Hurricane Matthew ruled news headlines earlier this month, as residents of the southeast braced for flooding, severe wind, power outages, and everything else that comes with a Category 5 storm. While the headlines seems to have returned to business as usual, boaters and marine industry professionals know that the Hurricane Matthew "story" is far from over – as we've seen clearly evidenced by the number of boaters still visiting the Dockwa Marina & Waterways Damage Report every day.
How did the Dockwa Marina & Waterways Damage Report come to be? As Matthew made its way up the coast and we scoured the web to piece together an overview of the storm's impact, we recognized an opportunity to help our community. The Dockwa team is made up of boaters, but as a software company we are uniquely positioned to help develop online boater tools: So our team of engineers got to work creating a way for boaters and marinas to share, in one central location, the latest updates on their waterways.
Building New Boating Technology On-the-fly
We worked closely with ActiveCaptain to import much of the data they'd received from boaters via their Facebook page. We reached out to our partner marinas, and continued to scour the web. Within 24 hours we'd created an interactive & crowd-sourced compilation of information on more than 200 marinas and waterways. What's more, this new resource empowered every boater to share back any information they found via the online form.
The Marina & Waterway Damage Report went live on the morning of October 10, and has since had nearly 20,000 visits from boaters along the coast submitting information and using the page to plan their routes. Ryan from our Support team continued to update the form an average of 5 times a day.
Boaters and marinas continue to contribute to this one-stop-shop for the most up-to-date boating information on Hurricane Matthew. BoatUS, Trade Only Today, Cruising Compass, and other boater media outlets shared the report with their boaters, and we're extremely grateful to them for helping get the word out.
Crowd-Sourcing's Finest Hour
An email update from ActiveCaptain's Jeff Siegel brought home what creating our Marina & Waterways Damage Report meant to us. Dockwa is, at its heart, about giving back to our boating community; our technology is built by boaters for boaters, and "Life's Better Boating," but only if we feel safe on the water. All who heeded the call to send in updates showed us the boating community's true colors, and it was indeed one of the finest hours we've seen in our time in this industry.
We appreciated Jeff's email so much that we're sharing it here, in its entirety.
Crowd-Sourcing's Finest Hour
A decade of software development. A million and a half dedicated users. A community filled with technology savvy cruisers using some of the 600 different apps and websites available to view and enter data.
When a crisis strikes, government resources are prioritized. With the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew, the commercial and military ports have the major attention. Perhaps there will be surveying and reporting of the waterways and the pathways we need to get through. But we can do it ourselves. And we can do it better.
After the storm cleared, social media was alive with information, pictures, and videos of the destruction. Before the sun came out after the clouds cleared, data was already streaming into our databases. It starts with marinas, boat yards, and commercial facilities because owners and managers can provide first-hand, confirmed information.
We soon realized that it was important to pull out the Matthew-related information to assist all those boaters just now starting to move south along the US ICW. Since we're underway ourselves, we felt the issues firsthand - where is it safe to go? What facilities will be available? Where is there fuel? What inlets are safe to pass? Which bridges are
These and many more questions cannot be answered by any company or group of individuals. But the community can answer them all. Together.
To better organize the hurricane data, we got together with Dockwa to create a status and reporting page for all Hurricane Matthew information. At first, it's filled with marina info. But the bridges, inlets, and hazards are coming now as a few people start venturing out and reporting their experiences. Hundreds of items were provided from
the ActiveCaptain database and Facebook group. Dockwa wrote to every marina in the effected areas. If a marina didn't respond or didn't receive the email, they were called. They continue to be called as power and communications return.
All new hazard comments are now being manually reviewed to join the status page. They'll be part of ActiveCaptain but will also be pulled out to create one Hurricane Matthew status page.
The status and reporting page can be found here.
Bookmark that page if you're cruising the US east coast this season. Refer to it as part of your planning process.
If you have additional information, even if a facility is already listed, add it to the report using the quick entry fields at the top. Refresh the page if you have multiple items to enter. This includes a status of "OK" if there was no damage and a marina is open for business as normal. We need to know those places too.
Marinas - add your own data to the page or make sure the listed data is correct. Update the information as it changes.
As you move along the waterway, write a comment on every hazard you pass if there hasn't been an update since October 10th. Also add a new comment if there is something else about the hazard that hasn't been mentioned. Error on the side of providing more information - we'll edit to keep the resulting knowledge base useful. Add new hazards on anything that seems different from the charts.
Together, we'll get through this. Together, we'll all continue our adventures in a safe way.
This is crowd-sourcing's finest hour.
A huge thank you to Jeff & Karen Siegel of ActiveCaptain for their dedication to bettering the boating community, in particular in its time of peril. Thank you to all who have contributed to this report or shared it with others, and to all who have assisted with Hurricane Matthew relief and repair efforts. Please continue to send reports, and support marinas as they repair the damage Matthew caused.
– The Team at Dockwa
By: Becky Pineo
Published on 10/18/16 4:07 PM