York researchers are mapping Canada’s waterways, improving sea traffic

Two professors out of York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering are taking an innovative approach to map the waterways of northern Canada.

photo of Costas Armenakis

Costas Armenakis

Geomatics Engineering Professors Costas Armenakis and Mojgan Jadidi, in the Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering, have introducing crowd-sourced data collection in an effort to map the waterways.

The mapping effort includes a focus on underwater depth which is important for sea traffic and environmental impacts. As the area is very large, the mapping will require a massive effort.

As part of the Canadian Ocean Mapping Research and Education Network (COMREN) Armenakis and Jadidi are collaborating with the Centre Interdisciplinaire pour le Développement de la Cartographie des Océans (CIDCO) and the University of New Brunswick in working with Aboriginal communities to gather data using various sensors, such as GPS and underwater depth sensors.

Mojgan Jadidi

Mojgan Jadidi

The data collection will be done during regular activities, such as fishing trips.

The local communities will also be involved in the discussions on how the new knowledge will be managed, shared and integrated into products that individuals, communities and businesses can use. The idea is to integrate, not replace, Inuit knowledge about northern sea conditions and safety at sea.

The goal is not only to gather the data, but also to learn how to best collect, process, and share crowd-sourced water depth data.

As a result, this will enable the Northern communities to build capacity, use the technology, and provide trusted data to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, namely the Canadian Hydrographic Service. The approach can be extended through the north to other regions of the world, says Armenakis.

The project is funded by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

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