Kelvin Hughes

Situational Intelligence, The World Over


ECDIS checks highlight importance of using reputable systems with global software support

Last year the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) distributed check data in the form of two fictitious electronic navigational charts (ENCs) that allowed mariners to check aspects of ECDIS operation and gave manufacturers such as Kelvin Hughes the opportunity to remove any inconsistencies.

As part of its on-going development and readiness for total reliance on digital data, Kelvin Hughes has delivered software upgrades to ensure that its ECDIS products comply with the latest data presentation performance tests. “Our EDCIS software is being continuously developed and fine-tuned and the latest upgrades iron out some small inconsistencies that were noted by running the check dataset produced by the IHO,” said Dr. Steve Tucker, Kelvin Hughes’ head of ECDIS development.

Sent to ships in a routine chart update in October 2011, the check data was intended to help mariners identify if their particular ECDIS was able to display all the latest IMO-approved features required on charts. It was also designed to highlight if particular display concerns were present in the ECDIS being tested. “An interim analysis of data set returns in February indicated that the majority of the most popular ECDIS in use at sea showed varying degrees of deviation from the ideal, though in most cases they did not represent serious safety issues,” Dr. Tucker said.

“Kelvin Hughes has always been in the forefront of ECDIS development and we welcome initiatives such as the IHO dataset which help drive the introduction of the technology and ensure that customers derive the best possible service from our products. This sort of exercise reinforces the importance of using ECDIS products from a reputable manufacturer with the technical support and global infrastructure to update software as required”.

“The non-conformities in Kelvin Hughes systems did not represent safety issues, so there was no need to take any immediate action in the form of warnings to our ECDIS customers. However, we have now produced and distributed the necessary software upgrades to ensure that these inconsistencies have been removed from all new and existing Kelvin Hughes ECDIS products”.

The IHO produced a simple dataset comprising two fictitious electronic navigational charts (ENCs) that allowed mariners to check some important aspects of the operation of their ECDIS. The check was intended to alert mariners to the possibility that their ECDIS software may require upgrading and if so, what extra measures they might need to take in the meantime, such as employing particular equipment operating procedures. Mariners were asked to report the results of their checks to help the IHO identify how the different brands of ECDIS display and handle chart information and also to inform the IMO, national Hydrographic Offices, ECDIS manufacturers and others, so that they could take any corrective action that may be necessary.

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