Streamline-GEO mapping software cuts costs for bathymetry surveys

By on October 30, 2013

Streamline-GEO mapping software

For groups who would like to do projects involving bathymetry (the underwater equivalent of topography) and water quality, but can’t afford the hefty price tag of many commercial survey systems, there’s a more cost-effective option: Streamline-GEO mapping software.

Tom Opishinski began developing the software following years of experience as an ocean engineer. He is owner of the company that sells Streamline-GEO, Interactive Oceanographics.

“The idea for Streamline-GEO came from working with environmental companies going back to the ‘90s. We’d have a project to map bathymetry or maybe a thermal or wastewater outfall and, in each case, the common equipment would be a GPS,” said Opishinski. “Having created the interface for so many systems, I saw that this was the making of a good product. GPS and echo sounders followed a standard interface communication protocol allowing a single interface to support many GPS and sounder models. The water quality sensors didn’t have a standardized interface but the process to connect and acquire data from the sensors in real time was similar.”

The combination of water quality sensors, echo sounder, GPS and a computer into a user-friendly data collection package lets most anyone map underwater areas. After installing the software on a Windows PC, sensors connect directly to the computer’s serial or USB ports.

A Zodiac inflatable boat was used for a Delaware River bathymetric survey to allow
access to the shallow waters. An RTK GPS system was used for GPS positions.

Sometimes adapters are needed because serial ports are no longer included on computers, Opishinski says.  “Once you get through the initial setup of the adapters, you’re good to go and can connect to commonly used sensors such as YSI sondes, echosounders, or Turner Designs MultiSensors or fluorometers. The user interface to control the instruments is a simple module that’s very similar to operating a DVD player,” said Opishinski.

Common applications for the software include bathymetric mapping and also simultaneous mapping of the water’s physical characteristics with the sensors installed on the customer’s YSI or Turner instruments.

“The goal was to make the process simple for the user, simple to do what you wanted to do,” said Opishinski. “It’s even possible to walk a shoreline with a GPS connected to a laptop and map the shoreline.”

The software can be set up on laptops or tablet PCs such as a Trimble YUMA. Opishinski has seen groups use it in a wide array of vessel types, even from kayaks and inflatable boats. There are also real-time, quality control checks of data. “For example, a quality indicator is included with each GPS position, and, if the GPS position is invalid, it will blank the sample automatically, thereby saving time and effort when post-processing the data,” said Opishinski.

Bathymetric sounding in the Delaware River overlayed on a Google map

Viewing project information is segmented into three screens. The first is an overview screen where maps and data are displayed. The vessel position and track is shown on the map with markers, color-coded to show the concentration of a defined parameter, like dissolved oxygen. The second is a set of time-series charts that update in real time to show data as it is acquired. The last shows raw data in tabular (text) format.

Data are synchronized as acquired and saved in two different formats. One is a time-series format that can be analyzed in Streamline-GEO or exported for analysis in other software.  The second format is a standard vector-based GIS file (Shapefile) that may be opened in ArcGIS or ArcInfo software, developed by ESRI, and other GIS software for direct spatial mapping and analysis.

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