ACCENTUATING THE POSITIVE
A high-tech, crowdsourced way to gather and use boating-safety statistics
Since forever, boating-safety statistics have focused on the negative: collisions, drownings, fires, operator inattention, excessive speed and more.
This procedure has been used to identify behavior that creates accidents and fatalities that lead to education and regulation forbidding or dissuading boaters from engaging in those behaviors.
SOBOS (SelfReported On-the- Water Boat Operator Survey), a new app from the National
Safe Boating Council and East Carolina University for iOS and Android, intends to invert that paradigm. Instead of cataloging bad behavior, SOBOS collects survey data from boaters who act safely. It provides information about non-accident-based recreational boaters. The goal is to test the efficacy of crowdsourcing recreational boating data. It is an evidence-based public health approach to reducing boating accidents.
The SOBOS mobile app asks boaters to fill out a short survey that permits the app to track a span of their next outing.
Both the anonymous survey and anonymous on-water data points are then linked to a stacked waypoint.
With this, SOBOS builds a situational-awareness network that enables reports such as floating debris, harbor congestion, broken-down boats and more (similar to the Waze app for motorists).
While SOBOS launches now, situational-awareness tools are planned for 2019. As described to me by Ernest G. Marshburn, Ph.D., director and senior research scientist, these situational-awareness tools would work similar to the way cautions and heavy-traffic alerts currently appear on mobile traffic-mapping apps. As boaters approach an area, accident and safety alerts would appear on the screen.
Dr. Marshburn assured me that data collected by SOBOS is kept anonymous and SOBOS is only interested in enhanced recreational boating safety.
You can contact SOBOS by visiting sobos.org or by scanning the tag on this page. Boating will be conducting on-water testing of SOBOS once the situational-awareness tools become available. Look for that story and more updates in the coming months.