Development of a NSDI Hydrographic Data Content Standard for Coastal and Inland Waterways


Kevin Backe, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 703-428-6505, email:


FGDC Bathymetric Subcommittee


To develop a nationally focused Hydrographic Data Content Standard for Inland Waterways (hereafter called Hydrographic Standard) from the combination of information from existing standards (specified in the related standards paragraph).


This activity will first focus on developing a nationally focused standard for geospatial data pertaining to coastal and inland waterways that supports navigation applications. It will include an informative annex that contains additional information about presentation of this information for charting and electronic chart display applications. The project team will further refine the scope of this project as this project proceeds.

This Standard will consist of a feature/attribute/domain catalog and will use a logical data model that is consistent with the Spatial Data Transfer Standard/Federal Information Processing Standard (SDTS/FIPS 173 part 2).


There is currently no national data content standard for hydrographic data that support navigation and engineering applications; yet there has been considerable interest from Federal Agencies, the private industry, and the public for this type information. A comprehensive data content standard that supports waterway navigation applications will ensure effective use of geospatial data across different agencies, organizations, and other users. Inclusion of graphic representation information and symbology will increase consistency and accuracy of interpreted information displayed on electronic charting.


The Bathymetric Subcommittee will create a project team to develop a draft of this standard. This project team will extract feature/attribute information available from existing standards and other sources and package and present this information as a FGDC Standard. The project team will provide a draft standard for the Bathymetric Subcommittee review and approval. Upon its approval the Bathymetric Subcommittee will submit the Hydrographic Standard to the FGDC Standards for their review and approval prior to it going out for public review. The Bathymetric Subcommittee will also submit this information to the FGDC Feature Registry to discover any potential overlap with other FGDC Standards.


The Bathymetric Subcommittee will form a project team and begin work on the development of this standard as soon as this project is approved by the FGDC Standards Working Group. The development of a working draft of the Hydrographic Standard is expected to take 3-6 months. Once the Bathymetric Subcommittee is satisfied with the content of this Standard it will be forwarded to the Standards Working Group for their review and consideration of its readiness for public review. The Bathymetric Subcommittee expects to accomplish the development of this standard in one year to eighteen months.


The Bathymetric Subcommittee has adequate resources to accomplish most of the development of this Hydrographic Standard. If there is interest in participation on the development of this standard from the non-Federal sector, additional resources may be required.


The primary participants will be the members of the Bathymetric Subcommittee that includes representatives from federal agencies. Other members of the public and private sector will be sought for the development of this Standard.


There are several significant standards that relate to the standard being proposed for development. As mentioned above the project team is planning on producing this Hydrographic Standard by extracting relevant information from these existing standards and other sources. These standards and other sources are:

International Hydrographic Organization's S57 Appendix A "Object Catalog for Digital Hydrographic Data,"

USACE Regional Engineering and Environmental GIS project's data dictionary for inland waterways information,

Tri-Service Spatial Data Standard,

potentially the National Mapping and Imagery Agency (NIMA) Feature Attribute Coding Catalog, potentially the NIMA Hydrographic Data Model, and potentially the USGS DLG-F feature dictionary.


The Bathymetric Subcommittee proposes pursuing the development of this Hydrographic Standard as an FGDC standard. The Bathymetric Subcommittee may consider pursuing (at a later date) the promoting of parts of this standard (e.g., inland waterways information) that are not currently part of the S57 standard to International Hydrographic Organization for inclusion in their standard.