BLAST

Managing nautical publications across boundaries

MDCS
The Maritime Data Collection System is a prototype platform for managing nautical charts and publications around the North Sea. It includes the full contents of paper charts and publications (not for navigational purposes) and permits registered users to submit suggestions, comments and changes. A mariner at sea could well be the first to observe that a buoy is damaged or missing, for example, and this system constitutes a simple platform for registration of the missing bouy without requiring the mariner to seek the correct contact information for the responsible hydrographic office. The Maritime Data Collection System can also be used by harbour managers to submit plans for harbour renovations and other changes to the physical maritime environment that must be included in Notices to Mariners and updated in both charts and publications.
 
The System also includes a switch-board that can be used by national agencies to administrate the sharing of information and responsibility. For example, an report of maintenance of a navigation aid can be shared among a country's hydrographic office, maritime safety agency, pilot office and any other relevant authorities. The switchboard can be used to avoid laboursom approval processes and to clearly identify which organisation is handling a case at any point in time. The system has been developed by Jeppesen GmbH and is available in prototype form to the BLAST partners.
 
Mapping prose
Alongside nautical charts, most hydrographic offices also maintain a number of publications such as Harbour Pilots, Sailing Directions and Lists of Lights. The majority of information in these publications is geographic in nature and provides further details about elements in the nautical charts. BLAST's working group on Navigating the North Sea has conducted a test process for linking publication text to charted locations. These efforts will assist the North Sea countries to move towards implementation of the International Hydrographic Organisation's NP3 standard, which seeks to integrate further maritime information in digital chart displays.
 
The harmonisation efforts were conducted by the German, Danish and Norwegian hydrographic offices. Each participating partner worked with a section of a nautical publication and developed ties between the passages in prose and the locations in the chart. In many cases, the linkages were clear and logical; in other cases, text passages referred to multiple geographies or, alternatively, to "unchartable" geographies. The results of this trial demonstrated that much nautical information can be tied directly into the charts and that implementation of the IHO's NP3 standard should be feasible. However, the less clear linkages between text and chart can require significant resources to clarify, and in some cases, the linkages are so tenuous that publication formats are preferred.
 
Despite the challenges that the trial has introduced, the BLAST work on harmonising nautical publications has paved the way for project partners to begin addressing how nautical publications can best be produced and maintained in the future.

Copyright 2010, BLAST - Bringing Land and Sea Together.