3
FILLINGTHE DATA BASE: DATA COLLECTION

The accuracy, reliability, and currency of the data that form the basis of the charts are central to providing accurate and reliable nautical charting products. This chapter begins with a discussion of the need for data collection to support nautical charts and information and then describes what is currently produced as well as the present backlog of requests for new charts. Also discussed is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) current process for prioritizing the backlog of survey requests and also new chart requests. Two alternatives for managing these backlogs are assessed. An underlying theme supported by the material in this chapter is that NOAA should focus a large portion of its data collection efforts on quality assurance and the efficient management of data collection resources.

CURRENT DATA COLLECTION ACTIVITIES

NOAA is responsible for the charting and updating of approximately 95,000 miles of coastline and 3.5 million square nautical miles of oceans, inland rivers, and lakes. International agreements in which the United States participates imply that the U.S. government will provide charts adequate to ensure safe navigation in U.S. waters. U.S. coastal waters have never been completely surveyed, however, and when most existing surveys were performed, procedures for collecting closely spaced data in an economical manner had not been developed. As a result, some minimum-depth hazards were missed. Obviously, the quality and reliability of a chart are directly linked to the quality of the hydrographic data from which the chart is produced.

Of NOAA's 1,000 nautical charts, approximately 300 are revised (new editions issued) each year. Each chart is assigned a revision cycle based on its scale and geographic location. In practice, new edition cycles are influenced by the number and type of critical corrections affecting a chart, remaining shelf stock, receipt of new basic data, format or regulation changes, and most of all by the availability of financial resources. Critical corrections include, but are not limited to, those to aids to navigation, obstructions, shoaling, facility changes, and dredging. Generally, 30 to 100 critical corrections trigger a new edition. During fiscal years 1990 and 1991, new chart editions were published when an average of about 75 critical corrections had accumulated. Ideally, for safe navigation a chart should contain all known critical corrections at the time of purchase.



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Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission 3 FILLINGTHE DATA BASE: DATA COLLECTION The accuracy, reliability, and currency of the data that form the basis of the charts are central to providing accurate and reliable nautical charting products. This chapter begins with a discussion of the need for data collection to support nautical charts and information and then describes what is currently produced as well as the present backlog of requests for new charts. Also discussed is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) current process for prioritizing the backlog of survey requests and also new chart requests. Two alternatives for managing these backlogs are assessed. An underlying theme supported by the material in this chapter is that NOAA should focus a large portion of its data collection efforts on quality assurance and the efficient management of data collection resources. CURRENT DATA COLLECTION ACTIVITIES NOAA is responsible for the charting and updating of approximately 95,000 miles of coastline and 3.5 million square nautical miles of oceans, inland rivers, and lakes. International agreements in which the United States participates imply that the U.S. government will provide charts adequate to ensure safe navigation in U.S. waters. U.S. coastal waters have never been completely surveyed, however, and when most existing surveys were performed, procedures for collecting closely spaced data in an economical manner had not been developed. As a result, some minimum-depth hazards were missed. Obviously, the quality and reliability of a chart are directly linked to the quality of the hydrographic data from which the chart is produced. Of NOAA's 1,000 nautical charts, approximately 300 are revised (new editions issued) each year. Each chart is assigned a revision cycle based on its scale and geographic location. In practice, new edition cycles are influenced by the number and type of critical corrections affecting a chart, remaining shelf stock, receipt of new basic data, format or regulation changes, and most of all by the availability of financial resources. Critical corrections include, but are not limited to, those to aids to navigation, obstructions, shoaling, facility changes, and dredging. Generally, 30 to 100 critical corrections trigger a new edition. During fiscal years 1990 and 1991, new chart editions were published when an average of about 75 critical corrections had accumulated. Ideally, for safe navigation a chart should contain all known critical corrections at the time of purchase.

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Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission Requests for New Charts The Mapping and Charting Branch of NOAA's Coast and Geodetic Survey routinely receives requests for new charts. The Chart Request File presently contains over 1,000 such requests. Each request is scored to determine its priority rank. The main factors considered in scoring include the importance of the requestor, the chart adequacy of the area, marine use of the area, and area dynamics. Other factors that can influence the score are national defense needs, data availability, and annual cost. About 140 requests are rated 6 (out of a maximum score of 10) or higher. It is anticipated that production changes associated with the use of ANCS II1 will permit the construction of about 50 new charts per year by 1998, which will greatly improve NOAA's ability to address the new chart request backlog. However, the need to update old survey data and improve the data density remains a critical requirement to be addressed by NOAA. Requests for New Surveys Requests for new charts and requests for surveys are related but separate challenges for the Coast and Geodetic Survey. A request for a new chart may or may not require a new survey as preparation; a request for a new survey may or may not require publication of a new chart. Often, a request for one results in an implicit requirement for the other. This requires coordination of two branches within the Nautical Charting Division of the Coast and Geodetic Survey: the Charting Branch, which handles chart requests, and the Hydrographic Surveys Branch, which handles survey requests. Sixty percent of the survey data used in the compilation of NOAA's present nautical chart suite comes from surveys that were completed prior to 1940, with technology that was much less accurate for determining position than that now in use. Each year the Nautical Charting Division registers hundreds of requests for surveys of perceived hazards from a wide spectrum of users. At present, three NOAA vessels are engaged in survey work, but the workload clearly exceeds their capability to complete it in the foreseeable future. As of August 1993, the Survey Request File contained more than 2,000 individual survey requests dating back to 1984, when it was established. Requests range in scale from large-area hydrographic surveys to local investigations of reported obstructions. About half of the requests tracked had been completed as of 1993, leaving a backlog of approximately 1,000 requests. Requests are received from individuals or groups within NOAA (NOAA initiates nearly half of the outstanding requests now on file), commercial shipping interests, the Defense Mapping Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, state and local authorities, the fishing industry, the recreational boating community, and others. 1   Automated Nautical Charting System; see discussion in Chapter 4.

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Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission DATA COLLECTION NEEDS AND VALUES Findings from the user questionnaire (Appendix C) are consistent with the outstanding requests for hydrographic surveys. Questionnaire results suggest that significant need for new surveys comes from many sectors of the user community, including military, commercial shipping, commercial fishing, and recreational users. As described in Chapter 2, the need for better bathymetry around commercial shipping routes is a prime concern of commercial shipping users. Similarly, military user requirements have led to recommendations for the development of a high-resolution, near-shore bathymetric data base (see Shaw et al., 1993). Commercial fishing users voiced a need for better bathymetric detail to 800 fathoms. All of these varied requirements cannot be met by the existing surveys for most areas, since most existing surveys consist of relatively widely spaced soundings. Many areas will require new surveys, using multibeam and/or side-scan systems, for complete bottom coverage. Several federal agencies other than NOAA have requirements for hydrographic or bathymetric data. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Minerals Management Service use bathymetric data to support federally funded programs, such as geological studies of the Exclusive Economic Zone and offshore mineral and energy resource assessment and development. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers require other bathymetric and hydrographic data for use in monitoring construction and other activities for environmental impacts. Also, NOAA's environmental and fishery programs require similar data. Setting Priorities The need for establishing priorities for hydrographic surveys is clear: limited resources do not allow NOAA to conduct all requested surveys over short time periods, and NOAA must decide in which order to conduct them. The efficient solution to the prioritization problem is to first conduct those surveys that produce the greatest benefit to the country for each dollar spent on the survey. In theory, this means estimating the benefit-cost ratio for each possible survey, and then conducting the surveys in order of decreasing benefit-cost ratio as quickly as available resources allow, so long as the benefit-cost ratio remains above a specified (national) cutoff value. Efficient use of resources available to conduct surveys requires not only that they be performed in the order suggested above, but also that the cost be kept to a minimum (with quality requirements taken into account). NOAA's present approach attempts to implement this type of priority scheme. Areas are selected for survey projects based on their area score; a review of the age and adequacy of existing surveys in view of modern standards; and consideration of vessel traffic, bottom topography, scheduling of survey vessels, and other concerns. Thus, the Survey Request File rating of requests and areas is only one input to the final survey prioritization decision. The Survey Request File decision process is a formalized, empirically tested process for integrating survey requests with NOAA's knowledge of national needs and incorporates many of the elements logically important in prioritizing surveys. However, two elements of

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Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission the process are subjective. First, estimation of the importance of the requestor is arbitrary and subject to political influence, and is not likely to produce the best objective estimate of value to the nation of a particular survey project. Second, the relative costs of competing (alternative) survey projects are not explicitly included in the algorithm for ranking surveys. Although cost considerations probably enter subjectively into the final deliberations, nonexplicit treatment of these costs suggests that resources may not be allocated to projects in the most cost-efficient manner. A more explicit application of benefit-cost analysis may be necessary to ensure efficiency in a time of constrained resources (see Appendix E). SOLUTIONS TO THE SURVEY REQUEST BACKLOG As described in Chapter 4, ANCS II will do much to relieve the backlog of new chart requests, if the necessary survey data can be supplied. Given the backlog of survey requests and NOAA's limited in-house resources to conduct surveys, it is apparent that alternative data-gathering means are necessary. The following discussion explores additional resources available to NOAA—the use of private contractors and cooperative survey ventures with other government agencies—to better leverage NOAA's surveying resources. Although these approaches obviously require funds, other agencies have found that efficiencies are gained through the use of private contract services, so that costs may, in fact, diminish in relation to the mount of data obtained. Some of the reasons for these savings can be found in the flexibility obtained through contracting. Private Contract Surveys to Supplement NOAA Capabilities One proven means for NOAA to increase the collection of data is to use private contractors for data acquisition. Under similar requirements for data accuracy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has successfully evolved from exclusive use of in-house crews and equipment for data acquisition to use of contract crews and equipment for roughly 40 percent of the hydrographic survey data presently acquired. The Corps of Engineers uses a formal selection process to select technically qualified contractors based on merit from a list of respondents prior to any price considerations. Cost effectiveness is measured through formal audit to determine that negotiated prices are based on actual operational cost plus a reasonable profit margin. At the contracting officer's discretion, negotiations can be terminated with the selected respondent if equitable rates cannot be agreed upon. Negotiations can then immediately commence with the second qualifier. The Corps of Engineers' contracting experience is described in detail in Appendix F. There are a number of experienced hydrographic survey firms in the United States that are capable of meeting NOAA's hydrographic survey standards and those prescribed by the International Hydrographic Organization. Typically, contractors would be expected to comply with NOAA quality control requirements, and NOAA's field oversight role would become that of quality assurance inspection. The amount of quality assurance oversight

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Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission would depend on the contractor's experience and NOAA's confidence in the contractor's ability. The use of private contractors by NOAA does not reduce the agency's liability for the integrity of the data as displayed on the final product. However, NOAA would be indemnified against professional negligence through the contractors' professional liability insurance. NOAA would additionally have recourse through the Federal Board of Contract Appeals to withhold payment and/or obtain settlements for inadequate surveys. Responsibility for the data base requires substantial control over the quality of data collection efforts. However, it may be possible for NOAA to maintain quality control over data without collecting all data itself. For example, it might set quality standards and certify private operators to collect data. Efficiency gains would be achieved by NOAA by paying only for actual data collection activities and associated administrative charges. NOAA would essentially eliminate charges associated with equipment (vessel) downtime, maintenance, and lost time due to transit tune to the survey site location. In addition, large capital outlays for new vessels and equipment, replacement equipment, and maintenance and upkeep can be delayed or avoided. Further, the private sector is in a position to more rapidly adopt new technologies, thereby improving efficiency. Interagency Collaborative Efforts NOAA has had a longstanding program of cooperative agreements with state governments as a means for accelerating its national geodetic control program. The USGS has cooperated with as many as 35 states per year for several years in succession to expedite topographic mapping and hydrologic investigations. In some instances these cooperative ventures have nearly doubled the annual output of the total base program. Other federal organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, have cooperative programs as well. Opportunities exist for obtaining data for NOAA's hydrographic and bathymetric digital data bases through joint efforts with federal agencies and the private sector. The success of cooperative endeavors with other organizations depends on several factors: the resolution of liability requirements, adoption of agreed-upon standards, technology development, training of cooperative groups, and availability of some additional resources for use by the Coast and Geodetic Survey in monitoring these joint ventures. Cooperative ventures are now becoming more innovative, especially as federal resources shrink, technology changes, and the demand for graphic and digital data becomes more pervasive. Mechanisms and policies for the arrangement of future partnerships and cooperative agreements are addressed in Chapters 5, 6, and 7. The following discussion focuses on specific prospects for collaboration in hydrographic surveying between NOAA and other federal agencies.

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Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission NOAA Use of Corps of Engineers Survey Resources Approximately 100 Corps of Engineers engineering survey parties are strategically located to cover the nation's major river and harbor projects. All major coastal inland waterway navigation projects and ports employ permanent Corps of Engineers hydrographic survey crews. Since many of NOAA's critical (''emergency'') requests to investigate reported navigation hazards occur in or near these major commercial navigation projects, these resources could be readily deployed to perform surveys. Utilization of Corps of Engineers engineering survey resources could have significant advantages to NOAA. Survey support could be made available within 24 hours in emergency situations throughout most of the country. Most significantly, NOAA would eliminate major costs that accrue when mobilizing and demobilizing survey vessels and personnel from their two main marine centers. In addition, NOAA would not have to divert crews from other field operations for short-duration requirements. NOAA Use of Corps of Engineers Contract Forces An alternative option is to use commercial firms already on active Corps of Engineers contracts. The Corps of Engineers maintains approximately 30 active contracts with firms that have hydrographic capabilities, covering all major coastal areas and inland waterways. NOAA could requisition any of these firms through the district holding the base contract through issuance of a standard delivery order. Usually, one to two weeks is required to effect a routine notice to proceed; 24 hours in emergency cases. These firms follow the same standards required of Corps of Engineers in-house crews and could perform surveys in places and times when it is impractical to mobilize either a NOAA crew, a NOAA contract crew, or a Corps of Engineers crew. The main advantage to NOAA is enhanced flexibility of coverage. Cost-savings benefits to NOAA could be realized in that, if only intermittent use on a particular contract is assumed, NOAA would not incur contract administration costs. These administrative costs can be a substantial percentage of the cost of a survey with small and widely dispersed requirements. NOAA Use of Department of Defense Survey Forces The U.S. Navy operates several hydrographic survey vessels, presently used primarily for surveys in foreign waters. As the Navy turns its focus from deep-water to littoral areas of operation and becomes more interested in near-shore training exercises and maneuvers in U.S. coastal waters, its needs for hydrographic information from waters covered by NOAA's charting mission will increase. It is possible that Navy survey vessels may be used, in some cases, to assist with survey missions in U.S. waters.

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Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission U.S. Geological Survey Current agreements are in effect between USGS and NOAA to exchange geodetic and bathymetric data. The results are a more robust geodetic data base for the nation and a map series ("topobathymetric" maps) for coastal areas that is extremely valuable to a broad user community. Progress in completing this map series and creating a digital data base has been slow because of a lack of bathymetric data. Work on this data set holds the potential for a cooperative venture, and additional NOAA resources would expedite this program. Retaining a Federal Hydrographic Survey Capability Although the private sector should be encouraged to perform the majority of actual hydrographic surveys in U.S. waters, the federal government (NOAA, in cooperation with the U.S. Navy and the Army Corps of Engineers) will need to maintain an in-house, state-of-the-art capability for hydrographic data collection to enable it to set standards, train personnel, develop and test advanced technology, and meet national requirements. SUMMARY NOAA's Survey Request File and Chart Request File data bases document a backlog of over 1,100 survey requests and over 1,000 requests for new charts. Both backlogs are growing. While the backlogs suggest that demand for surveying and charting services exceeds what NOAA presently provides, by themselves they do not make a solid case for additional public investment in surveying and charting. First, it costs users nothing to make requests, and some fraction of the documented requests may not be of sufficient importance to warrant NOAA's attention. Second, for those requests that are of significant importance, NOAA, to date, has not conducted economic analyses of the costs associated with the delay imposed by present surveying and charting resource constraints. A high-quality survey data base is a prerequisite for meeting user needs. NOAA can only produce this data base by increasing data-gathering efforts through (1) maintaining, in partnership with the military, a leading capability in gathering survey data that will enable it to lead in new technological changes and oversee quality assurance by private collectors; (2) increasing use of private contractors for gathering survey data; and (3) improving collaboration with other federal agencies conducting surveys. In addition, the prioritization process could be improved by inclusion of benefit-cost considerations in the prioritization scheme. REFERENCES International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). 1987. IHO Standards for Hydrographic Surveys. Special Publication No. 44, 3rd ed. Copenhagen.

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Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission Shaw, K. B., D. A. Byman, S. V. Carter, M. T. Kalcic, M. G. Clawson, and M. M. Harris. 1993. An Analysis of Navy Digital Mapping, Charting, and Geodesy Requirements. Naval Research Laboratory NRL/USGSFR/7441-92-9402, April. Stennis Space Center, Mississippi.