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Evolution of Information Needs and Products CUSTOMERS AND THEIR NEEDS The availability of rapidly evolving information technology provides new options for how nautical data is managed, disseminated, and used. Digital tech- nology gives data producers and data users powerful tools to store, transmit, up- date, view, and manipulate information about the marine environment. The nauti- cal charting world reflects these changes in a growing demand for digital data sets to support electronic charts and other uses of marine geographic information in new, automated nautical chart production systems. As such, the nautical charting effort is part of a broader National Spatial Data Infrastructure (see NRC, 19931. Recent technological advances in electronic charting are being received with enthusiasm. Electronic chart systems can improve the safety and efficiency of navigation, and the international legal requirements to carry paper charts have been modified to allow the use of a certified electronic chart display information system in place of paper charts (WEND, 1996) if a system is certified in compli- ance with international standards (IMO, 1994~. However, other hurdles remain to be surmounted before the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) replaces paper charts (e.g., the availability of vector data for major sea routes and ports, changes in regulations of national agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard). At the same time, many other mariners, including small craft op- erators, will continue to depend on traditional paper products. Also, a nontradi- tional category of users of nautical information is emerging that seeks informa- tion about coastal areas for purposes of environmental assessment, management, regulation, and planning. These users require access to a nautical information database as part of a larger marine and coastal geographic information system (GIS) approach (NRC, 1994a). 10
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EVOLUTION OF INFORMATION NEEDS AND PRODUCTS 1 1 The needs of these different user communities do not necessarily represent divergent requirements because the digital data required to support electronic navigation can provide the basis for more timely revisions of paper charts. Traditional Users It is now possible to use digital chart data in electronic navigation systems that can automate position plotting and improve the safety and efficiency of navi- gation. Surveys of users conducted in conjunction with the earlier NRC report (NRC, 1994a) and a recent series of regional workshops conducted by NOAA indicate that some segments of the marine navigation market will adopt this new technology rapidly, but many mariners, including a substantial portion of the recreational boating population, will have neither the ability nor the interest to use ECDIS, although there is a market in this community for other electronic chart products. A real need remains, therefore, for accurate, current, and timely paper charts. Among those expected to adopt electronic charting in the near future are the military (both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard have made commitments to digital navigation) and the tanker and cruise ship industries. Some large com- mercial vessels are adopting electronic chart navigation to attain improved navi- gation capability during difficult weather conditions, such as year-round naviga- tion on the St. Lawrence Seaway; however, other segments of the world's large-vessel commercial fleets (estimated to be about 50,000 vessels worldwide) may be slower to convert to electronic charts because of the cost of these systems. Recreational boaters are the largest segment of the U.S. boating community, num- bering some 12 million. It is likely that paper charts will continue to be widely used in this community. As NOAA changes its production methods, the opportunity arises to rethink how paper charts should look. In the future, paper and raster charts will be com- piled from vector data. For some chart features, it may be possible to modify their appearance with minimal loss of functionality, while at the same time simplifying the process of developing and maintaining the database and reducing the cost of producing paper and raster charts from vector data. To achieve these cost savings and efficiencies it may be necessary to change not only NOAA procedures and policies, but also to participate in developing revised international symbolization standards. Nontraditional Users The NRC report Charting a Course into the Digital Era (NRC, 1994a) de- f~nes the nontraditional users of nautical charting information as non-navigation users in disciplines that use charts as a geographic basis for analyzing and dis- playing oceanographic, geophysical, or topographical information. A rapidly
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12 NAUTICAL CHART PROGRAM expanding example of this use of nautical information is for fisheries stock as- sessment and fisheries enforcement functions. Analyses of coastal resources usually have little to do with the navigation characteristics of the near-shore waters. Non-navigation users are generally inter- ested in supplemental digital data that provide information specific to coastal resource management. Data coverage includes shoreline physiography, salinity, turbidity, environmental geology, and "ridded bathymetric data models to sup- port water circulation studies and storm surge predictions, as well as other vari- ables of interest. The NOAA Office of Resources Conservation and Assessment is already acting as a clearinghouse for these types of data. The number and variety of these non-navigation applications have grown enox~ously during the 1990s. Almost every national and state-level organization involved in coastal environmental management (including the U.S. Fish and Wild- life Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and NOAA) uses GIS to man- age coastal resources under their various jurisdictions. GIS users will continue to be a major consumer of any digital (raster or vector) nautical data that can be provided by NOAA or its agents. DIGITAL CHART SYSTEMS There are two major classifications of electronic charts: electronic chart sys- tems (ECSs) and the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). Both ECS and ECDIS consist of an electronic chart integrated with electronic navigation positioning equipment that presents the mariner with a picture of the ship's position relative to surrounding topographic features and navigation aids. A detailed description of ECS and ECDIS can be found in appendix D. An ECDIS must comply with performance standards established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and is defined as "a navigation infor- mation system which with adequate back-up arrangements can be accepted as complying with the up-to-date chart required by Regulation V, Chapter 20 of the 1974 Safety of Life-at-Sea (SOLAS) convention." At the present time, the per- formance standard for an internationally recognized ECDIS requires vector data to be issued under the authority of a hydrographic source in the S-57 format (IMO, 19944. An ECDIS functions with all chart data in vector format, which provides the capability to select subsets of the data for display and provide vector overlays for other data sets in raster format (e.g., radar displays). An ECS is any other type of electronic chart system that does not comply with the S-57 format and, therefore, currently requires the carriage of up-to-date (paper) charts to satisfy SOLAS requirements. An ECS can use either raster or vector data, or combina- tions of both. More than simply a color graphics display, electronic charts form the basis of real-time navigation systems that combine charting, positioning, and textual
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EVOLUTION OF INFORMATION NEEDS AND PRODUCTS 13 information into a useful operational tool. Any type of electronic chart that func- tions as a real-time navigation system has four basic components: 1. computer processor 2. digital database (i.e., electronic chart data) 3. navigation sensor inputs (e.g., global positioning system [GPS], Loran) 4. display Additional shipboard sensor inputs may include the ship's gyrocompass, depth sounder, marine radar, or automated radar piloting aid information. Other navigation-related information could be displayed as well. This could include tides and water levels, current flow, wind speed and direction, ice cover, visibil- ity, or the location of other vessels beyond visual or radar range (Alexander, 1995; NRC, 1994b). Electronic charts also provide mariners with additional, pertinent decision-making information in a timely and useful form, and if applied correctly to navigation decisions, the number of vessel groundings and colli- sions may be expected to decrease (Casey and Goodyear, 1994; Kite-Powell and Jin, 1996). Electronic charts are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their capability and usefulness. Both raster- and vector-based systems are available. Raster-based systems are becoming more useful with the addition of selected vector data ele- ments. Raster charts can provide mariners with comprehensive digital charts at a time when full-vector data are not yet available. In many cases raster charts can be very effective (Terry and Anderson, 1993; Alexander, 1995~. However, use of raster charts severely limits the extent to which the display can be customized- a major advantage of vector data. Emerging trends point to the possibility of more flexible IMO regulations (regarding ECDIS standards) to include a raster component in the future. These include: Use of limited-vector data sets. These data sets include selected, essential data such as fixed and floating aids, channel limits, highly selective depth information, shoreline, etc. Raster combined with ECDIS. Vector content for limited themes such as navigation aids or channel limits is displayed adjacent to or as an overlay to the raster chart image. Very-large-scale chart data for docking and maneuvering. Data sources include low-altitude aerial photography and geodetic surveys, as well as engineering drawings of port and harbor structures (e.g., docks, seawalls, breakwaters, etch. · Textual information. Contains written information such as sailing direc- tions, list of lights, water levels (predicted and real time). Although the current approval of ECDIS by IMO states categorically that vector data must be used in a compliant ECDIS, future amendments may include
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14 NAUTICAL CHART PROGRAM a provision for hybrid data (that is, the use of raster data in conjunction with vector data) to be used during the interim until vector data is available (WEND, 1996~. In this mode of presentation, vector data is generally used for limited critical parameters, such as channel boundaries, and then overlaid on the raster chart image. A number of hydrographic offices worldwide are now producing raster data, and an experiment is under way to integrate the two types of data sets. NOAA has entered into a demonstration project with the San Francisco Bar Pilots to develop a product and delivery system that use a hybrid vector database (NOS, 19951. Selected themes (such as aids to navigation, channel boundaries, critical obstruc- tions, etc.) in raster format can be rapidly collected, easily maintained, and readily distributed in vector format. DATABASE REQUIREMENTS The expanding base of customer requirements, combined with rapid advances in technology, have lead to the consideration of changes in both the nautical in- formation products and the processes for producing them. Although the primary role of NOAA's nautical charting mission is to help assure safety of navigation and support a wide range of maritime enterprises such as commercial transport, naval operations, fishing, and recreational boating, nautical information is of in- creasing importance to coastal land development, research, conservation, and coastal zone planning. To meet this broad and growing array of user needs, a previous NRC committee recommended that NOAA set its first priority in nauti- cal charting on the development and maintenance of a digital nautical informa- tion database (NRC, 1994a). The current NOAA nautical charting mission requires that it support existing paper chart production, provide ECDIS compliant data, and supply a basic set of coastal and marine environmental information for GIS applications and scientific research. Figure 2-1 illustrates the committee's concept of public- and private-sector partnerships and suggests a changing role for NOAA in the future. The figure depicts the required tasks and a general flow of nautical information from source data collection through the distribution of existing paper and future electronic end-user products. Critical to the success of this concept is improved cooperation among government agencies, industry organizations, and private industries to pro- vide contractual support services and expertise in the development, integration, marketing, and distribution of end-user products. A brief description of each re- quired task shown in figure 2-1 is discussed in detail in the following sections. Source Data Collection and Validation Source data for nautical charting is currently supplied in both digital and paper formats from nearly 60 different sources. Efforts are under way to increase
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6 NAUTICAL CHART PROGRAM the supply of more efficient digital source information in the form of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USAGE) blueprints and U.S. Coast Guard Notice to Mari- ners. Digital hydrographic surveys from NOAA, USACE, the U.S. Navy, and private industry provide the majority of available digital source materials to sup- port the nautical charting mission. In recent years, NOAA has primarily relied on digital source information collected from its own hydrographic surveys. Reduced funding has severely lim- ited NOAA's ability to conduct surveys and has resulted in a renewed effort to cooperate with other government agencies and the maritime community to fully use all available data sources. To make these data acceptable, NOAA will need to establish appropriate field standards and procedures to ensure the quality of hy- drographic surveys from both public and private sources. NOAA has begun to develop such standards to facilitate its own contract surveys. If these field survey standards were accessible to all interested parties, privately funded survey activi- ties (e.g., by port authorities or shipping companies) could contribute to the NOAA data collection effort. In addition to field standards and procedures, NOAA would need to adopt consistent digital data formats to facilitate the transfer of survey data to its pro- duction systems and to decrease data processing times. NOAA must be able to digitally process more new source data to achieve overall production efficiencies (NRC, 1994a). Database Maintenance Although use of the ANCS II nautical information database may be one al- ternative for the development of an information database, NOAA will also need to evaluate the latest capabilities of commercial off-the-shelf database manage- ment systems. Commercially available systems have a wide range of applications and offer powerful tools to manage large complex databases. These systems can be quickly deployed, can be easily supported and upgraded, and are often more cost effective than customized software developed in-house. Chart and Data Production NOAA should be commended for its successful development and quick de- ployment of the Super Computer-Assisted Revision System and the Computer- Assisted Compilation tool sets that significantly increase the revision rate of pa- per charts. However, a more comprehensive longer-term solution is needed to support the production of both paper charts and digital data. In particular, com- mercial software capabilities need to be examined to determine if they could fulfill some of the functions of ANCS II (see chapter 4~.
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EVOLUTION OF INFORMATION NEEDS AND PRODUCTS 17 Certification and Quality Assurance Quality assurance and eventual database certification remain the responsibil- ity of national hydrographic offices. It is desirable to obtain certification of the complete data production process by the International Standards Organization (ISO), not only from a liability perspective, but certification may also be required by some governments. ISO standards are a voluntary quality system that requires organizations (public or private) to document their procedures and submit to au- dits by independent registrars. In addition, because of government control over electronic chart presentation, issues of sovereign immunity and product liability remain open to debate. Currently, IMO has determined that only hydrographic offices can supply official digital data required to support ECDIS. Therefore it is the responsibility of each hydrographic office to ensure its own data integrity and authenticity. Marketing and Distribution NOAA has successfully used private contractors and a network of commer- cial chart agents to assist in the distribution and marketing of paper charts. These efforts were expanded in 1995 through the use of a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) and subsequent agreement to license a pri- vate-sector partner to commercialize raster chart technology developed under the CRADA. NOAA' s CRADA partner is now marketing and disseminating a raster chart product that resulted from the CRADA. As vector data become available, the marketplace will begin to demand varia- tions of chart display presentations, including combinations of raster, hybrid, and vector data formats. If NOAA is to concentrate on building and maintaining a digital nautical database, the task of developing, integrating, marketing, and dis- tributing a variety of electronic end-user products must eventually fall to the pri- vate sector (NRC, 1994a). However, for the foreseeable future, NOAA will need to establish procedures for certification and interchange of nautical information that is critical to navigation safety.
Representative terms from entire chapter: