by Brian Hartz
Navionics celebrates 30 years in business this year, but instead of resting on its laurels, the company has taken steps to incorporate bold new innovations into its navigation technology. Gone are the days of navigating via paper charts, and if mapping companies like Navionics have their way, soon we’ll navigate using smartphones and tablets, which will not only sync with plotters but also transmit updated chart data continuously in real time to make boating safer for everyone.
At the Miami International Boat Show in February, Navionics founder and president Giuseppe Carnevali discussed its crowd-sourcing initiative that seeks to improve ICW chart data from Maine to Florida. The ICW’s bottom contours can shift as a result of hurricane seasons, strong tidal fluctuations, changing currents, and other acts of nature, as well as manmade changes such as construction and dredging. To address inaccuracies, Navionics conducts its own surveys with privately funded teams, and leverages its customers with a combination of two technologies: SonarCharts and Community Edits.
Navionics SonarCharts allow mariners to record and share their sonar logs while cruising, fishing or just motoring around. Collected data is uploaded to a massive repository of charting data where complex algorithms select the most reliable soundings and scrub them against other data collected in the area, producing an up-to-date chart. In addition, Navionics’ app allows users to contribute improvements using Community Edits. Stumble upon a wreck, a spill or some other hazard not currently available on your chart, and with a few taps you can add a marker and notes to instantly share it with the entire Navionics community. These edits also become part of the overall data collection effort, which should result in enhanced content and peace of mind for recreational boat owners, the company claims.