Tag Archives: ECDIS

Post-Sandy weather review

I started this post the day after Hurricane Sandy brushed past, but had forgotten about it. Perhaps it will be of interest even though it’s a bit out of date.

Here are a few pieces of information I had my hands on over the past couple of days as Sandy went by. I have a weather station and had my eyes glued to it as the storm came through.

Some weather station plots for the days prior to and just after the storm:

KMDBALTI22 weather station graphs 30 Oct 12

You can see very clearly when the storm came through by the various plots – deep “valley” in barometric pressure (new record low for my station – 961.59mB) and a peak in rain rate and wind speed. Curiously, there wasn’t a wind speed record set – it may be that we were on the “good” side of the storm, or it may be that my anemometer was malfunctioning – I replaced it a few days later.

I use Lightsoft Weather Center (LWC) software; unfortunately the developer got very ill and no longer supports the software. It still works fairly well, but I may need to replace it as it ages.

GRIB weather data (as presented on MacENC)

I don’t know much about GRIBs, and my area of interest in weather data is usually much smaller  than their resolution provides, but with the size of Sandy it really shows a good overview of the forecast conditions.

And below is some history for comparison: a few scans of old weatherfax sheets from a ship I was aboard in the mid-1990s in Alaskan waters. We frequently had strong non-tropical storms. Sandy’s lowest pressure was 943 mB; the lowest I recorded during Sandy was 961.59 mB.

Here’s a wicked looking 964 mB low from October 1995 (I think – may have been 1994?)

And here’s a 946 from December 1995(?)

This may have been the one where we holed up in Lost Harbor, Akun Island near Akutan Harbor and anchored in a sheltered bay where we saw sustained 80-knot winds. These storms are very different than hurricanes – “cold core” vs “warm core” and tend to come through in “trains” across the North Pacific.

I delayed updating my iPhone 4s to iOS 6 as I had heard complaints about the new Maps app. Apparently Apple has created their own and gone away from the original Google Maps-based app. However, my compulsion to keep my software updated overruled my reluctance, and I upgraded and found it wasn’t that bad. The car-GPS-like directions are pretty cool, and I haven’t had some of the problems I had feared, such as lack of points of interest. I haven’t used it too much, so we’ll see how it works once I travel some more and use it in places I’m unfamiliar with to try to find things.

"Patomic Park"

One problem I have noticed (that is a real howler IMHO) is the misidentification of a place that is fairly well-known and documented (see image at right). “East Patomic Park” is how it shows up in the new Maps app; right next to the “Potomac River.”

I’m really scratching my head how this could happen, as it’s not a new park – it’s spelled correctly on the USGS topographic map (image below) which was compiled in 1965 (and updated in 1983, though not the park). I thought most digital map data was taken from these sources as well as drawn from public map databases, such as those maintained by USGS, NOAA, Census and others.USGS Potomac Park

For what it’s worth, here’s what the same area looks like in Google Maps (since I don’t have the old Maps app anymore):

Google Maps Potomac Park

So, what does this have to do with e-Navigation and ECDIS (the supposed topic of this blog, or this post, at least)? Well, I think it illustrates one of the main challenges that will be faced in the implementation of e-Navigation. One would think that relatively minor issues such as this would have been worked out by now – the locations haven’t changed in many years, electronic maps have been around for a couple of decades at least, and with the ability to cross check multiple data sources errors like this shouldn’t last long. But they still do, apparently.

This should cause concern for those who seek to implement e-Navigation. End users (navigators, VTS officers, dispatchers, regulators, etc.) need to rely on the information that is being presented to them. They way to do this is through a well-thought out data architecture that needs to include common data formats and identification of authoritative sources. The authoritative sources, or “data stewards,” need to ensure the data they are responsible for is correct and there is a means for flagging incorrect data and pushing updates in a prompt manner.

Much easier said than done, I know, but fortunately there are concerted efforts to tackle this problem. Internationally, the e-Navigation Architecture is a key part of IMO e-Navigation development. In the US, the Federal Initiative for Navigation Data Enhancement (FINDE) is working on US-specific data architecture efforts. This is the least “sexy” work there is in e-Navigation, however I contend it is the most important. Since the definition of e-Navigation is “harmonized [management and exchange] of navigation information,” the integrity of that information is of paramount importance.

eNavigation 2012 – Consider the following…

In preparation for the eNavigation 2012 conference in Seattle, WA 6-7 November 2012, you are asked to consider the following questions:

  1. What operational or business challenges do you currently face that e-navigation could solve? 
  2. What do you see as the role of the Federal Government in e-navigation? 
  3. What e-Navigation solution(s) should the Federal Government pursue as its highest priority? 
  4. What is the most effective way for the Federal Government to collaborate with the maritime industry on the development of e-navigation policies and services?

If you attend the conference (and I strongly urge you to do so), please give some consideration to these questions and provide your input during the discussion periods. Feel free to comment here as well.

eNavigation 2012: Defining the solutions

The 12th annual e-Navigaton conference in Seattle, WA is fast approaching. I encourage you to attend and participate in the development of the e-Navigation concept.

This conference started in 2001 as the AIS conference, and a few years later the organizers recognized that the e-Navigation concept was as little-understood as AIS was at the conception of the first conference, so the name and focus was changed.

This conference is the only one of its type in North America, and probably unique in the world. Attendees include the shipping industry, harbor pilots, government representatives, equipment manufacturers, and many more. It is a fantastic forum for information exchange about e-Navigation developments and they encourage dialog amongst attendees and presenters. The final session of the conference for the past several years has been dedicated to a review and open discussion of the main issues raised.

This year the conference features strong representation and participation of the CMTS e-Navigation Integrated Action Team, an interagency team that is working to implement e-Navigation in the United States. Also, immediately following the conference PIANC is holding the first meeting of its e-Navigation working group.

So come to Seattle in November!