Sailing your way through e-Navigation



International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), St Germain-en-Laye, France


What is e-Navigation?

e-Navigation is an International Maritime Organization (IMO) led concept based on the harmonisation of marine navigation systems and supporting shore services driven by user needs. e-Navigation is currently defined as:

“e-Navigation is the harmonised collection, integration, exchange, presentation and analysis of maritime information onboard and ashore by electronic means to enhance berth to berth navigation and related services, for safety and security at sea and protection of the marine environment.”

What will e-Navigation deliver?

It is envisioned there will be at least three broad significant outcomes from e-Navigation that are currently being used as the basis of establishing user needs. These are represented by ship based systems, shore based systems and a communications infrastructure as outlined here:

• Onboard navigation systems will be developed that benefit from the integration of own ship sensors, supporting information, a standard user interface, and a comprehensive system for managing guard zones and alerts. Core elements of such a system will include high integrity electronic positioning, ElectronicNavigational Charts (ENC) and an analysis capability to reduce human error, actively engaging the mariner in the process of navigation while preventing distraction and overburdening.

• The management of vessel traffic and related services from ashore will be enhanced through better provision, coordination, and exchange of comprehensive data in formats that will be more easily understood and utilised by shore-based operators in support of vessel safety and efficiency.

• An infrastructure designed to enable authorised seamless information transfer onboard ship, between ships, between ship and shore and between shore  authorities and other parties with many attendant benefits, including a reduction of single person error. What does the ‘e’ in e-Navigation stand for?

It is generally accepted that the IMO concept of ‘e-Navigation’ can be thought of as a brand, such as ‘iPod’, without the need for ‘e’ to be specifically defined.

The concept of e-Navigation was proposed by IMO Member States in 2006 as a process for the harmonisation, collection, integration, exchange and presentation of maritime information.

As such, the ‘e’ could have stood for ‘enhanced’ or ‘electronic’, but this would unnecessarily limit what can be done within e- Navigation. It must be noted that generic electronic marine navigation already exists in many forms and should not be confused with this specific IMO initiative.

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