water beneath your boat is crucial – particularly to avoid running aground or damaging your hull.
The challenge is that less than 50% of Europe’s coastal waters are adequately surveyed, and in many parts of the world over 80% are totally unsurveyed. With the cost of professional hydrographic surveying in the region of €25,000 per square mile, investment tends to be focused on shipping lanes into and out of ports, with charts of other areas often displaying data collated over 150 years ago. But it is inshore, including estuaries and bays where the seabed is changing dramatically.
TeamSurv aims to recruit the 9 million seagoing ships and boats, to have them collect up-to-date information about what lies beneath the surface. By providing a small data logger to connect to on-board navigation systems, TeamSurv can collect and process the voyages of boats and build up a more detailed map. The data is then published online, and made available for use by other organisations such as hydrographic offices, nautical chart publishers, port and harbour authorities, oceanographers and offshore engineers.
TeamSurv was initially developed in the CoSuDEC EU FP7 research project by Smartcom Software and MPG. Since then it has been spun out into a start-up company, driven by marine cartographer and keen sailor Tim Thornton, and software engineer Monika Gotsova.
“With the support of ESNC the company has generated a significant amount of publicity on the BBC and other media,” says Tim Thornton. “This has raised our profile, resulting in more boats signing up to participate, and greater credibility from support agencies and potential partners.”
To date, TeamSurv has engaged almost 300 boats in the project, with funding secured for the next stage of product development and successful trials completed in the UK, France and the Baltic, and operations now expanding to the USA and South Pacific.
Since being awarded Runner Up in 2013, TeamSurv has also won a European Space Agency competition for business incubation at their UK site in Harwell.