Be Part of the Future of Boating

The NYS Canal Corporation is testing a new way to make it easier for boaters to travel through its locks and under its lift bridges, and provide better data on Canal usage.

It is a pilot project utilizing a smartphone app called On the Canals. Available for FREE download from the App Store and in Google Play by searching for OntheCanals. The app can be used by commercial vessels, too.

How the App works

  • After downloading the free app, the user creates a one-time account for their boat or for multiple boats.
  • As they travel the waterways, and if their location service is activated (required) on their smartphone, they will be alerted when approaching one of the pilot facilities and asked if they would like to transit the facility.
  • If the user clicks yes, a message is sent to the facility (lock or lift bridge) operator alerting them to a boater requesting to pass through the lock or lift bridge.
  • The operator acknowledges the request and prepares the facility for passage.
    • (If no acknowledgement, do not submit another request via the app. Options are: use previous way you contacted facility -or- tune VHF radio to 13 -or- click Schedule at bottom of app, scroll down to and click on Locks, Lift Bridges and Guard Gates, then under Lock Information heading click on Lock Information or Lift Bridge information, then scroll to facility you want to contact and use phone listed.)
  • Once the boater passes through the facility, the boat's information (time of transit, length, registration number, type of boat, etc.) is added to the Canals data system removing the manual steps previously used to record a passage.

No personal data is recorded

Morning scene at Lock E2 of the Erie Canal, featuring a metal truss bridge spanning over calm water. Boats are moored along the canal banks, and lush greenery lines the shore. The sky is partly cloudy with soft sunlight illuminating the surroundings.
The image shows a smartphone displaying the "On The Canals" app. The app is open to a map view, showing the Erie Canal system. The user's hand holds the smartphone, indicating interaction. Two red markers indicate the locations of Lock E24 Baldwinville and Lock CS1 Cayuga on the canal route. Additionally, there are blue lines representing the canal paths and text labels indicating nearby cities such as Syracuse and Auburn.
Aerial view of the Erie Canal lock with the Colonial Belle, a tourist boat, passing through, showcasing the efficient waterway transportation system in the canals.

Limited use at Six Canal Facilities

For the pilot project, the app is limited in use at six Canal facilities—four locks and two lift bridges. These locations were selected to gather app feedback from a diverse
group of Canal boaters and Canal Operations staff across the state.

Four Locks

  • C1 Waterford
  • E8 Scotia
  • E24 Baldwinsville
  • CS1 Cayuga

Two Lift Bridges

  • Fairport Lift Bridge, Main Street [E-128]
  • Middleport Lift Bridge, Main Street [E-216]

map of pilot project locations

The image is a map titled "Boater App Pilot Locations Site Map." It shows a portion of New York State, including Lake Ontario to the northwest and Lake Erie to the west. Several canals are marked with blue lines, including the Erie Canal and the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. Markers indicate various pilot locations, including Fairport Lift Bridge, Lock E24 in Baldwinsville, Lock CS1 Cayuga, Lock E8 Scotia, and Lock C7 in Waterford.

Testing the App

Testing the app allows the Canal Corporation to learn how this technology will benefit boaters and Canal staff, will identify any issues prior to expanding the use of the app and will collect feedback.


A white sightseeing boat named the Riverie cruises along the tranquil waters of the Erie Canal. In the background, the historic Corn Hill district and its surrounding bridges can be seen under a partly cloudy sky.

Navigating the Canals

Get acquainted with the various factors you’ll need to consider while planning your journey and view helpful tutorials to ensure your personal safety and that of other canal visitors.