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After decades of using S-57 data for navigation, a new generation of digital products and services promises to empower hydrographic, maritime and GIS communities with data that pushes traditional hydrography boundaries.

The S-100 is a new standard for exchanging digital hydrographic data, offering hydrographic and maritime communities a range of new digital products and services.

Free Access: Quick Guide to S-100






1. What is the S-100 Standard?

The S-100 framework, a new and more versatile standard for exchanging digital hydrographic data, is being developed by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). The S-100 standard will replace existing standards with a new framework that enables the development of next-gen ENCs and other valuable digital products.

Contrary to previous standards, the S-100 will support a wider variety of hydrographic data sources, products and users. It will incorporate requirements for compiling and visualising ENC data and lay the foundation for a range of new applications that go beyond the domain of traditional hydrography.

The S-100 standard defines the data model and building blocks used by other S-100 product specifications for a specific usage domain. The S-100 standards are interoperable and the achievement of the IMO E-navigation concept will be dependent upon the S-100 data model.






2. Various S-100 Datasets and Products

As the S-100 standard develops, a new generation of ENC products and other digital products is increasingly becoming available for hydrographic and maritime communities and the modern navigator.

A range of new datasets and products will become available for the SOLAS and non-SOLAS market in the coming years, providing standardised and public information to help navigators better utilise vessel loading capacity, fuel usage, and navigational room for safer manoeuvring. The S-100 framework will also enable non-navigation and GIS communities to better plan, execute and analyse their maritime related operations.

Some of the most relevant S-100 products, which all have their dedicated S-1xx number, are as follows:

  • S-101: Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC)
  • S-102: Bathymetric Surface
  • S-104: Water Level Information for Surface Navigation
  • S-111: Surface Currents
  • S-122: Marine Protected Areas
  • S-123: Marine Radio Services
  • S-124: Navigational Warnings
  • S-128: Catalogue of Nautical Products
  • S-129: Under Keel Clearance Management

Of these, the S-101, S-102, S-104 and S-111 datasets are expected to constitute the most foundational products of a future S-100 ECDIS. Together, they will help navigators utilise navigable waters better than currently possible with an S-57-based ECDIS.

3. Next-Gen Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs): From S-57 to S-101

Today, most ENCs are based on the S-57 standard, which will become outdated and unable to accommodate the needs and requirements of the coming digital transformation of the maritime industry. S-57 suffers from being a frozen standard with strict maintenance regimes and an inability to support future needs, such as complex time-varying information and gridded bathymetry.

The S-101 is the new product specification for ENC data based on the fundamental S-100 framework. It is expected to constitute one of the most foundational products of a future S-100 based ECDIS providing the base chart layer. When the S-100 standard is finalised and ready to be used, the S-101 will ultimately replace the S-57 based ENCs as the official chart data for ECDIS.

Although S-101 retains most of the S-57 features, it improves on existing elements, adds new features and attributes, creates a more flexible framework and includes certain new functionalities currently unavailable in the S-57. 

PRIMAR will operate a multi-fuel distribution service during the transition period.

4. The S-100 Decade: Product Specifications Developments and Timeline

After the first version of the S-100 standard was released in 2010, we are finally entering into what has been aptly named by the IHO as "the S-100 decade". As we progress through the 2020s, S-100 will become the standard for Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) products.

Although the full-scale implementation of S-100 products depends on the timely development of various specifications and frameworks for type-approved ECDIS, it is reasonable to expect that we will see several S-100 products being produced in the coming years. Compliant systems are becoming available to utilize value-added functionality made available by the richer data content. For details, download this document outlining the IHOs roadmap for the S-100 Implementation Decade.






5. S-100 Benefits

The new S-100 standard makes maritime voyages safer, faster and more fuel-efficient by leveraging digital technologies to enhance navigation capabilities by developing next-generation ENC products and other hydrographic-related digital sources and products.

Some of the most important benefits of the new S-100 standard are the following:

Interoperability advantages:

S-100 will support a wider variety of hydrographic data sources and products and facilitate greater interoperability between these navigational products in the end-user system. The ECDIS operator will be able to access multiple products from his system. The interoperability possibilities will create a wide range of new user functionalities supporting what-if analyses.

Autonomous navigation:

Sensor technology, connectivity at sea, and advanced data analysis software create new opportunities for developing autonomous and remotely controlled ships and vessels. Developing new data standards for navigational-significant information is a critical step towards realising the benefits of autonomous navigation.

Service and usage efficiency:

The S-101 will significantly improve user experience. It enables more advanced geographical queries, ensures greater flexibility in updating mechanisms and improves the display of ENCs with more content and information than the existing S-57 standard.

Easier development and maintenance:

Compared to the current S-57 standard, the S-100 standard includes better mechanisms for rapid and automatic updates. This improves efficiency as one development can be used to support many different products.

New capabilities and functionalities:

One of the major benefits of the S-101 is the ability to introduce new capabilities and functionalities that are not available in the S-57, such as machine-readable catalogues, portrayal changes, updated information and cartographic features.

More formats and data carriers:

S-100 supports more formats, such as the ISO 8211, grid formats and GML formats, which adds flexibility to the various data production processes.

Data integration:

Easy integration with other types of data products for better situational awareness and decision support.


6. S-100 Use Cases for Navigation

The S-100 standard is recognised as the fundamental standard for a joint maritime data structure for e-navigation by standardising maritime data sources and supporting the development of hydrographic-related digital sources and products. As e-navigation becomes more widespread, the amount of maritime data that allow mariners to navigate safer and more efficiently increases rapidly. S-100 data help mariners integrate and visualise these datasets easily in their navigation systems.

For example, in a ground-breaking and highly complex operation for the oil and gas industry, the ECC contributed to the safe and efficient port approach of Sleipnir into the Haugesund harbour, located in the southern part of Norway. By accessing up-to-date, detailed and high-resolution S-102 bathymetric data, visualised in 3D format, Sleipnir – despite its colossal size – successfully navigated even the tightest of spaces into the Haugesund port and picked up and transported the riser module out to the Snorre platform.

Further details and results of the various operational tests performed in national research projects led by ECC, can be found on the S-100 and S-102 project sites.







7. S-100 Use Cases for Non-Navigation

Although the S-100 framework is recognized as the fundamental standard for a joint maritime data structure for e-navigation, S-100 is not limited to navigational purposes. The S-100 framework also consists of standards designed for different purposes, making the framework relevant for a wide variety of hydrographic, maritime and GIS communities.

S-100 data can generate significant value for the maritime industry as a whole.

Improve port operations:

Detailed hydrographic data may become particularly relevant for shipping, port and docking offices, helping to accommodate efficient, safe and flexible shipping traffic in and out of ports. S-102 data, in particular, may help increase the safety of anchoring operations, improve docking and fender usage, improve borrow pit calculations and reduce port traffic density. The S-102 data can support the monitoring of traffic in congested waters and areas with increased requirements for navigational safety.

Improve development projects in coastal areas:

S-100 data can generate considerable value for public administration offices by helping local and regional authorities better plan various development projects in coastal areas. S-101 data can be used to overview relevant infrastructure of subsea cables and pipelines. Furthermore, S-102 data may be used to chart marine mineral resources and other subsea floor conditions.

Improve placement of fish farms in the aquaculture industry:

High-resolution hydrographic data may also become important for the aquaculture industry, promising to reduce financial losses, help identify optimal positioning of new fish farms and reduce application process lead times for new on-sea infrastructure. The new S-100 standard, particularly the S-102 and S-111 datasets, may help the industry visualize underwater ocean floors and surface currents, respectively, used to calculate the optimal position of on-sea fish farms.

8. Where and How to Access S-100 Data

With S-100 gaining a foothold in the maritime industry and becoming ever more required by end-users, ENC service providers will follow suit. Today, the ENC service provider PRIMAR is quickly adapting to the S-100 decade, offering the infrastructure, tools and services necessary to leverage the opportunities of S-100 products and datasets. Commercial S-100 products are already available in the PRIMAR service, and the coverage and range of products are increasing.

The service is uniquely equipped to accommodate the coming S-100 decade through the following functionality:

PRIMAR’s flexible infrastructure offers new S-100 products as soon as they become available, providing end-users with the latest S-100 data quickly and efficiently.

PRIMAR reduces the time from when hydrographic offices produce S-100 data to it being made available for end-users. As the latest and best data is collected continuously, PRIMAR pushes the data out to pilots and other end-users via a subscription service in a matter of hours, not days and weeks.

PRIMAR’s user-friendly online self-service portal enables end-users to download all updates relevant to their needs quickly.

While transitioning to S-101, PRIMAR will ensure that current S-57-based ENCs are still available for everyone who needs them.

PRIMAR has prepared a test dataset for S-100 data available for anyone interested in investigating its opportunities.

Free Access:  S-1xx Test Data and Connection Setup

9. S-100 Training Courses

Transitioning to the new S-100 paradigm is complex. To help ease the transition, ECC together with PRIMAR, offers a collection of courses available for anyone, covering the S-100 and S-101 standards. The S-100 course bundle consists of six modules covering critical topics in the new S-100 paradigm and includes links to free software being used in the IHO standardisation development.

Module 1 – S-100

A general introduction and overview of the S-100 standard framework.

Module 2 – S-100 IHO Registry

A general introduction to the IHO Geospatial Information Registry.

Module 3 – S-101 General:

A detailed introduction to the future ENC framework, the S-101 ENC product specification. Presentations are accompanied by Q&A sessions and hands-on practical training exercises.

Module 4 – S-101 Data Quality:

A detailed introduction to the S-101 data quality aspects, focusing on bathymetric data quality.

Module 5 – S-101 Conversion and Challenges:

A course focusing on conversion from S-57 to S-101 and describing several specific conversion challenges.

Module 6 – S-100 Data Protection:

Understand IHO Data Protection and how it can be used to secure your products and services. The course focuses on S-100 but also includes examples from S-63.







Contact us about S-100 services

ECC are experts in technology development for the collection, quality assurance and distribution of official electronic charts and relevant additional nautical products. We also have the operational responsibility for PRIMAR. A world leader in the S-100 development, we are a driving force in international maritime activity and reference groups and we deliver training and lead research work on the new standards.

The S-100 era is slowly emerging on the horizon, and ECC is here to help you harvest its opportunities. Forward-thinking distributors, value-added resellers and end-users wishing to have a strong position in the future e-navigation business should take action today.

Feel free to contact us for more information on how we can help you get started with S-100. Fill out the form below, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.