NOAA seeks industry feedback as it begins testing the Precision Navigation Data Dissemination prototype

By Julia Powell, Precision Navigation Program Manager, Chief of the Navigation Services Division

NOAA’s Precision Navigation program is building a prototype data gateway for users to discover, visualize, and disseminate NOAA marine navigation products and services. The backbone of this dissemination system is to provide for machine-to-machine dissemination that allows the mariners’ existing navigation software to automatically discover if NOAA has made new data available and ingest it directly into the system. NOAA’s integrated marine navigation services through this site will help ship operators optimize their routes, save fuel, reduce lightering and reduce port wait times based on environmental conditions.

NOAA is planning on an initial release of its preliminary service for surface currents and high resolution bathymetry by July 2020. Our prototype precision navigation dissemination system will allow systems to ingest, process, and disseminate selected NOAA marine navigation data. This system is built on the foundation of the International Hydrographic Organizations (IHO) S-100 Universal Hydrographic Data Model. S-100 provides a framework of components that enables the building of standardized product specifications for the modelling of hydrographic data, thus providing true interoperability between different data standards and systems.

In addition to the S-100 framework, the IHO has developed a series of product specifications that conform to S-100. As part of the precision navigation dissemination system, NOAA is building out products and services that conform to these standards. The initial data that will be available include forecast guidance of surface water currents extracted from oceanographic forecast modeling systems (OFS) in the IHO’ s S-111 format and high resolution bathymetry in the IHO’s S-102 format. In addition to the surface currents and high resolution bathymetry, S-101 ENCs and S-104 water levels are in early planning phases.

The initial product lines included in the data dissemination system will be ENCs, high resolution bathymetry, water levels, surface currents, and eventually marine weather hazards.

Industry engagement is the key to success

A critical component to ensure the success of the Precision Marine Navigation program will be engagement with stakeholders. Initially, NOAA will focus on working with software companies that are able to ingest and display NOAA navigation data to leverage these new data formats. After working through issues of data discovery and integration, NOAA will invite end users such as pilots, port authorities, and recreational boaters to provide feedback as well.

Ramping up operational capabilities

NOAA will also continue to build out the dissemination infrastructure and add additional products as they mature. The rollout of these products will follow a four phased approach until they reach full operations. 

Phase 1: Development 

Each product line will have its own development phase as standards mature and resources become available. During the development phase, our goal is to engage industry early to ensure project buy-in.

Phase 2: Test

The partners identified during the development phase will be part of our testing phase and receive early access to the prototype system. Testing for the precision navigation data dissemination system for S-111 Surface Currents and S-102 High Resolution Bathymetry will begin in mid 2020 and run through the end of the year. In the fall of 2010, NOAA plans to hold a virtual stakeholders forum to fine tune feedback on the system. This workshop will provide an opportunity to delve deeper into some of the early feedback as well as set the stage for testing the next product lines (S-104 Water Levels), which will hopefully be released for testing in early 2021. 

The testing phase is an iterative process as NOAA ingests the feedback and provides updated materials back to stakeholders for new testing. This process may take longer for the initial data sets as the process is further refined.

Phase 3: Preliminary Service

During this phase the data will be publicly available, validated, and authenticated using a digital signature. Throughout the preliminary service phase the data will be scaled up to achieve full coverage. 

Fully Operational Coverage

The product line is fully built out in the cloud and supported 24 x 7. 

If you are interested in participating as an early adopter for our Precision Marine Navigation Services please email your interest and information to: and

In addition, because we understand that getting the data is one piece of the equation, we have released test data for a subset of our surface currents and high resolution bathymetry products so that you may start your own testing and development for implementation prior to the initial launch.

These can be found here:

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