NOAA 2000-403
Contact: Bill Zahner


A Radically new update service for raster nautical charts is now available via Internet E-mail, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today. This first-ever electronically-delivered weekly update service is a joint effort between NOAA's National Ocean Service and Maptech Inc, the official source for NOAA electronic charts.

Maptech's latest edition raster charts, or charts for use on a computer, are a commercial product produced under a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with NOAA, now have an optional package which will provide weekly updates to be applied via a small "patch file" delivered by e-mail. Consumers who purchase the update can have the patches automatically applied to screen versions of the charts, or they may be used to create new chart editions on their computer's hard drive.

"With raster charts now outselling paper charts by almost two to one, and the proliferation of the Internet, it makes perfect sense to have an Internet-based weekly update service for the maritime industry. NOAA is very excited about this new service offered by Maptech. The weekly update is practical, timely, convenient, cost effective, and accurate, and will have tremendous benefits for the user," said Capt. Dave MacFarland, director of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey.

Modernizing its production system has enabled NOAA to support major improvements such as this E-mail update service. In the past, new information was saved until about 50 critical changes had accrued per chart before the files were updated and a new edition or the chart issued. Now Maptech can incorporate changes each week.

Weekly updates include notices from the U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA's Critical Correction Database, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, and the Canadian Hydrographic Service. The resulting navigation charts will be the most up-to-date available, and will save mariners time and money previously spent doing their own hand corrections to their charts, as well as improving their ability to navigate safely.

Maptech provides raster charts and the subscription-based E-mail update service as part of its CRADA partnership responsibilities. The package includes a CD-ROM with about 55 raster charts, the Coast Pilot, Light List, Tide Tables, Tidal Current Tables where they exist, and update services for one year. Maptech Raster charts and updates are produced under the authority of NOAA, the national hydrographic office for the United States, and meet the international standards for Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems.