Crowd sourcing coastal water navigational data
We’ve written a number of posts over the last couple of years on crowd sourced data collection initiatives, all of which have been land-based or involved aerial data (for example, UAV Imagery). The TeamSurv project takes crowd sourced data collection out to sea, enlisting the help of mariners to produce better maps and charts of coastal waters, where the amount of detailed survey data in many countries is low. Project participants will either receive a data logger to use with their existing equipment or be able to load data directly from their own navigation systems.
The data collected from a variety of volunteer vessels include bathymetry, surface currents, sea surface temperature and wind data. Once processed the marine GIS data sets are to be made available to any organisation or authority with an interest in hydrographic data (chart publishers, oceanographers and so on). The charts are available to download from the TeamSurv web site in shapefile format, and the site promises that other formats will be supported soon.
Unfortunately the data are not being made available in the public domain. The conditions of use include the charts are for personal use only and they may not be distributed or reproduced for commercial or non-commercial purposes without written consent. Although this seems contrary to the ethos of crowd sourcing, given the amount of post-collection cleaning and correction the data are subject to, it is perhaps understandable that some restrictions on their use should be imposed. Is it better to have unrestricted access to a lot of data of variable quality, or are some restrictions a price worth paying if the quality of the data can be guaranteed?