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Web alert: IHO updates ECDIS software to improve user experience

03 August 2015

The International Hydrographic Office (IHO) recently published new versions of a number of its ECDIS software performance standards. These updates are designed to give the user a better experience, reduce alarms and improve the functionality of ECDIS.

The improvements are manifested in new versions of four key ECDIS ‘special publications’: 

  1. IHO Specifications for Chart Content and display Aspects of ECDIS S-52 Edition 6.1
  2. IHO Presentation Library  S-52 Annex A Edition 4.0
  3. IHO Test Data Sets for ECDIS S-64 Edition 3.0
  4. IHO Data Protection Scheme S-63 Edition 1.2

S-52 is the IHO special publication which deals with the looks and features of an ENC, once its data has been converted into a visual format by a type approved ECDIS. The features that are displayed and what they look like depend on which version of the S-52 an ECDIS complies with. The IHO have released earlier versions of the S-52 in 2010 and 2008, which required ECDIS users to ensure that their ECDIS software was updated.

It is the plan of the IHO that the new editions of the S-52 and S-64 will come into force on 1 August 2015, with a 12 month transitional period ending on 31 July 2016 which is designed to allow ECDIS users to ensure that their existing software is updated and that they remain compliant. A user may check which version of software their ECDIS is equipped with, however the method for doing so varies between brands. Because of these variations, ECDIS users should consult their ECDIS equipment’s manual to determine the method for doing so. Owners should be able to obtain upgrades to their existing ECDIS software from the original manufacturer of their software in due course.

Amongst the changes due to be introduced by these new editions are:

  1. The ability to turn isolated dangers in shallow water regions on or off
  2. Complete tidal stream information, in a manner similar to paper charts
  3. The introduction of fairway and anchorage names on ENC’s

For full details of how these changes will affect the use of ECDIS, data set tests and the various implementation dates/phases please see here.