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5 Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations SUMMARY The mission or primary long-term objective of NOAA's nautical charting activities should be to provide certified nautical data and information in formats that are responsive to existing and emerging user requirements. This is consistent with the recommendations of the National Research Council Committee on Nau- tical Charts and Information (NRC, 1994a), which suggested that: Development, maintenance, certification, quality control, and evolution of a single digital nautical database should be NOAA's core mission in nautical chart- ing and information (emphasis in originals. A similar change of focus was recommended to the National Mapping Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (NRC, 1990~. This vision requires a transition within NOAA's nautical charting program from a focus on production to a focus on data management. As such a transition takes place, it will be necessary to continue with production system activities in the short term. A near-term goal for NOAA should be to obtain all relevant data needed to support an evaluation of the three alternative approaches described in chapter 4 as soon as possible. All production system development activity up to that point should be guided by the need to generate accurate cost and performance data to compare the alternatives. Based on its assessment of available (but limited) infor- mation, the committee considers alternative 2 (partial ANCS II with SCARS/ CAC) to be the most likely feasible, near-term path forward, and alternative 3 (SCARS/CAC plus COTS, no ANCS II) to be the most feasible long-term objective. The merger of SCARS/CAC with the vector database (NIDB or its equivalent) 34

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FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS 35 will allow NOAA to provide more effective support for current production re- quirements and to migrate to a completely open-system architecture in the future. The final decision, however, should be guided by the recommended analysis of tradeoffs between existing and COTS components. The use of ANCS II beyond what is needed to generate data to support the decisions, as well as any migration of ANCS II components, should be postponed until after the decisions are made. The start-up of continual maintenance under SCARS/CAC of a full chart suite should also be postponed until earlier recommendations are acted on (i.e., the analysis of tradeoffs and the determination of the most feasible, near-term path forward). FINDINGS Finding 1. NOAA should modernize the nautical information and chart process to efficiently and effectively take advantage of new technology. Finding 2. In the future, the primary (but not exclusive) role of NOAA in provid- ing nautical information will be that of a data manager Finding 3. Paper charts will continue to be needed for the foreseeable future; however, they will be produced from digital data. Finding 4. Since ANCS II was first envisioned and commissioned, technology has advanced so that COTS solutions are now available for many system compo- nents of a digital production system. Finding 5. Data certification and interchange standards are needed to facilitate collection and use of source information from a variety of public and private sources. Finding 6. Quality assurance standards are needed to ensure that data meet legal requirements and provide for safety of navigation, especially when the data are packaged and distributed by private companies. Finding 7. User requirements need to be incorporated into planning for produc- tion of nautical information products. CONCLUSIONS Conclusion 1. To meet the nation's needs for nautical information, NOAA should adopt a new vision of its role that emphasizes data management and certification of a digital nautical database. The long-term goal is a certified, full-vector, digital nautical information database and associated information products accessible to

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36 NAUTICAL CHART PROGRAM the public through an electronic data warehouse with appropriate standards for data certification and interchange procedures. In the short-term, raster and lim- ited-vector (hybrid) data are useful stepping stones on the path to the full-vector database. Conclusion 2. In the long term, an open-architecture, standards-based, COTS 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. RECOMMENDATIONS Recommendation 1. NOAA should move toward an open-architecture, stan- dards-based, COTS approach to building a nautical information system. Recommendation 2. NOAA should not proceed with the implementation of ANCS II as presently configured. Recommendation 3. NOAA should evaluate each component of the existing sys- tems (ANCS II, SCARS, and CAC) in terms of performance and life-cycle cost and compare them to a COTS alternative. The outcome of this evaluation should be used to support choices among existing system components and COTS alter- natives by the end of fiscal 1996. Recommendation 4. Following the outcome of the above-recommended evalua- tion, NOAA should implement, as soon as possible, an automated production environment from the surviving components of existing systems or the COTS alternatives to perform the following functions: import of data maintenance of a vector database output to raster, paper, vector, and hybrid products Recommendation 5. NOAA's information systems migration plan should define and reflect the NOAA agencywide hardware and communications approach, in- cluding software and data objectives. This would allow NOAA management, hardware and software developers, and other agencies that interface with NOAA systems to achieve on-going phased systems evolution. Recommendation 6. Develop and implement, by the year 2000, a plan to move from the present focus on production of nautical chart products to a focus on data management including the establishment of a data warehouse, and related stan- dards and procedures, to ensure quality of data. The data management system should include the following elements:

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FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS 37 standards (e.g., electronic transfer standards) to facilitate collection and use of source information from public and private sources procedures and standards for the interchange of data for data resellers and vendors of electronic chart products to ensure that end products comply with international legal requirements and that they maximize navigation safety an organizational transition plan to address associated human and institu- tional resource requirements Recommendation 7. Load the vector database from the following sources in order of priority: existing source data (selected themes only) Defense Mapping Agency Digital Nautical Chart paper charts new survey data Recommendation 8. NOAA should expand outreach programs (in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard) to continue acquiring feedback from users through focus groups and testing of prototype products. Recommendation 9. NOAA should seek expanded partnerships with other fed- eral agencies (e.g., Defense Mapping Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Coast Guard) that conduct related activities to share data and with the private sector to coordinate production of nautical information products and data exchange. NOAA should work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other private-sector providers of data toward common data formats for digital transmission to the National Ocean Service. Recommendation 10. NOAA should evaluate and adopt appropriate spatial data transfer standards and maintain active representation on the international com- mittees charged with developing and approving these standards. The harmoniza- tion of this evaluation and adoption process is an important step.

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APPENDICES

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