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The latest information about NOAA ENC Direct to GIS

Electronic Navigational Chart Data Available for Non-Navigation Uses
"ENC Direct to GIS" in experimental release

The Office of Coast Survey recently announced that an experimental version of NOAA's Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) Direct to GIS web portal is now available.

What are we doing?

The enhanced version of ENC Direct to GIS is using FME Server and ESRI ArcGIS Server technology, an enhancement over the original ESRI ArcIMS Server technology. This new portal provides the user with improved symbology, easier accessibility, and better attribution to charting data that is kept updated on a weekly basis from the NOAA ENCs – all in a variety of GIS formats suitable for a range of commercial and academic uses.  The enhanced service gives the users a direct interface to the data allowing them the ability to more easily incorporate charting information into new coastal marine spatial planning applications.  

“We hope users will let us know what they think after exploring this new experimental interface,” said Kurt Nelson, branch chief in the Coast Survey Development Laboratory. The experimental phase will last until December, when developers will assess the product viability, Nelson explained. Users can offer comments through Coast Survey’s online inquiry system.

Why is ENC Direct to GIS important to you?

For the navigational community, ENCs are available for free download on a cell by cell basis, with each cell covering a specific area of our Nation's waters. These cells can be easily ingested into Electronic Chart Systems as they are in International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) S-57 format, the data standard for the exchange of digital hydrographic data. However, the GIS community may find the S-57 data difficult to use. Therefore, Coast Survey translates the data from S-57 to GIS-friendly formats and allows data viewing and download that is not limited by cell boundaries.

“In creating the GIS formats, we present a continuous depiction of the U.S. coastal and marine environment by aggregating nautical features from all NOAA ENCs,” said Mei-Ling Freeman, the project manager for ENC Direct to GIS.

The enhanced ENC Direct to GIS web portal provides comprehensive access to view ENC data with weekly updates applied automatically. It offers visualization of data similar to a published raster chart and the capability to download ENC data by ENC scale band within user-specified latitudes and longitudes.

What can you do with the enhanced interface?

The enhanced ENC Direct to GIS offers a viable solution and convenient access to the ENC data right at your fingertips.  It is a one-stop place to:

  • View seamless ENC data by ENC scale band
  • Obtain ENC data with weekly updates
  • Overlay ENC data with different base maps, including raster chart imagery
  • View ENC data with symbology style similar to a published nautical raster chart
  • Access metadata for each ENC map service
  • Download ENC data directly from the graphic interface
  • Access to various Representational State Transfer (REST) interface, web map services (WMS), geoprocessing services, and Keyhole Markup Language (KML) services

 The scale ratio for each ENC scale band is defined as follow:



Smaller than 1:1,500,000


1:600,001 - 1:1,500,000


1:150,001 - 1:600,000


1:50,001 - 1:150,000


1:5,000 - 1:50,000


Larger than 1:5,000

For a complete list of available services or detailed instructions on how to use the web application, please refer to the ‘How-to’ page from the ENC Direct to GIS homepage.

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