ACCENTUATING THE POS­I­TIVE

A high-tech, crowd­sourced way to gather and use boat­ing-safety sta­tis­tics

Boating - - BOAT DOCTOR - —Kevin Falvey

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.

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