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1 Overview of the Nautical Charting Mission The Office of Coast Survey of the National Ocean Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is responsible for providing the nation with its fundamental marine navigational tool: a suite of nautical charts for U.S. waters. NOAA produces and maintains nearly 1,000 nautical chart edi- tions, over 400 bathymetric charts, 9 volumes of Coast Pilot publications, and numerous miscellaneous publications. About 1.4 million charts are printed and sold each year. Nearly 40 percent of these charts are provided to the U.S. mili- tary; the rest are used by commercial shipping and fisheries industries and recre- ational boaters. A growing list of new users includes state and local environmen- tal managers. A 1994 study by the Marine Board of the National Research Council ad- dressed users' needs for nautical information, the collection of source data from hydrographic surveys, the emergence of a nautical geographic information sys- tem, chart production issues, and other topics (NRC, 1994a). The study concluded that the key to successfully responding to the challenges of transition is for NOAA to focus its nautical charting program activities on building and managing the digital nautical information database and to seek partnerships with the private sector and other federal and state agencies in fulfilling the other components of the nautical charting mission-specifically the collection of survey data and prod- uct development and dissemination (NRC, 1994a). The process of creating nautical charts is undergoing a technological revolu- tion. Chart information traditionally has been provided in the form of paper prod- ucts. The expanded use of computers and electronic display systems is creating a demand for nautical digital data. NOAA's nautical charting mission is evolving from that of producing a one-product finished paper chart series to that of creating 4

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OVERVIEW 5 and maintaining a digital database from which many products, analyses, and ser- vices can flow to customers. This database will provide many new opportunities and advantages. It will automate the production of charts, introduce new graphic products, and allow for the design of chart products at scales and with features specifically suited to user needs. It can also provide information for advanced ship navigation and piloting systems and provide data for geographic information systems. The transition from paper to electronic charts is well under way and will continue to change the way the nautical chart and associated information is pro- duced and delivered to users. The least complex digital chart is a rasters image that can be displayed on a screen and geo-referenced and overlaid with real-time navigation. The more com- plex and powerful digital nautical chart data sets are a complete vector collection of all nautical chart features and their attributes. The International Maritime Or- ganization (IMO) and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) have established standards and formats for vector-based systems known as the Elec- tronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). AUTOMATED NAUTICAL CHARTING SYSTEM (ANCS II) AND SUPER2 COMPUTER-ASSISTED REVISION SYSTEM/ COMPUTER-ASSISTED COMPILATION (SCARS/CAC) By the mid-1980s, increasing costs and limited updating capabilities led NOAA to seek changes in the traditional chart production process through com- puter-assisted cartography. In 1988 NOAA contracted for the design and devel- opment of the Automated Nautical Charting System (ANCS II). The original design for ANCS II was to eliminate manual negative engraving, decrease throughput time for production of up-dated paper charts, and provide flexibility to rescheme the chart suite. The objectives of the original design anticipated the demand for generating electronic chart data, but these capabilities have not been implemented. As designed, ANCS II contains two major database elements: the nautical information database (NIDB) and the chart graphics database (CGDB). The NIDB is a spatial database of features relevant to NOAA's nautical charting responsibil- ity. This database tracks all features through time and references features to origi- nal documents and data. However, the NIDB is not a source database, which is iVector data describe individual features by geographic coordinates and attributions. Geographic data stored in vector format can be manipulated and interrogated by logic built into the software; it enables "intelligent" queries and analyses of the features embodied in the data. Pure raster data, by contrast, are simply digital pictures and do not readily lend themselves to intelligent manipulation; such data have the advantage of being easier to display. 2"Super" is used to describe the quality of the system, not the type of platform on which the system resides.

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6 NAUTICAL CHART PROGRAM defined as data collected from hydrographic soundings made from a ship or other platform. The CGDB contains information about how particular features are rep- resented in chart graphic panels that make up specific charts in NOAA's chart suite. Paper charts are produced for chart graphic panels. This process is de- scribed in detail in a technical review and evaluation of ANCS II (Goodchild et al., 1995~. In mid-1995 the ANCS II system was accepted for use by NOAA, and the NIDB and CGDB are now being loaded with limited data. Faced with an extensive and largely unfunded effort to load the ANCS II database with vector data, NOAA has recently pursued a second approach to automating its paper chart production system. This approach entails the prepara- tion and maintenance of digital raster images of each color separate for each chart. These raster images are much less expensive to generate because they do not require vectorization and attribution. The images can be edited and used to produce new color separates, thereby reducing delays associated with printing new editions. Two capabilities were designed and brought into operation. The first is the super computer-assisted revision system (SCARS). SCARS imports raster-scanned charts and revised features into a digital-raster-editing environ- ment. This system allows NOAA to quickly revise raster files of color separates. The second system, the Computer-Assisted Compilation (CAC), is a digital com- pilation technique that imports vector (as well as raster) nautical chart data di- rectly into a PC-based digital-raster-editing environment. These two systems operate independently of ANCS II and have given NOAA the capability to produce raster chart files. However, the SCARS/CAC system cannot produce vector electronic charts that are currently required by the interna- tional maritime community for use in an officially recognized ECDIS. CONCERNS ABOUT NAUTICAL CHARTING ACTIVITIES Recent examinations of NOAA's nautical charting activities have raised questions about the efficacy and value of the ANCS II effort and have also called for an evaluation of the activities to produce raster products. The 1994 study by the Marine Board (discussed above) of the National Research Council (NRC, 1994a) noted that it is not clear that present plans and processes surrounding ANCS II can be extended efficiently and readily to support the content and com- pilation requirements of future digital products. However, a detailed analysis was beyond the scope of that study. A review by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of Informa- tion Resources Management (IRM, 1995) at NOAA raised additional questions about the lack of an implementation strategy to address operations and mainte- nance of ANCS II once it is operational. The IRM report raises concerns about whether present expertise and resources in the Nautical Charting Division at NOAA are available or allocated in a way that would provide sufficient support for ANCS II.

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OVERVIEW 7 Both the Commerce and the IRM estimate that loading the ANCS II data- bases (NIDB and CGDB) with all information presently contained in NOAA's suite of paper charts may cost approximately $20 million (about $20,000 per chart). The IRM (1995) report stated: Funds for this one-time loading are not dedicated and, furthermore, the esti- mated cost does not include funding that will be needed to upgrade and maintain the application and the database. In addition, the $20 million estimate to load the 950 charts into the ANCS II database has not been validated Trough a detailed analysis. To better understand these cost estimates, this committee developed a set of costs based on specific assumptions that suggest that the NIDB alone could be loaded for about $4 million. Assumptions underlying the committee's cost calcu- lations include acquisition of digitized charts from the Defense Mapping Agency for U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard home ports and do not include costs for loading the CGDB. A detailed discussion of the assumptions underlying this analysis are found in appendix E. Both the previous National Research Council Marine Board study and the IRM report raised the question of whether the diversion of limited resources into the production of raster products will contribute to NOAA's capability to meet the future need for vector digital nautical charts. The NRC committee (NRC, 1994a) stated: While the raster database approach may lead to faster turn around times for new editions of some paper charts in the short term, there are questions about its overall efficiency. Moreover, this approach does not advance NOAA towards a single unified vector-based master digital nautical database. A concern expressed in the IRM (1995) review is whether ANCS II (and the SCARS and CAC effort) "can bring NOS [National Ocean Service] into the era of vector digital nautical charts," or whether these are costly and inefficient diver- sions of scarce resources (IRM, 1995~. The IRM report expresses an additional concern about whether implementation and management mechanisms are in place (as well as dedicated funds) to properly operate and maintain the ANCS II sys- tem. In response to these concerns, NOAA contracted for a technical review of the ANCS II system (Goodchild et al., 1995~. The technical review team was tasked with the following: Conduct a thorough technical review of the current and planned capabili- ties of ANCS II and the technical aspects of its relationship to other chart production automation efforts, including SCARS and CAC. Analyze the technical options for bringing the National Ocean Service (NOS) into the era of digital production of nautical charts, with particular emphasis on vector- or feature-based approaches, costs, and maintenance of hardware and software in the long term.

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8 NAUTICAL CHART PROGRAM Analyze the technical and cost issues involved in loading such a database with digital charts and the alternative strategies available to NOS. Provide a report that discusses and prioritizes courses of action in each of these areas. The technical review team found that ANCS II as developed . . . is unable to deliver the full range of products now expected in a timely and cost-effective fashion. SCARS, which has been developed more recently to pro- vide a cost-effective solution to certain more narrowly defined problems, is also not suitable as a comprehensive solution. Finally, the status quo, with SCARS and a partially loaded and partially operational ANCS II, involves unnecessary division and duplication of effort. The technical review team recommended that . . . in the short term, NOS should develop a solution that uses subsets of ANCS II, along with partial loading of the NIDB, in conjunction with raster chart main- tenance. In the long term, NOS should concentrate its efforts on database main- tenance and quality control, and develop partnership agreements under which the private sector is able to focus on meeting customer demand for specific, value-added products. ERA OF CHANGE None of the existing systems (ANCS II, SCARS, CAC) was intended to meet the needs that are now perceived as a long-term objective of NOAA's nautical charting activities: to fully load and maintain a vector digital nautical database and to meet emerging requirements and standards for electronic chart display information. In 1993 NOAA began a series of initiatives to understand emerging user needs, to respond to the immediate demand for more frequent revisions of paper nautical charts, and to rapidly develop an electronic raster chart capability. These initiatives included the following: NOAA held customer meetings and conducted market surveys. This in- formation has been integrated into their operating plans. NOAA developed the SCARS/CAC chart revision system to accelerate paper chart revisions and to create a raster chart production capability. NOAA established a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with private industry. The CRADA permitted exclusive use of federal intellectual property by a commercial firm to market and distrib- uted raster digital charts on CD-ROM. NOAA commissioned external evaluations of the ANCS II project. To accelerate the collection of hydrographic data, NOAA initiated con- tracts from the private sector to conduct hydrographic surveys.

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OVERVIEW 9 NOAA has worked with marine industry organizations in a joint effort to develop a hybrid vector/raster chart prototype. These initiatives have demonstrated a proactive commitment by NOAA to the needs of its traditional nautical chart customers. However, the development of new navigation and software technologies is changing the demand for marine information and calls into question current programs at NOAA that were de- signed to meet a different set of requirements and expectations.