Why aren’t more Ports producing their own Electronic Navigational Charts?
Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs) are produced by national Hydrographic Offices (HOs) and distributed directly to users, via regional centres and via value added resellers. Naturally, the range of ENCs available includes the approaches to major ports and harbours, the harbours themselves and sometimes larger scale ENCs of individual berths. These ‘official’ ENCs contain data that has been acquired by ports and submitted to the national HO. In nearly all cases, the number and type of features, the resolution and often the accuracy and currency of data provided by the port is different to that contained in the resultant official ENC. This is because the national HO generalises the data provided by the port to make official ENCs relevant to a wider navigational user base, meaning that official ENCs do not meet the operational needs of a modern and dynamic port. Moreover, the time taken for national HOs to produce and update official ENCs is much longer than is desirable to the port.
So, we wonder why don’t more ports produce their own ENCs? There are many reasons for this including perhaps a lack of technical understanding about the processes necessary to create them. However, most ports either already acquire the data needed to create ENCs for other purposes dredging assessment, planning and licensing; port and coastal engineering; environment protection and conservancy to name a few or could obtain this data fairly easily. What many ports do not realise is that this data asset can also be used to create ENCs using software and expertise that is readily available. Presently, ENCs that the port produces can be used internally within the port, in VTS or on Portable Pilot Units, for example, for detailed berthing or manoeuvring of vessels and in place of paper charts. Where these ENCs have a limited feature set e.g. seabed depth, they are known as Bathymetric ENCs or Port ENCs. In the future though, there is no reason why ports cannot produce their own ‘official’ ENCs and publish these in exactly the same way as national HOs, thus gaining control and potential revenue, avoiding duplication and ensuring the most up to date and accurate data is available to all users.
For more information on how we are helping Peel Ports and Associated British Ports improve their data management processes and create their own ENCs, download the Case Study or contact us directly at email@example.com.