What's New in Hydrographic Survey

The hydrographic survey market is evolving. The changes and new technologies that the industry went without for so long are now coming in waves and prices of GNSS technology are dropping due to technological advancements and maturity of the products themselves. In fact, in North America, many universities are now able to conduct research without getting large grants or getting the backing of a corporate sponsor, whereas in years past it was impossible to do so without the third party financial backing.

What is Hydrographic Surveying?

Hydrographic surveying is the science of mapping the depth and floor of bodies of water. Surveyors in this industry rely on GNSS products to precisely determine their exact location because their work requires them to develop a deep knowledge of what is under the water’s surface. As depth and floor configuration can be an extreme danger in regards to marine navigation and knowledge of the floor make-up must be known for projects involving anchoring, cable routing, structure construction, dredging, and drilling, knowing precise location is a must. If a surveyor maps a particular location for dredging, but gives coordinates that are even a few meters off, this could be disastrous for the project – potentially wasting time, money, and resources. Or, if your client is in the oil and gas industry, precise location is important for property claims, drilling rights, and spill aversion.

What Challenges is the Hydrographic Survey Market Facing?

However, with all of the new tech available to the hydrographic survey market, there are still a lot of challenges for those in the industry to overcome. For those working directly in the market as hydrographers, the oil and gas slump is beginning to make it more difficult to find work. Add on inflating operating costs, businesses are willing to pay less than ever before. Hydrographers are having to fight bidding wars for business and figure out ways to keep their own costs down.

Businesses working to sell products to those in hydrographic survey are finding the market is densely packed. New and established businesses alike have to create something completely new and innovative to even make a ripple let alone gain industry-wide adoption.

Furthermore, those on both sides of the industry are finding it harder and harder to improve upon the existing technology and work that’s been done. Upgrading to new tech that has basically the same capabilities as the old is unrealistic at best and expensive at worst for hydrographers. For those on the tech side, spending millions in R&D to conclude at basically the same point is also unrealistic.

How is the Industry Evolving?

As the industry continues to change, more focus will be placed on collecting data from under the water through the medium of sound. Commonly used tools such as single beam and multi-beam echosounders (which function like SONAR, pushing out beams of sound and receiving a reply when they bounce off of solid objects which is then used to map an image) are going to need to become more precise and lower cost.

Additionally, while the oil and gas slump may be making it more difficult for hydrographers to find work, high-precision accuracy for completed jobs is becoming exponentially more crucial every year. Ever-increasing international travel and trade has created a need for improved recovery abilities, which makes understanding how the composition and makeup of the ocean floor has changed over time a necessity. Naval military exercises incorporating multiple nations have created a need for a complete understanding of where different types of surface ships and submarines can operate together safely. Technological advances and updates, such as Facebook and Microsoft’s MAREA -- the new, state-of-the-art subsea cable that will run across the Atlantic -- require a full understanding of where technology can be placed without issues such as competing country claims over sea-space and dangers from earthquakes. In this day and age, there is no room for error.

Where Does Hemisphere GNSS Come In?

As mentioned earlier, accurate positioning data is crucial to the success of a hydrographic survey. Without knowing your exact location, the data you gather from every other source is effectively useless.

That’s why Hemisphere GNSS strives to bring industry-leading, global GNSS corrections to everyone in the hydrographic survey industry. With Atlas® GNSS Global Corrections Service, corrections can be delivered via L-band satellites or the internet with accuracies ranging from meter to sub-decimeter levels.

Atlas brings global corrections to your business, no matter your budget. While many global corrections services can cost up to $95,000 for a year of service, Atlas costs less than fraction and can be tailored to your business’s specific needs, allowing your bottom line some breathing room.

For more information, reach out to one of our product specialists.