Seeing the World, Through The Eyes of Recreational Boaters

Self-Reported On-Water Boat Operator Survey (SOBOS)

The SOBOS app is now available!

You can download it now from the App Store™ and Google Play™

For Any Type of Recreational Boater, from Powerboats to Human Powered Craft

About SOBOS

SOBOS is an iOS and Android mobile app, providing information about normal, non-accident based recreational boaters designed to reduce recreational boating accidents. The goal is to test the efficacy of crowdsourcing recreational boating data as an evidence-based public health approach to reducing boating accidents.

The SOBOS mobile app asks boaters to fill out a short survey that permits the app to track a span of their next on- water excursion. Both the anonymous survey and anonymous on-water data points are then linked to each on-water waypoint.

Participant support will help us:

  1. Support a public health and service project designed to reduce recreational boating accidents and fatalities by examining non-accident based boater characteristics.
  2. Locate anonymous SOBOS survey data at “real” on-water boating locations so that non-accident data can be compared to and analyzed with accident data.
  3. Build a “situational awareness” boater network that enables reports such as floating debris, harbor congestion, broken down boat, and more (similar to the Waze app).

The SOBOS mobile app includes more data than simple waypoints tracked by traditional chart plotters. It is stacked with the day, time, latitude/longitude, and speed of the boat coupled with the anonymous on-water survey. Future SOBOS updates will share this anonymous information with other SOBOS participants to alert of activity or hazards along the boat route.

SOBOS has the potential to make on-water recreational boating safer for both family and friends through its evidence-based public health approach. It provides commercial, governmental, and university partners access to anonymous, non-accident-based on-water recreational boater data to study normal geospatial-temporal boating patterns, actuarial research, or boating accident research when compared to local recreational boating accidents.

Current recreational boating network members included the National Safe Boating Council, American Canoe Association, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Marine Manufacturers Association, US Sailing, National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, U.S. Power Squadrons, Boy Scouts of America, BoatUS, Geico, Brunswick Corporation, Grady White Boats, SeaTow Foundation, National Boating Federation, and others.

SOBOS launched in the iOS App and Google Play stores May 2018. Situational awareness tool additions are planned for 2019.

SOBOS: A Public Health Approach to Collecting Recreational Boating Data

  • Review marine rules and regulations that focus on local rather than national needs.
  • Consider whether new boating tech (e.g., collision avoidance systems) could be used to reduce accident risks.
  • Focus on specific boat operator behaviors where modification could lower overall risk factors.
  • Provide insight into safe and non-safe boat operator habits and behaviors.
  • Test a crowdsource-based alternative to traditional boater surveys through the SOBOS iOS and Android Mobile App.

To participate, scan the following QR code or visit www.sobos.org.

How to Participate

Interested in learning more? Please visit www.SOBOS.org and take a short survey. The survey concludes with the opt-in question to participate in a SOBOS on-water anonymous data collection (mobile data limited to: date, time, latitude/ longitude, boat speed, altitude, and bearing) as follows:

Check here if you would be willing to participate in the On-Water component of this project. Your contribution will remain anonymous. Mobile data "limited to": Date, Time, Latitude/Longitude, Boat Speed, Altitude, and Bearing.

Yes, I would consider participating in the On-Water data capture pilot test - Map My Boat Ride (additional information below)
No, I would prefer not to participate in the On-Water part of this survey and skip to end of survey

Special Note

You will receive several notifications, specify “Allow” on each to enable data collection, otherwise SOBOS will not operate properly.


During an on-water boating trip, permit SOBOS to capture the Date, Time, Latitude/Longitude, Boat Speed, Altitude, and Bearing during your trip. This capture is anonymous and de-identified. Altitude is included as a distinguishing characteristic pertaining to inland boating participants.

In the SOBOS App; (Android and iOS):

  1. To start, go to the “Current Trip Screen”, press the Start Trip button in SOBOS, during an on-water boating trip.
    • If there are no current trips (i.e., a trip not started), select start a new trip.
    • Recording… is displayed when data capture is active.
    • The app will timeout in 5 hours unless the user selects a prompted question to extend tracking.
  2. To stop trip, go to the “Current Trip Screen”, press the Stop Trip in SOBOS and data will no longer be collected.
    • SOBOS permits offline use of data (i.e., Map My Boat Ride) by survey participants to examine their own data.

Innovative Strategies for Capturing Recreational Boating Demographics

Media Downloads

Video Presentations

Promotional Material

SOBOS Partners