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Coast Guardsman honored for boater warning system

Cmdr. Dan Shipman, recreational boating safety specialist for the 13th Coast Guard District, received an innovation award for developing a coastal bar warning and information system in all harbors on the Oregon and Washington coasts.

Shipman implemented the system to provide boaters with real-time access to information about coastal bar conditions.

Before the innovation, it was difficult to warn boaters about rapidly changing conditions, resulting in boaters unwittingly putting themselves in dangerous situations and in “significant loss of life,” according to Boat Ed. Shipman’s warning and information system uses computers, smartphones and low-power AM radio technology to broadcast safety information in nearly real time.

“This system is a proactive approach capable of disseminating important updates regarding coastal conditions,” Shipman said in a statement. “Too many times boaters unknowingly entered hazardous conditions; there’s simply no excuse for that lack of communication in this day and age.”

The Innovations Award, which is sponsored by Kalkomey Enterprises Inc., parent company of Boat Ed, was presented to Shipman Sept. 17 at a conference of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

“NASBLA and Boat Ed established the Innovations Award as a way to recognize and bring more visibility to programs or projects that use new approaches to encourage safe boating,” Boat Ed product development vice president Cindy Kalkomey said in a statement. “Dan isn’t the only person who should be proud of his hard work, either. We had many applicants who all deserve a round of applause for their hard work in bettering boating safety with their programs.”

Since the system was implemented, the number of phone and VHF radio calls has decreased by about 30 percent. The number of calls is expected to further decrease as use of the system becomes more widespread, especially with the addition of the Web-based portion in 2012.

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