We are ex-skippers, ex-navigation-software-developers, ex-leisure-boaters and ex-entrepreneurs. We used to make software for the inland navigation business for many decades. After having sold NoorderSoft and PC-Navigo (our company and its navigation software), we have not lost interest in collecting and maintaining (geo) data of the waterways; we think we can still contribute to make these data easily accessible for boaters and waterway-users.
A project on autonomous navigation led to a whole new data collection method. As a test area we chose the (narrowboat) canals of the British and Irish waterways. All objects relevant for navigation (such as bridges, locks, moorings, junctions, harbours and marinas, canal tunnels, aqueducts a.s.o.) were digitised within their context. When the job was done, almost 20.000 records appeared to have found their way into the extremely detailed database of the waterways (with a precision of ONE METER, three feet!) that contains ALL bridges, ALL locks and ALL other relevant waterway items.
Using as much existing open source technology as possible (functions of Google Maps, Google Earth, Wikipedia Commons, etc.) and using publicly available data (including soms data from CRT, Waterways Ireland and Scottish Canals) whenever available. Regrettably, more data were unavailable than available, and sometimes available data were NOT shared, for reasons that have not become clear.