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Project Description

To decrease the risk of decompression sickness, scuba divers are trained to use special precautions when diving at sites located above certain elevations and when traveling above certain elevations shortly after diving in a lower region.  Currently there are limited online resources available to support the elevation-related aspects of dive planning.

For example, if a family of recreational scuba divers planning a road trip wants to dive a quarry they’ve never experienced in the morning then drive a few hours cross-country in the afternoon, how do the divers easily assess whether the quarry or their driving route after the quarry are above an altitude where extra precaution is appropriate?

Divers Alert Network (DAN) is a non‐profit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping divers in need of medical emergency assistance, and promoting dive safety through research, education, products, and diving services.  This GIS Service Pledge leveraged informal sponsorship from DAN to provide scuba divers with an ArcGIS Online hosted interactive map focused on elevation related aspects of dive planning.  In addition to relevant basemap and address search capabilities, the map provided layers indicating where worldwide ground elevations are at levels above which divers and post-dive travelers need to take special precautions.

Screenshot of Bill Beuth's GIS Service Pledge project
ArcGIS Online hosted interactive map focused on elevation related aspects of dive planning

Just for fun, and in the spirit of dive education, a second map was also provided that indicated where in the world scuba divers could dive to the ocean floor based on the depth limits associated with their particular scuba certifications.

Screenshot of Bill Beuth's SCUBA diveable depths map
Map indicating where in the world scuba divers could dive to the ocean floor based on the depth limits associated with their particular scuba certifications.

Project Outcomes

After proper Esri accounts were established, generating and publishing the maps was straight forward using ArcGIS Online.  The author’s original plan was to create elevation and depth layers in ArcGIS Pro then publish them to ArcGIS Online, but suitable layers were found in Esri’s Living Atlas, making the ArcGIS Pro step unnecessary.

Unfortunately, adoption of the maps by the scuba diving community was lower than expected.  Several factors likely contributed to this issue, including:

  1. Promotion was done only through social media (Twitter), and only by a new and dedicated social media account instead of by an existing account with an established following.
  2. Scuba diving travel was below average in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, so dive planning resources were less in demand.
  3. There are fewer inland scuba divers (where elevation planning is critical) than ocean divers, especially when considering divers traveling to new sites where they are not already familiar with elevation characteristics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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