Parry Oei, Chief Hydrographer of Singapore is something of an enigma. Softly spoken and unassuming, he promised “no great surprises” in his keynote address. And then proceeded to deliver some anyway.
It was blue sky thinking for the most part, but underlying this were serious concerns: that owners were confused about ECDIS hardware, starting to wonder whether the S-Mode initiative will ever see daylight and concerned that costs would inevitably rise at a time when rates were under such pressure.
His answer? Stimulate, Emulate, Simulate.
The first of these is the simplest – deliver complete official ENC coverage before mandatory carriage of ECDIS starts to kick in. Without that stimulation to use the product, it would always struggle, he said.
S-Mode needed a kick too. An initiative of the Nautical Institute, S-Mode is basically a re-set button designed to allow crew to change over on the ECDIS and see the same data displayed in the same way. Keep it simple is the idea.
But Oei had a question. “Is S-mode realistic? The technology might be adapted but will ECDIS hardware manufacturers embrace S-Mode above their brands? That is the future and it is a matter of collective will.”
As for emulation, Oei reckoned there could be a better way – navigation should look at the ground-breaking success of touch-screen technology as a way to unlock the power of ECDIS. There was still a need he said to put the power of ECDIS on screen and learn from the runaway success of the iPhone. “It’s a matter of apps,” he suggested.
As for simulation, he suggested the industry could ramp up that power with greater use of Differential GPS. The accuracy of its augmented signal could be coupled with HO data to help navigators to get a more accurate picture of the road ahead.
The IMO’s Marine Electronic Highway project would look at this and the demo phase currently underway was an important step to making such services a reality. “eNavigation could be here sooner than we think,” he concluded.