It’s an image that is both pastoral and primal: a person on the river bank with a line in the water. Fishing has roots in the human experience that are hundreds of thousands of years deep, predating the rise of civilizations.
Fast forward to the high-tech civilization of today, where open data can turn a primal experience into the ultimate experience for the sport fisherman.
The contemporary platform for this prehistoric pursuit is FISHBUOY, a data-driven app that helps the angler crunch the numbers on where to make that record catch.
The app is the creation of longtime sport fisherman and tech veteran Martin Draeger, who helms the Waterloo-based ENVionX Inc. The reason for FISHBUOY is simple, says Draeger:
More knowledge; more fish.
FISHBUOY uses historical and real-time data from more than 17,000 monitoring stations, crunching the numbers on such catch factors as water levels or turbidity following storms. As well, FISHBUOY aggregates public or personal catch data, to show what is being caught, and where. “FISHBUOY is meant to address many user types, from the weekend warrior to the more serious angler who will spend thousands of dollars to prepare for a tournament,” says Draeger. “They want every bit of information — current and historical — that they can use to improve their catch.”
Draeger first rolled FISHBUOY out in iOS, but it was the funding available to him as a member of the 2016 ODX Ventures cohort, that helped both expand and deepen FISHBUOY’s capabilities.
ODX Ventures is the annual startup support program for ODX, Canada’s Open Data Exchange, a Waterloo-based public-private partnership supported by the federal Treasury Board, with a mandate to champion the popular use and commercialization of open data.
Draeger says the expansion of the FISHBUOY platform into Android and the development of better visualization models for the data (anglers wanted to see the fishing data in a map or graphic format) “are being supported by the funding through the ODX Ventures program.”
Also significant was the ODX environment: “Whether it’s a webinar or events like the open data forum in London (GO Open Data 2017) — it’s about being part of a community of companies and individuals with like-minded interests in open data. It helped me shape and focus the direction I wanted to take the software. The community gave me the confidence that I could continue developing open data.”
Finally, FISHBUOY is buoyed by the weight that ODX and its sponsors carry. “ODX is funded (in part) by Treasury Board, and having the ability to approach an employee at an agency or a group and say ‘I’m part of this program and we’re an organization that has an interest in open data,’ it provides a little more weight to the discussion.”
Draeger says that Treasury Board representatives that he met through ODX’s hosting agency Communitech, expedited his communications with Environment Canada, so when there are changes to datasets needed for FISHBUOY, his company is notified so he can make adjustments.
“That support, that recognition and that ability to interact with government is foundational for the future of FISHBUOY.”
And the future for this fishing app is huge, Draeger says. The redesigned consumer product for iOS and Android will launch this year, with 3,000 eager anglers downloading the free version already.
The next target, says Draeger, is the fishing gear retail market: “For so many fishing stores — small ma-and-pa stores or giants — having a prebuilt system that allows them to plug and play and promote their product through that app is something that they’re going to be very interested in.”
Communitech is a partner of Startup HERE Toronto. This article originally appeared on their site.