2
USER NEEDSFOR NAUTICAL INFORMATION

The starting point of this study was to identify the present and potential users of nautical information products and theft specific information needs. The process for obtaining this information was, first, to elicit responses to a questionnaire from a broad range of users, and, second, to invite a representation of those communities to participate in a workshop on the future needs of users of nautical information.

Traditional users of nautical information need charts for navigation safety (professional mariners, recreational boaters, commercial and recreational fishers). An emerging new group of users needs nautical information for nonnavigational purposes such as coastal zone planning; regulatory activities of federal, state, and local governments; and modeling for environmental and other scientific assessments and evaluations. Navigation users can be further separated into two categories: commercial shippers that operate under international regulations requiting carriage of approved charts, and other mariners, including recreational boaters, whose need for nautical information is governed by individual preference.

Another community of interest for this study is the private-sector producers of value-added marine information products. These include companies producing equipment or hardware to process nautical information and those in the business of repackaging data (paper or electronic) into value-added products for use by mariners.

A SURVEY OF USER NEEDS

The first task of the committee was to determine the product needs of mariners and other users of nautical information products. From the outset these needs were recognized to differ among various user groups. It was proposed, therefore, that a broad cross section of users and potential users be queried to obtain a representative response.

A representative sample of each of the user communities was surveyed by means of a questionnaire mailed to a targeted list of over 1,000 individuals, supplemented by questionnaires published in sources that provided exposure to the largest marine audiences (e.g., nautical magazines and the U.S. Coast Guard's Notice to Mariners). Analysis of the results was used to identify critical questions and issues that were addressed at a subsequent workshop.

The questionnaire, reproduced in its entirety in Appendix C-l, attempted to identify which present needs are being satisfied by existing products, and what new products or



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 15
Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission 2 USER NEEDSFOR NAUTICAL INFORMATION The starting point of this study was to identify the present and potential users of nautical information products and theft specific information needs. The process for obtaining this information was, first, to elicit responses to a questionnaire from a broad range of users, and, second, to invite a representation of those communities to participate in a workshop on the future needs of users of nautical information. Traditional users of nautical information need charts for navigation safety (professional mariners, recreational boaters, commercial and recreational fishers). An emerging new group of users needs nautical information for nonnavigational purposes such as coastal zone planning; regulatory activities of federal, state, and local governments; and modeling for environmental and other scientific assessments and evaluations. Navigation users can be further separated into two categories: commercial shippers that operate under international regulations requiting carriage of approved charts, and other mariners, including recreational boaters, whose need for nautical information is governed by individual preference. Another community of interest for this study is the private-sector producers of value-added marine information products. These include companies producing equipment or hardware to process nautical information and those in the business of repackaging data (paper or electronic) into value-added products for use by mariners. A SURVEY OF USER NEEDS The first task of the committee was to determine the product needs of mariners and other users of nautical information products. From the outset these needs were recognized to differ among various user groups. It was proposed, therefore, that a broad cross section of users and potential users be queried to obtain a representative response. A representative sample of each of the user communities was surveyed by means of a questionnaire mailed to a targeted list of over 1,000 individuals, supplemented by questionnaires published in sources that provided exposure to the largest marine audiences (e.g., nautical magazines and the U.S. Coast Guard's Notice to Mariners). Analysis of the results was used to identify critical questions and issues that were addressed at a subsequent workshop. The questionnaire, reproduced in its entirety in Appendix C-l, attempted to identify which present needs are being satisfied by existing products, and what new products or

OCR for page 15
Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission services might be required to meet other present needs. The same questions were posed for future needs. The questionnaire also examined the effects of the emergence of new of technology on marine navigation and obtained the response of the commercial maritime community to this technology revolution. It was clear from responses that future needs and, to a lesser extent, present needs are being driven by the evolution of navigation technology. The introduction of low-cost, highly accurate positioning technology makes it possible for mariners to determine their position at any time and in any weather with an accuracy that frequently exceeds that of the chart upon which they plot their position. Parallel efforts in the public and private sectors have resulted in digital representations of navigational charts, which can be interfaced to a Global Positioning System (GPS) via either general- or special-purpose computers to enable tracking of vessels in real time on a computer screen. The mariner can, at a glance, see a ship's present location relative to its intended track, navigational aids, channels, obstructions to navigation, bathymetry, and coastlines. In 1986 the International Maritime Organization's Maritime Safety Committee agreed on the need to produce a standard that would ensure recognition of an electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) as the "legal equivalent of a paper chart" within the meaning of the internationally mandated Safety of Life at Sea carriage requirement for nautical publications (Kite-Powell, 1992). International interest in the development of a legal ECDIS has led to the development of prototype systems. Some evaluations of these systems have indicated that the "availability of ECDIS on the bridge consistently and substantially reduced the mariner's workload for navigation. In addition, mariners were able to achieve a sometimes substantially greater accuracy of navigation as measured by a smaller cross-track distance from the planned track line" (Akerstrom-Hoffman et al., 1993). The discussion that follows summarizes the findings of the questionnaire and describes how, through the subsequent workshop discussions, these findings were sharpened and then synthesized into a coherent set. It should be pointed out that neither the questionnaire responses nor the workshop was controlled to constitute a statistically valid sampling of any user populations. The purpose of both exercises was to elicit responses from a varied community of users and to stimulate dialogue within these communities and among users, the producers of nautical information products, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). SUMMARY OF THE SURVEY In an attempt to reach a representative cross section of users of navigational information, mailing lists were assembled from 12 user communities, including commercial shipping, recreational boating, and managers of state coastal areas. Notification of the availability of the questionnaire was provided through advertisements in appropriate magazines and the Notice to Mariners. All who requested the questionnaire received it. An abridged version was printed in a popular nautical magazine (Soundings). Due to the lack of controls on distribution, statistical analyses of the responses would not have been suitable. Over 1,000 questionnaires were mailed; 670 were returned in time to be analyzed as part of

OCR for page 15
Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission this study. A graphic display of the responses can be found in Appendix C-2. Respondents to the questionnaire were representative of all geographic areas of interest to the study. Most of the respondents now use NOAA or Defense Mapping Agency charts, but a significant fraction use Chart Books. Loran, radar, and GPS were the most frequently used navigational aids. Very few of the respondents used digital products. Those who updated their charts did so primarily by use of either U.S. Coast Guard or Defense Mapping Agency Notices to Mariners. Questionnaire Findings Over half of the respondents indicated that presently available products did not meet their needs. Concerns included information content, accuracy, currency, and scale. Those who chose commercial products over government products generally did so for some combination of cost, convenience, size and format, and value-added information. Better-quality paper for the present products was a frequent request, as was a plea for better-quality, higher-resolution bathymetric data. Professional mariners generally wanted less cluttered charts, while recreational boaters wanted more supporting information. The respondents who were using electronic navigation systems seemed universally well satisfied with them and expressed the conviction that electronic navigation is the ''wave of the future.'' WORKSHOP ON USER NEEDS The workshop included representatives of all of the user communities identified for the questionnaire mailing. The first priority of the workshop was to stimulate dialogue among the representatives and to examine the extent to which the survey results were confirmed by the workshop participants' discussions. A list of participants is found in Appendix D. An early conclusion of the group was that the needs of the various users were sufficiently diverse that no single product would satisfy all needs. For example, U.S. Navy requirements fall into both the "professional mariner" and the "nontraditional" categories. A subsequent conclusion was that the universe of users could rather conveniently be divided into three groups: Professional mariners are defined as those who go to sea to make a living. This group included commercial fishing and cargo carriers, the U.S. military, marine pilots, and the offshore petroleum industry. Professional mariners are trained to use nautical charts and are required to use them by law or regulation. They generally desire accurate and current chart features, particularly soundings, navigation aids, and hazards. The professional mariner uses the chart as a navigation tool and, therefore, generally wants uncluttered charts, believing that information which is available elsewhere (such as marina facilities) should not be included on navigation charts.

OCR for page 15
Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission Recreational boaters' knowledge, skill, and training vary widely with individual need and preference. The recreational boater generally has less storage and working space on board as well as fewer crew members and frequently prefers that as much planning information as possible be printed on the chart. While having the most current chart is generally important to the recreational boater, chart update information is generally not a critical requirement. Nonnavigational users use nautical charts as a geographic basis for analyzing and displaying other oceanographic, geophysical, or topographic information. The nonnavigational warfighting requirements of the Navy fall into this category. Chart data might be used solely as a background or might actually be used in the definition of the product. While accuracy and currency needs for this group are not as stringent as for navigational users, coverage and data content requirements are extensive. This user group includes real estate developers, coastal zone planners, wetlands managers, state coastal regulatory agencies, research scientists, and others. The nonnavigation needs of the nontraditional users other than the U.S. military are examined in further detail in Chapter 5 and, therefore, are not included in the discussions that follow in this chapter. WORKSHOP FINDINGS Repeated Themes Throughout the workshop discussions, four ideas or themes recurred so frequently that it is appropriate to identify them at the beginning of the discussion of user needs: Need for safety through boater education. It was obvious to all workshop participants that more could be done to improve boater safety through education than by any possible improvement to charts or other information products. Educating boaters about the need to have current charts on board, and about using them correctly and effectively, would pay immense safety dividends. Need for improved bathymetric information. Charts and other information products are no better than the information they display. Need for a nautical information data base. The diverse needs of the various users would seem to best be served by the establishment of a digital nautical information data base that would support "layers" of information appropriate to the different uses. "Not for use in navigation." Although this disclaimer appears on nearly all chart-like products created by anyone other than NOAA, both paper and digital, it is unrealistic to believe that the products are not being used for navigation. Recognition should be given to the fact that such products are, in reality, being sold and used as navigational products; a means of certifying their navigational suitability should be established.

OCR for page 15
Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission Common Needs The workshop discussions of user needs by user community identified several areas that are common to all users and some that are unique to a specific group. Needs that cut across all users included the following: Better paper products. Users were nearly unanimous in their requests for better-quality paper charts. Better-quality paper that could be folded and refolded without disintegrating, waterproof charts, standardization in size, and increased legibility were high on everybody's list. Better update capability. The update process via Notices to Mariners is so cumbersome that only professional mariners update their charts with any regularity. Quicker product delivery. The time delay between the date edition (i.e., last update is entered on the chart) of a chart and the date at which it is available to the public is perceived as unduly long. Electronic and non-NOAA paper products certified for navigation. Non-NOAA paper products are nearly universally in use; there is a need to provide the quality assurance necessary to make them acceptable for navigation or at least identify which products are acceptable. Real-time information. The technology to measure water levels, currents, and microscale weather in real time, and to integrate and display these data on an ECDIS-like system, has been available for many years. The availability of these data could significantly reduce risks to life and property. There was universal interest among user groups in having real-time information available. Needs of Specific Users Professional mariners, including the military, prefer to have their charts "uncluttered" by extraneous information, which they define as "anything that can be found someplace else." Safety of navigation is their priority, for which they would like to have improved bathymetry on commercial routes and more frequent chart editions. The commercial fishing community would like detailed bathymetry, including better definition of obstructions, to depths of 800 fathoms. All would like to have chart boundaries redefined for those cases in which an approach is split between two charts and to have chart projections optimized for the best display of significant features. Recreational boaters, by contrast, want "user-friendly, one-stop shopping" for their charts. They would like to have anything and everything they might ever want to know for navigation, as well as shoreside features, services, and facilities, on the same chart. Loran grids extending into harbors, waypoint definitions, bridge names and opening schedules, tidal ranges, bottom types, and chart symbol definitions would all be welcomed. Military users' needs encompass both the needs of professional mariners and those of the emerging nonnavigation users:

OCR for page 15
Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission Navigation: Charting requirements to support safe navigation are paramount. In addition to accurate and current soundings, navigational aids, and hazards, the Navy requires real-time tidal and water-level information. Like the professional mariner, Navy chart users want "uncluttered" charts. Finally, submarine navigation in U.S. coastal waters extends the need for accurate bathymetry and hazards into waters deeper than currently surveyed for surface navigation. Nonnavigation uses: While paper charts and information are still necessary, the military is moving rapidly into a digital environment. In the future the Navy will require that all of its nautical information products be in digital form. Products specific to Navy warfighting needs will establish requirements for digital data fields beyond those required for navigation. FUTURE NEEDS It is likely that, in the near future, the greatest need for new products that are presently not available from NOAA will come from users of electronic chart systems. Electronic charts are computer display systems that combine digital chart data with real-time electronic position inputs (like GPS or loran) to provide the mariner with an automatic, real-time plot of a vessel's position. The automation of position plotting represents a significant improvement in timeliness and accuracy over traditional manual plotting methods. Electronic charts also allow greater efficiency and accuracy in other functions, such as route planning; and they can warn of potential groundings by analyzing a vessel's course and the nautical chart data describing the waters ahead. The advantages offered by electronic chart systems in safety and efficiency are likely to make them standard equipment for many commercial vessels in the near future. Already, simple versions are widely used on recreational boats and fishing vessels. The main obstacle to the full commercial use of electronic chart systems, and especially of the ECDIS—expected to be designated by the International Hydrographic Organization and the International Maritime Organization as a potential equivalent (replacement) of the paper chart as a basis for commercial navigation in the near future—is the lack of availability of digital data sets issued on the authority of national hydrographic agencies. Although private firms have digitized selected features from many of the world's charts for use in simple electronic charts on fishing vessels and recreational boats, these data sets cannot be used as the legal equivalent of paper charts by commercial vessels because they do not carry the legal certification of government hydrographers. Nevertheless, a growing proportion of the world's commercial shipping fleet already carries some form of electronic chart system. The demand for official digital data sets is strong and is likely to increase dramatically as electronic chart technology gains acceptance and as local, national, and international carriage requirements for electronic chart systems are enacted.

OCR for page 15
Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission SUMMARY From the committee's review of technology-driven international trends, the questionnaire summaries, and the workshop deliberations, it is apparent that user needs are changing rapidly in response to two forces. First, traditional users are seeking new navigational products in response to rapidly evolving navigation and computation technology. Second, an expanding community of nontraditional users is creating a different set of needs for nautical data that can serve as the basis for analysis of various coastal and ocean processes and environmental parameters. The workshop discussions indicated that nautical information products must be tailored to meet the needs of individual users and that no single product line could meet the needs of all users. The charts and products issued by NOAA presently satisfy most of the needs of the knowledgeable mariner and the navigation needs of the military. The value-added producers are meeting many of the additional needs of the boating public. Although many of the changes requested by present users could easily be satisfied with some rather minor changes, others would require significant effort on the part of NOAA, particularly the following items, which were requested by all user communities: more detailed and accurate bathymetry; more frequent chart updates; and faster distribution of products. Although the questionnaires themselves did not reflect a large demand for digital products at the present time, it was clear that this was the result of a lack of familiarity on the part of most of the respondents with the status and capability of electronic navigation systems, which have only recently become commercially available. The background briefings received by the committee on both the "pull" of international charting requirements and the "push" of rapidly advancing technology emphasized the need for NOAA to move into the electronic chart era. Discussions at the workshop indicated that the greatest need for new products in the immediate future will come from direct and indirect users of electronic chart systems. REFERENCES Akerstrom-Hoffman, R., C. Pizzariello, M. W. Smith, S. Seigel, T. E. Schreiber, and I. Gonin. 1993. A closer look at mariners' use of electronic chart display and information systems. The Second Annual Conference and Exposition for Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems. Proceedings, ECDIS '93 98-105. Baltimore, Maryland. Kite-Powell, H. 1992. Rationale, Processes, and Effects of Technical Standards in Marine Electronics. Ph.D. dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.

OCR for page 15
Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission This page in the original is blank.