DOAG: MARINE WEATHER OBSERVATIONS USING SMARTPHONES



April 17, 2019

MARINE WEATHER OBSERVATIONS USING SMARTPHONES

Kristin Russo, Bureau of Aquaculture

 

The Department of Agriculture (DoAg)’s Bureau of Aquaculture is currently testing a new smartphone app that could make Connecticut’s nearshore waters safer for boaters.

The app would allow people on the water to observe, record, and share current conditions with others in real time.

Development of the app is being funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in an effort to expand records in waters that are closer to shore than existing NOAA buoys.

While information the offshore buoys collect is helpful, it is not as useful to boaters who stay near shore because conditions can vary greatly from just offshore to mid-Long Island Sound.

The goal of the app is to enhance information available to nearshore boaters. The current information available for conditions of nearshore waters is not always necessarily complete or accurate for the area, since most buoys are several miles off shore.

The majority of recreational boating occurs in nearshore waters. Providing an app that will allow boaters to upload their own information about current conditions and check conditions before heading out will be a valuable tool for boaters.

The app was created by Creare LLC, an engineering research and development company out of Hanover, New Hampshire.

Using the app is very simple. There are two different modes of entering information: passive and manual.

When the user first gets on the boat, they make a manual observation of the conditions, such as temperature, wind speed and direction, water temperature, wave height, cloud type, cloud height, visibility, and precipitation.

The user can also take a picture of the current area, which will be geotagged with the location of the observation. A manual observation is also typically made at the end of the run.

During a passive observation, the user simply opens the app to the “Record” tab and presses start. The phone is then set down in a safe location on the boat and passively records observations such as wave height, wave period, speed, temperature, pressure, and acceleration.

Once all of the data are collected, they are mapped and users can go to the website to see their data on the map. Different parameters can be selected and viewed on the map.

The current version of the app also has a news feed on the home page which shows information gathered by other users in the area.

Due to the nature of the work, DoAg boating staff are frequently out on the water and all DoAg boating activities are considered nearshore boating. This makes DoAg boating staff a good candidate for testing the app.

Currently, DoAg is the only party testing the app in the area, so all observations that come up in the news feed have been gathered by DoAg staff.

For more information about the app go to https://weathercitizen.org.