Social networking on your plotter

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A new mapping technology from Navico serves as another example of the industry’s growing effort to make the boating experience mobile, with data that can be taken to and from the boat and disseminated through social networking.

In February, Navico was introducing its Insight Genesis Social Mapping Layer technology at the Miami International Boat Show. “It is the place for Genesis subscribers to get the best of all the data that Navico is able to provide,” says Shane Coloney, Navico product manager of content and cartography.

Customers who have an Insight Genesis account ($99 annually) not only gain access to all of the bathymetric data from Navico’s Lake and Nautic Insight charts in the United States, but also user-submitted data that are not kept private, Coloney says. Customers can also tap into a base layer of contour data from 140 countries, thanks to a collaboration with Jeppesen, makers of C-MAP, he adds.

The community data consist of sonar logs from users of Lowrance, Simrad NS and B&G Zeus series plotters. The free basic Insight Genesis service allows users to upload sonar logs, each as much as two hours long, for online creation and viewing of maps that depict contours and depth soundings with shading, as well as automatic tidal adjustments.

With an annual subscription, customers can upload as many sonar logs (each up to four hours) as they want, and view charts online or save maps to an SD card for use on as many as four compatible Lowrance, Simrad and B&G displays. Now they can share that information through the Insight Genesis social mapping layer, which is accessed by a tab on the screen in the sonar-log view. “You can not only merge your own logs or recordings of trips into one view, but you can add another social mapping layer from outside sources, including your fellow boaters,” says Coloney.

New subscribers will be greeted with Insight Genesis U.S. bathymetric data within the social layer. “We didn’t want people to join Genesis and go to the social layer and find it empty,” Coloney says.

That would be unsocial, so to speak, so Navico has “prepopulated [the layer] with all of our available bathymetric data,” Coloney says. “It’ll help kick-start the service for them.”

This is not “cutting-edge technology,” says Leif Ottosson, Navico CEO, “but it has not been used in a marine environment. We are just adopting it for the marine environment.”

In addition to securely storing sonar logs, maps, and trip and waypoint data, Genesis users can adjust contour intervals, merge multiple uploads, overlay bottom hardness and vegetation outline layers, and analyze changes over multiple recordings. All of it is accessible from any Internet-connected device. The subscription can be purchased online at insightstore.navico.com or at retail stores such as Cabela’s.

Navico is not releasing subscriber details, but Coloney says, “We have thousands of acres of sonar logs being uploaded monthly and are active in over 140 countries, including countries in North America, Europe, Africa and the Pacific Rim, including Australia and New Zealand.”

Navico is seeing 40 percent growth per month in user data submitted to the service, and about 60 percent of the logs submitted are not marked private, meaning they are eligible to be used in the social mapping layer, Coloney says.

Insight Genesis and its new social mapping tool give boaters the freedom to participate in their passion during the offseason or any time they’re away from their vessel. “It’s a great way to extend the boating season,” Coloney says.

This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue.

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