Report & Proceedings

Digital Hydrography on the Maritime Web

A two-day THS UK-IFHS-IHO Conference in Southampton

by Rob van Ree, Vice-Chairman of IFHS

Digital Hydrography on the Maritime WebThe annual habit of the International Federation of Hydrographic Societies (IFHS) to organise a multi-day event, this year took a somewhat less extravagant shape than the usual Hydro conferences. Last year we had Hydro12 in Rotterdam, next year we will have Hydro14 in Aberdeen. This year's gathering took place in Southampton, on 29th and 30th October.

The Hydrographic Society UK stepped in to fill the gap between years with this smaller version, in association with the IFHS and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). Smaller, not necessarily less stimulating. The number of delegates was around 65, among whom many with leading positions in government and industry. Although the conference objective was not to take any decisions on future developments, the conference format allowed a most interesting exchange of views.

The event in the Southampton Solent University Conference Centre was sponsored by ESRI as Principal Sponsor, and also by Caris, ITIC and QPS. The Exhibition in the refreshment room also provided space for Autonomous Surface Vehicles, OceanWise and TeamSurv to show their wares alongside those of the four sponsors. At the end of Day One a Drinks Reception was arranged, sponsored by ITIC and QPS.

The conference was divided in four Sessions, each consisting of a keynote speech, two or three lectures and a one hour Stakeholder Forum discussion, inviting views from anyone present. The main conference theme was divided into four sub-themes: The User's Perspective, Products - Quality & Presentation, Survey Innovation and Training for All.

The User's Perspective

Session 1 - The User's PerspectiveThe keynote speech was a 'View from the bridge' by Capt Harry Gale, Technical Manager of the Nautical Institute. Next Ole Berg addressed e-Navigation, the transition from the navigating navigator to the monitoring navigator. The lecture from Capt David Wheal was entitled 'the question facing us is not how much work the human can do safely, but how little'. One of the main items of the subsequent discussion was how to make good use of the zones of confidence categorisation (CATZOC). Or should we perhaps not give the CATZOC principle much emphasis but use the navigation surface instead?

Products - Quality & Presentation

A playful but interesting distinction made by Rear Adm Nick Lambert in his keynote speech 'The user's faith in technology' was between digital immigrants, born before 1990, and the youngsters of today as digital natives. The lectures in the session provided technical details, for example how to achieve really quick ENC updates with frequent survey data in highly dynamic estuaries like the Humber. During the panel discussion various examples were given, whereby participants highlighted still-existing misunderstandings and false perceptions of existing chart products and systems. Here, concerns where shared that future users might lack appropriate basic training and operational knowledge and might therefore put themselves and their ships at risk when using highly complex and demanding ECDIS systems.

Survey Innovation

Session 3 - Survey InnovationThe limitations and future developments of satellite multispectral imagery were discussed along with the possibility to develop bathymetric applications based on other satellite techniques, such as SAR. A framework for data quality assessment and usefulness of crowdsourcing was discussed and further clarifications were sought. The panel was also questioned on their views about the likelihood of alternatives other than acoustic or laser techniques emerging in the future. The need to 'educate', rather than 'train', future surveyors, so that they can adapt and foster innovation, was stressed.

Training for All

Session 4 - Training for AllThe keynote speaker Nicholas Seube was head of the leading French civil hydrography education at ENSTA in Brest and the newly elected chair of the International Board on the Standards of Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors and Nautical Cartographers. The standards provide a useful framework for the education of surveyors operating internationally. The other speakers in the session were Capt Zakirul Bhuiyan with a critical view on ECDIS display management and Dr Richard Thain inviting a scheme of individual rather than institutional recognition. All participants in the ensuing panel discussion agreed that proper and extensive basic training of elementary navigation skills will remain as a top prerequisite, no matter how 'clever' modern navigation systems might become. Furthermore the need for participation in an extensive generic ECDIS course was deemed necessary.

The organisers of the mini-Hydro event were praised for the effective and efficient arrangements, as demonstrated, for example, by the very well laid-out Delegate Handbook & Proceedings, Special Publication 60.

Copies of the Proceedings are available to purchase priced at £35 (including postage within the UK; price on application for overseas delivery). For further information or to place an order please contact helen@hydrographicsociety.org

The keynote and paper presentations from the conference will be made available at www.hydroconferences.org in March 2014.

Last update: 19 November 2015

Conference Proceedings

Printed Proceedings are available to purchase for £35 (inc. postage within the UK; price on application for overseas delivery).


organised and hosted by
The Hydrographic Society UK  

in association with

    IFHS and IHO    

Principal Event Sponsor