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Executive Summary At the request of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Marine Board of the National Research Council (NRC) undertook a study of the current and planned capabilities of NOAA's Automated Nautical Charting System (ANCS II) and its role in meeting the nation's needs for nautical information. CONTEXT The charts of the nation's waters provide the foundation for the safety of navigation and maritime commerce. The charts currently are maintained by the National Ocean Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra- tion. In the 1980s NOAA undertook an aggressive project of automating much of the chart preparation activities, with the goal of delivering revised charts while reducing preparation time and cost for each chart. The project, Automated Nauti- cal Charting System (ANCS II), was designed, and a contractor was chosen through the procurement process in 1988. Since the start of the ANCS II develop- ment, electronic charts (as alternatives to traditional paper charts) have become practical, and their use for navigation (referred to as ECDIS LElectronic Chart Display and Information System]) was approved by the International Maritime Organization. Thus the system that was designed primarily to automate paper chart production was now expected to also deliver digital nautical data for elec- tronic charts. Fortunately it is possible for the nautical information digital data- base designed for ANCS II to serve both functions. The schedule for completing the ANCS II system has been extended, and overall costs have grown. Because of these factors, the system has been downsized and the ability to produce electronic charts deferred. In addition, technology has evolved since the inception of the project, and the contractor has abandoned 1
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2 NAUTICAL CHART PROGRAM active support for some of the hardware and software modules of the ANCS II design. Many of the ANCS II modules could be migrated at additional cost to commercial off-the-shelf, open-system components for some of the functions per formed by ANCS II. The ANCS II system, as originally designed, has been accepted by NOAA, and steps have been taken to begin production activities. However, the costs of system database loading were never added to the nautical charting budget, al- though these costs have been identified and requested since 1988. Faced with a lack of funding to load the ANCS II database, NOAA has de- veloped digital rasters techniques that have proven useful and efficient for auto- mating the paper chart production process. However, at this time NOAA does not have the capability of producing the vector database currently needed for ap- proved electronic charting systems. The above discussion identifies the current situation, which leads to the following questions. Does NOAA proceed with production of nautical charts with ANCS II and address the task of migrating the modules to a more support- able, commercially available operating system? Does NOAA replace ANCS II components with commercial off-the-shelf components? Can NOAA cover the substantial costs required to populate the nautical information vector databases in a time of decreasing budgets? Can NOAA use the internally generated raster capability to meet chart production needs and postpone the production of full- vector charts? Should components of both ANCS TI and the raster system be combined? It is within the context of these questions and the need to make man- agement decisions about nautical chart production that NOAA requested the NOR tn nr~viri`~. t~.~hni~.~1 ~irlance on the range of issues surrounding nautical r D A chart production capabilities. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The following two conclusions, supported and developed in the report and presented in context in chapter 5, should be considered by NOAA when it plans and implements future nautical charting programs. . To meet the nation's needs for nautical information, NOAA should adopt a new vision of its role. This vision should emphasize data management and certification of a digital nautical database. The long-term goal is a full-vector digital nautical information database accessible to the public through an electronic data warehouse, with appropriate standards on data quality control and interchange procedures to ensure data integrity. In the short-term, raster and limited-vector (hybrid) data are useful stepping stones on the path to the full-vector database. Vector data describe individual features by geographic coordinates and attributions. Raster data are simply digital pictures.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3 · In the long term, an open-architecture, standards-based, commercial off- the-shelf approach to systems development and acquisition will enable NOAA to reap the benefits of rapid systems development, flexibility, cost savings, and evolutionary change through adoption of new technology. In addition to these conclusions, the committee offers several specific rec- ommendations that are summarized below. These recommendations are presented in more detail in chapter 5. · NOAA should move toward an open-architecture, standards-based, com- mercial off-the-shelf approach to building a nautical information system. NOAA should not proceed with the implementation of ANCSII as pres- ently configured, but should evaluate each functional component, includ- ing its raster-based system, for replacement with commercial off-the-shelf technology. Following the outcome of the above-recommended evaluation, NOAA should implement an automated production environment from the surviv- ing components of existing systems or the commercial off-the-shelf alter- natives with a long-term goal of maintaining a full-vector database. NOAA should expand outreach programs to obtain feedback from users on new information representations that would enable more efficient pro- duction of paper charts. · NOAA should seek partnerships with other federal agencies that conduct related activities to share data and with the private sector to coordinate production of nautical information products. To meet these challenges, NOAA's long-term goal should be to create and manage a national nautical information database in the form of an electronic data warehouse accessible to industry and the public. Industry should then be encour- aged to develop capabilities to use these data to provide timely, cost-effective products for public sale. NOAA should set standards for quality (content and accuracy) and adhere to national and international formats for marine navigation information and products. Processes should be put in placebo educate marine chart users on the capabilities and limitations of the new electronic products that are now emerging. The mission of NOAA's nautical charting activities should be to provide certified digital nautical data and information in formats that are responsive to existing and emerging user requirements. NOAA should take steps to make these data and information easily available to users and to promulgate standards on data certification and transfer processes to ensure the quality of data that reach end users. Full implementation of this vision will require that NOAA make a transition from a focus on production of paper chart products to a focus on man- agement of a nautical information database. The committee recognizes that this transition cannot take place overnight, and that it will be necessary for NOAA to continue with production system activities in the short term. . .
Representative terms from entire chapter: