Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Safety on the Open Sea

Speech about OpenSeaMap at ChaosComputerClub (Bernhard Fisher)

Safe navigation with the aid of an open sea chart

In maritime shipping accurate positioning is vital to preserve damage to life, ship, and goods. Today, we might tend to think that this problem is sufficiently solved yet because of the existence of electronic positioning systems like, most notably, the Global Positioning System (GPS) or the Russian counterpart GLONASS.
This is wrong.
Positions in terms of latitude and longitude just make sense together with an accurate sea chart (and of course, together with a navigator that is able to translate charting data into reality).

Sea charts are available of national geospatial agencies and business companies as hard-copy or as digital maps and dependent on costs one might spend they are more or less accurate.

In today's open world the idea of making an open sea chart is obvious
Several projects now started to apply the rules used for the OpenStreetMap, "...a free editable map of the whole world.", to create a free editable sea chart of the whole world and it turns out to be much more difficult because of potential serious consequences in case of charting errors.

A sea chart contains a lot of vital information to a navigator.
It has to be accurate, up to date, and confidential.
Since we (the open sea chart community) cannot just chart every navigational important item on the world we are dependent on information that was already charted before or on third-party information.
The latter could be for example measurements or GPS tracks of people that are somehow involved into maritime shipping but not necessarily into details of marine mapping.
Thus, data accuracy may be questionable but still valuable.
The fact that unauthenticated people are editing data in an open database is a big challenge for an open community since safety and security of life heavily depends on it.

This talk covers the basic principles of sea charts and marine mapping.
It emphasizes the problems of an open sea chart in general and its distinction to an open street map since requirements to ensure safety at sea are very different.
Data preparation and import of other sources are discussed in detail, mainly focused on lights and depths.
The lecture will connect real world shortcomings to a pedantic definite IT world for an IT-oriented audience and approaches IT security from a different angle.

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