Remote hydrography, whether using uncrewed systems or satellites, will be the driving force defining hydrographic data acquisition, processing and delivery workflows for the foreseeable future. Technology advances are moving at a pace that far exceeds the ability of a standard training curriculum to provide the knowledge required of hydrographers. Long endurance UxS, higher resolution satellite imagery coupled with advanced algorithms, and affordable high bandwidth global communications is pushing the limits of our ability to collect, process, analyze, archive and distribute hydrographic data. This also raises serious questions about the traditional role of a hydrographic surveyor:
- Is current education and training sufficient?
- Will data analysis and management become the focus of effort?
- Does remote hydrography expand opportunities for participation by previously unqualified people?
- Does AI/ML present a threat or opportunity for the hydrographic community?
- Will protection of traditional hydrographic roles prevent the community from reaping the rewards of new technology?
These questions, and more, will be addressed by the author, to include discussions on how national hydrographic societies can play a pivotal role in defining the hydrographer of the future.
Captain Brian Connon, US Navy (Ret) is Vice President, Ocean Mapping at Saildrone, Inc. and President of The Hydrographic Society of America. A certified hydrographer, he holds a BS in Geography from the University of South Carolina, an MS in Oceanography and Meteorology from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, and an MS in Hydrography from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a Chartered Marine Scientist (Hydrography) and Fellow of the Institute for Marine Engineering, Science and Technology. Brian served for over 28 years as an oceanographer and hydrographer in the US Navy and is passionate about mapping, exploring, and protecting our oceans.