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UKHO pursuing digital future

  • Friday, 02 November 2007 | News

UK Hydrographic Office Chief Executive Mike Robinson has outlined a digital future for the organisation by reaffirming the UKHO's intention to launch a new global vector chart service next year.

Speaking at the Institute of Marine Engineering Science & Technology (IMarEST) President's Day Forum in London, Mr Robinson said the world of marine navigation was changing from paper based to digital products.

He also highlighted that the UKHO, with its Admiralty brand of navigational products and services, is determined to remain a commercial success in this digital future.

He said: "We are about to start trials of a new global vector service which we will make available during the first half of next year. This will form the basis for a number of future products and services over the next few years."

Mr Robinson also explained that the availability and quality of "official? vector charts had not improved as quickly as expected by the maritime community and widespread adoption has yet to occur, despite potential safety advantages.

He said: "The principles established by IHO member states in vector charting are somewhat different than in paper and effectively prevent any one nation from charting the world."

"Although the UKHO considers that where they have "the capability" sovereign nations are best placed to chart their own waters, we are offering our services to take that base navigational data and add value to with our world class cartographers and provide products and services to the mariner that the mariner deserves."

Mr Robinson added that the challenge of moving to a digital world would test the capabilities of the UKHO and its partners, and that co-operation would be necessary going forward.

?We are going to need assistance from industry in a number of different ways; from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), system integrators and software companies," he said. The world is going to change but there is time if we plan and invest in our people."

The UKHO is currently an MoD Trading Fund but it is undergoing a status review which may see all or part of the organisation become a Government-Owned Company (GovCo); such a change in status could possibly increase its ability to compete commercially", and would certainly mark a significant change in the way the company operates.

Mr Robinson was keen to stress that despite the organisation's growing commercialisation that the UKHO's primary objective would remain supporting the Royal Navy.

"We supply 70 per cent of all charts and publications sold to merchant shipping, but the Royal Navy remains our largest and most important customer," he said. Our commercial success strengthens our service to the Royal Navy."

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