Electronic Chart Display and Information System

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ECDIS system

Electronic Chart Display and Information System ( ECDIS ; German Electronic Map Display and Information System ) is an electronic navigation information system . It combines:

This allows the current position of the ship and a lot of navigationally relevant information to be shown together in one display.


Further information can be called up and displayed on the ENC objects shown on the ECDIS system, for example parts of the sea ​​manuals and the beacon list . Static (draft) and dynamic (position, speed) ship information are also integrated. By linking the various pieces of information, the system can issue warning messages. The system knows, for example, the draft of the ship and can calculate and display where the water depth is no longer sufficient. Further warning messages can e.g. B. the approach to a traffic separation area or restricted areas of all kinds. The data are determined in real time.

Maps and format

The international standardized format for electronic maps by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is S-57 . This format describes object-oriented vector data ; the individual map files are organized in ASCII code and as so-called "cells".

Many ECDIS systems can process raster data in addition to vector data , as vector data are not yet available for all sea areas worldwide. Raster maps, however, are widely used commercially, e.g. B. the global nautical chart set of the British Admiralty Raster Chart Services (so-called ARCS charts). Because of the functional disadvantages of raster data, there are restrictions here, see below under “Replacement for paper nautical charts”.

For reasons of processing speed ( performance ), ECDIS systems use a proprietary binary format internally , the so-called System-ENC (SENC); however, it must always be possible to import data in the S-57 format (as a standardized exchange format).

Not the ECDIS standard match on individual manufacturers marketed proprietary card formats.

Map update

New map information, for example about changed beacons or sold bins, are taken over directly via a software update and no longer have to be drawn in by hand as was previously the case. This process can be carried out more quickly than before and also avoids errors during transmission. In addition to changes that can be made manually, official updates are published weekly and sent by post on CD-ROM . Downloading via data connection is also possible. Nevertheless, the updates must also be saved on an external data carrier as a backup.

Replacement for paper card

Since September 11, 2002, ships equipped with two approved, independent ECDIS devices ( redundancy ) and official ECDIS data no longer have to carry analog (paper) sea ​​charts with them. This also applies to recreational shipping.

Although ECDIS could in principle also display raster maps (RNC) , the use of vector maps (ENC) is mandatory here. The reason for this is the loss of information in the display; H. the information of the individual objects ( attributes ) cannot be read out separately, also the confusing moving closer together of the symbols when the reduction is too great or the too coarse and pixelated view when the enlargement is too great.


The IHO has free software for displaying the electronic maps . The ECDIS systems used in commercial shipping represent the IHO-S-57 data with software based on the IHO-S-52 standard.



  • Adam Weintrit: The Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) . An Operational Handbook. A Balkema Book. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton - London - New York - Leiden 2009, ISBN 9780415482462
  • Mathias Jonas: Higher ship safety through high-tech navigation . In: Schiff & Hafen Heft 8/2011, pp. 14-16, Seehafen-Verlag, Hamburg 2011, ISSN  0938-1643
  • Mathias Jonas: The international center for electronic nautical charts ensures the quality of ENCs . In: Schiff & Hafen , issue 12/2015, pp. 48–50, DVV Media Group, Hamburg 2015, ISSN  0938-1643
  • Horst Hecht, Bernhard Berking, Gert B. Büttgenbach, Mathias Jonas: The electronic nautical chart. Basics, possibilities and limits of a new navigation system . Wichmann-Verlag, 1st edition (July 14, 1999), ISBN 978-3879073030
  • Gert B. Büttgenbach: ECDIS equipment obligation - status quo and outlook . In: Schiff & Hafen Heft 8/2008, pp. 30/31, Seehafen-Verlag, Hamburg 2008, ISSN  0938-1643

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