Believe it or not, we don't know how deep large parts of the ocean off the British coast really are, and this is obviously not a good thing for the many sailors who cruise around those waters. A new project funded by the European Community is using technology to solve this problem — technology and lots of boats.
Teamsurv is providing any boat that's willing to participate with little data loggers; these will measure the depth of the ocean wherever the boats then travel. This crowdsourced approach stands to do the same job — one that once required a long chain with an anchor — in only a fraction of the time and with much less effort. All the data collected by the project is then put online and shared with anyone who wants it.
Of course, measuring the depth of the water is just the first step in actually mapping out the ocean floor — but that project's being crowdsourced now, too. Google's been collecting data about the seafloor for years now, and has about 6 per cent of the total area mapped. Their interactive map uses data from over 500 ship cruises provided by Columbia University. You can literally use Google Earth to dive underwater in this area and explore the ocean floor. It's fun for you, but eventually, this kind of thing might save a sailor's life. [BBC]