A fun story about an interesting project being developed to provide a version of street view, only for rivers. From the story on knkx, “‘FishViews’ Mapping Tool Provides Virtual tours Of Local Rivers” which announced they had “…just finished mapping its sixth Northwest river, the Stillaguamish. Other tours include Lake Washington, Lake Union, Shilshole Bay and the Locks. They’re all enabled for virtual reality headsets and you can cruise along at your preferred speed, or zoom around the panoramic images with your cursor, like you might on Google. You can even take a peek underwater. There’s definitely a “gee whiz” factor.”
From their site, FishViews aims to explore waterways and waterway data with virtual reality tours, but they also have a ton of other practical uses. Focus areas at this point include Seattle area and some more remote locations in the Cascade Range and Olympic Pennisula, including their first, the somehwhat recently dam-free Elwha River (seen in the header above). Additionally zones in Texas around San Antonio and Houston have also been mapped by the FishViews team. You can access via guess account, or sign up for full access to some of the info – and other than having to sign in over and over again, I’d highly recommend losing a few hours, as it’s a lot of fun.
The interface is powered through ESRI storymap format, so has a pretty intuitive user experience of selecting through map icons or on a slider, with the ability to search as well. Lots of these early maps focus around the Seattle. One worth checking out is the Lower Duwamish, which encompasses the lower 12 miles of the Green River drainage, now so manipulated it lost its designation as a river and is now only “known as the Duwamish Waterway”. Each ‘tour’ has a bit of introductory info.
Probably few have the chance to boat the 12 mile stretch of the Duwamish, and it’s telling to tour the edges and discover the massive industrialization of the entire shoreline.
And also the moments of sublime beauty, which are reflected in a similar fashion to this previous post on the Duwamish River from the book ‘Once and Future River’, such as what may be the longest waterfront facade without a window, to the industrial beauty inherent in this context.
The access to metrics is sort of an interesting take, with a variety of info available in a pop-up, such as resistivity and conductivity, dissolved solids, temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen, as seen below for the Duwamish (at least when this data was being collected).
A few more shots, including the area connecting the Ship Canal to Lake Union.
And for smaller lakes, a nice coverage around the shoreline of Green Lake – also showing, similar to the beauty of Street View in capturing art – there’s some amazing shots of these aquatic resources as well.
In Portland area, they done an initial mapping of the Willamette, which is a nice tour around the city. An option as well to have the scene data in the lower corner also provides some context – but it drives a lot like Street View.
The ability to animate by linking the frames together is not a terribly enjoyable experience – although you can adjust frame rate. Think along the lines of a boat ride with a queasy stomach,but is a nice way to tour through a route to see what it holds. A view of the northern section of the Willamette shows this in action.
The underwater view is probably a lot more interesting in shallow water rivers and creeks, but pretty much looks a lot like this in both Portland and Seattle.
Although I was secretly hoping for robot fish, the technology for FishView’s capture technology is similar to information gathering for Street View, with a similar 360 camera rig, along with a variety of other sensors.
While the cameras are catching the views up top, they are employing some selective sub-surface cameras, as well as customized data logging equipment. Their process also does surveying and “…collects data below the surface. We deploy leading edge sonar technology for mapping, imaging, and exploring underwater. We use EPA standards for detailed water quality assessments and HD photography for below the surface insights. All tailored to our Virtual Reality Platform.”
The company also provides these services, per their site: “FishViews offers interactive 360° virtual tours and virtual reality for aquatic resource management. We incorporate a wide variety of hydrologic survey methods in order to produce a personalized, high-quality presentation that works specifically for your waterway data survey needs. From a stand alone 360° panoramic tour, to a comprehensive virtual reality model of an entire waterway, we create virtual platforms giving hydrologic data a home, complete with a custom-designed user interface. Our individual approach will ensure all your hydrologic survey requirements are met.”
The virtual reality component also sounds interesting, with access via phone based or immersive VR goggles – probably instinctively causing one to hold their breath, at least for a second or two. Some more coverage via GeoAwesomeness “FishViews: Mapping the world’s waterways one mile at a time”, a video from Vice News on the project, and a PDF of a story from Pacific Standard, ‘Eyes on the River‘.
The possibilities of this seems pretty intriguing. There’s obviously a scale aspect of , but the examples from Green Lake (seen in a VR snapshot above) Lake Union, and the Ship Canal and Locks and Discovery Park shoreline are all great explorations of urban waters in a way yet to be seen – a true key to unlocking some hidden hydrology.
And thanks to @pugetpeople for the tip on this one!
HEADER: Screenshot of Fishview map of Elwha River – via KNKX