Representatives from 25 different countries will come together in Aalborg when the Worldwide Electronic Navigational Chart Database Working Group (WENDWG) holds its meeting between 21 and 23 February.
Behind this mouthful of a name and its cryptic acronym lies a hugely important working group which meets each year and works to ensure that official electronic navigational charts (ENCs) are available to seafarers across the world. In recent years, the working group has been focused on the development and implementation of a new standard for electronic navigational charts which will come into force in 2026.
Key Role for the Nørresundby Office
With around 65,000 voyages through Danish waters each year, Denmark is among the world’s largest seafaring nations. Nautical charts are therefore an essential part of the navigational infrastructure, both at home and internationally. Fortunately, we possess ample expertise within nautical charts here in Denmark, and our hydrographic office is actually among the oldest in the world.
The Danish Hydrographic Office has roots stretching back 250 years. It is located in Nørresundby and enjoys sweeping views over the Limfjord. Today, it is known as the Danish Geodata Agency – the Danish agency for nautical chart production and nautical surveying. This means that all nautical charts for Denmark and Greenland are produced at the office in Nørresundby. So when a coaster travels through the Great Belt or docks in Nuuk, it does so using charts produced in Nørresundby.
It is in part due to the Geodata Agency’s ample experience with the production of nautical charts, and not least in investigating the use of new technologies – such as satellite data, for example – that led the agency to offer to host this year’s meeting of the working group.
A Long Process
Producing nautical charts is a long process and many different professional groups are involved in the process. The work always begins with the annual nautical surveying directive, which establishes which areas are to be charted each year. Surveyors from the Armed Forces then sail off around Denmark and Greenland to collect depth data which is then delivered to the Geodata Agency so that it can be processed and subsequently converted into nautical charts that ships can use in their navigation.
The IHO Binds Everything Together
The IHO is an intergovernmental organisation which works to ensure that all the world’s seas, oceans and other navigable waters are surveyed and chartered. The IHO was founded in 1921 and works to coordinate the activities of 98 of the world’s hydrographic offices, including the Danish Geodata Agency.
“The IHO WENDWG is very pleased to be convening its thirteenth meeting in Aalborg. The working group has recently extended its responsibilities to include all IHO products and services that will be supported by the next generation of standards, IHO S-100. Two of the meeting’s most important objectives are to establish guidelines for the coordination of nautical charts and to assess the global progress of the S-100 standard which will make navigation in all waters even safer than it is today,” says John Nyberg, Chairman of the Working Group.