Applications / Benefits and Limitations

Like all survey methods, crowd sourced bathymetry has distinct benefits, as well as its own limitations, and these should be considered when deciding if it is the right tool for the job.


Cost: With no need for professional staff or expensive equipment in the field, costs are low compared to a conventional survey - but not free as it takes effort to recruit and retain the crowd, as well as supplying them with logging equipment, and storing and processing the data

Continuous resurvey: Once a crowd is active in a region, they effectively provide a continuous resurvey, so changes in depths can be picked up quickly

Community engagement: the maritime community can see the benefits of their efforts, and become more engaged in their environment


Depth: small craft depth sounders only work up to about 100m, and ship depth sounders up to about 2000m. Depths beyond this  are restricted to survey vessels and some deep sea fishing vessels.

Time: it takes time to build up good data coverage in an area, though accuracy and confidence in the results increases with the data density

Crowds: there need to be sufficient boats in the area that can be recruited to gather data, whether commercial ships, leisure craft, workboats or fishing boats

Accuracy and resolution: It will never meet IHO Order 1A or Special Order, but it will easily meet Order 2, and as more data builds up it can meet Order 1B.