ECDIS: Discovery or Disconnect?

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November 25, 2010

Ship Watch Officer Navigating With ECDIS

Regulators and suppliers are going full steam for ECDIS; But are shipowners and officers onboard?

Today and tomorrow hundreds of the ECDIS faithful are gathering in London to take status and plan for the future. Since 2007, when DNV delivered a definitive study establishing the safety benefits of ECDIS, the course was staked out and the adoption of ECDIS was as certain as, well, celestial navigation.

En route, some have noted an alarming disconnect between this ECDIS-powered bright and safe future, and the facts at hand in shipping companies and on ships’ bridges. There is no doubt that the world’s shipping fleet will install ECDIS on their ships; but will they successfully install ECDIS in officers’ and managers’ mind-sets?

Now IMO is taking the next natural step. It’s called e-Navigation, and it aims to push a single window concept, whereby more and more information and situational awareness comes from one screen – the ECDIS. Fortunately, the wardens of e-Navigation are building its foundations on the needs of the end-user.

This won’t be enough, however. As those pushing ECDIS and e-Navigation have made clear time and again, the successful implementation of these technologies depends on information, discussion, consensus and steady refinement.

The only way to bring about fruitful discussion is via openness. For that reason, two companies in the field of ECDIS – Jeppesen and ECDIS Ltd – are working to facilitate greater discussion. They’ve started a discussion right here at the discussion forum to foment greater sharing and debate.

The hope is that greater discussion will lead to greater discovery, and improve the final result of the adoption of ECDIS and e-Navigation’s. Other places to discuss the topics include the e-Navigation group in LinkedIn, the Nautical Institute ECDIS forum, the site or the twitter feeds @enavigation and @ECDISltd.

The impression is that authorities at all levels are open to input from the buyers and users of bridge technologies. This input just needs to be made public, organized and directed. Are you onboard to talk about one of the biggest topics in tomorrow’s ship operations?

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