Local Non-Profit Uses Technology To Map Out Georgia Rivers

A local non-profit is looking to give Georgia’s rivers the digital treatment.

Georgia River Network is partnering with the company Earthviews to create 360-degree maps of Georgia’s waterways.

Since February, GRN has mapped out 300 miles of Georgia’s rivers using GoPro Camera kits supplied by Earthviews.

“There’s 70,000 miles of rivers and streams in Georgia, so it’s a drop in the bucket,” says GRN’s Paddle Georgia Coordinator, Joe Cook. “But before the end of the year, we’ll have four to five hundred miles of rivers documented in this Google Street View style.”

The GoPro Cameras are programmed to take photos every 10 seconds. Over the course of a trip, the cameras can take anywhere from 1,000-2,000 images. These images are then stitched together using specialized software to create a 360-degree view of the scene.

The Google Street View style photos will join Earthview’s collection of online waterway maps — and be used to develop a smartphone application that highlights local points of interest and potential hazards.

Earthview’s president, Brian Footen, says his partnership with the mapping company Esri allows him to offer maps with data features beyond what Google Street View currently provides.

“Our main goal is to fill the gaps in the maps,” says Footen. “Google isn’t mapping these waterways all over the world, and no one else really is.”

Footen and Cook hope that the ongoing project will benefit conservationists and recreational paddlers alike.

“When people are using rivers and appreciating our rivers, then they’re going to be a lot more likely to take steps to protect those rivers,” says Cook.