Extending ECDIS content: A process for produing Ice Information MIOS based on S-57 Ice objects

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Some of the world’s major shipping lanes run through ice-infested waters. To safely navigate these areas, mariners rely on daily ice charts produced by national governmental agencies. Most ice charts are designed to be displayed primarily on paper. Many vessels now possess Electronic Chart and Display Information Systems (ECDIS) on board that allows mariners to view Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC). Current ENC specifications allow for only one very limited description of ice conditions. New international standards specifying how detailed ice information is to be displayed in ECDIS could come into effect in 2007. The Canadian Ice Service (CIS) produces daily paper charts to assist mariners navigate Canadian ice-infested waters. The CIS produced the charts using computer imaging and mapping software. While the electronic versions of the charts do contain detailed ice information, the format of the data must be altered in order to be able to be used with existing ENCs. Using Arc Macro Language (AML) scripting, a prototype tool was created that converts daily ice charts from an ArcInfo format file into supplemental layers (Marine Information Objects) that could be used with official ENC data. An investigation was then performed to determine which is better: to use the developed tool to create electronic ice charts or to alter the CIS chart production process so that an Ice Information MIO, not a paper chart, is the primary product. It was found that the developed tool automatically creates an electronic ice chart in at most five minutes, well below the one-hour processing time originally sought by the CIS. Since using the tool requires no changes to the current chart production system, using the tool to create Ice Information MIOs is far more economical than altering the existing ice chart production process.