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Addressing the Need for

Bathymetric Data Management
Assessment, Storage and Management Needs for Bathymetric
Data Push Hydrographic Organizations to Find New Solutions

By Frederic Lavoie bathymetric data management system ation of products has been brought
Hydrographer can provide the underlying infrastruc- forward by the hydrographic commu-
Canadian Hydrographic Service
ture needed to make the delivery of nity over the last several years.
Mont-Joli, Canada
products more flexible and efficient. Bathy DataBASE addresses the
Karen Cove The Canadian Hydrographic Ser- need to store and manage surface
Product Coordinator vice (CHS) has a mandate to manage density bathymetry. In the ping-to-
CARIS hydrographic data and make them chart workflow, Bathy DataBASE sits
Fredericton, Canada accessible to its clients. Like other between data processing and valida-
hydrographic organizations, CHS is tion and hydrographic data manage-
facing increasing size and coverage ment and production.
H ydrographic organizations, port
and waterway authorities and
other large holders of bathymetric
of multibeam echo sounder (MBES)
systems, increased demand for and
During the development of a bathy-
metric data management system,
data have a need to assess large vol- distribution of products and a desire CARIS focused on the management
umes of these data coming in from to make use of new and historical and storage of bathymetric surfaces
various sources for possible threats to data in the creation of products. In an that represent the data in a gridded
safety of navigation. When the data effort to continue to meet this man- format at the resolution that best
are deemed valid, tools are needed to date, they are looking to CARIS data- reflects the spatial accuracy of the
prepare and format these data prior to base-driven technology. CARIS sensor used to acquire the data. The
storage. CARIS Bathy DataBASE is a Hydrographic Production Database system was also designed to support
bathymetric data management system (HPD) has been implemented for the the storage of data in non-gridded for-
that provides these kinds of tools management of hydrographic fea- mat. This storage format would be
along with an effective retrieval and tures, while Bathy DataBASE is being appropriate for the storage of sparse
distribution system. considered for the management of and/or randomly spaced collections
The storage and management of the source bathymetry from which of soundings—for example, single
data sets within a single repository features are derived. point, trackline data or digitized chart
facilitates the distribution of all the soundings. This allows for the integra-
bathymetric resources in an area to Ping-to-Chart Processing tion of over-sampled data from mod-
the most clients within and outside an The need for tools that streamline ern multibeam and lidar systems with
organization. Users can connect to a the flow of hydrographic information the under-sampled sources often
single source and determine what from acquisition through to the cre- found in historical archives.
resources they want to
access. Ideally, data are
stored at optimal resolu- Typical chart production workflow in Bathy DataBASE.
tion, not limited to set
levels of resolution. The
maintenance of the data
at their optimal resolu-
tion allows the data to be
exploited for the greatest num-
ber of applications, including appli-
cations such as engineering work,
coastal studies and navigation. A
(Above) A simplified representation of the
file-based workflow for the bathymetric
data management.

(Right) Bathy DataBASE and HPD work-


Bathy DataBASE Solution

Bathy DataBASE is a software suite
composed of a client application,
database server and database admin-
istration tools. The processing tools
available in the client application can
also be accessed as a standalone
desktop application.
Workflow. An intrinsic part of the
Bathy DataBASE system is the flexible
tool set provided to evaluate and edit
data sets from third-party sources,
preparing the data to meet the stan-
dards of an organization so they can
be used to enhance the organization’s face objects. Each survey tion of bathymetric products
data holdings and coverage. All valid and surface object has (i.e., contours) from sources in
data can potentially be used in the associated metadata based the database.
creation of products such as nautical on S-57 attribution—the stan- The objects resulting from the
charts. dard used for the exchange of digital de-confliction process are also stored
A typical chart production work- hydrographic data between national in the database. Both the resulting
flow would have data coming into the hydrographic agencies and for distrib- surface and the supersede decisions
system from various sources, with ution to stakeholders. The catalogs defined for the de-confliction are
some data preparation and validation defining the objects and their attribut- maintained, the surface is stored as a
taking place using the tools in BASE es are in extensible markup language surface object and the supersede
Manager. Validated data and metada- format and are customizable by the decisions are stored in a product pro-
ta would be loaded into the Bathy user. file object. The product profile object
DataBASE server. Measurements such The object metadata and system- carries information about the area
as soundings, contours and depth generated bounding polygon coordi- that has been superseded and the
areas would be generated from the nates are stored in the database. The parameters of the supersede decision.
source data. server software manages all interac- The Bathy DataBASE solution was
Database Architecture. The Bathy tions between the client application designed to be scalable in terms of
DataBASE system is based on a client- and the objects in the database. It accommodating the types and vol-
server design. The system supports the handles transactions requested by the ume of data currently being surveyed
storage and management of bathy- client application (the primary client with multibeam and lidar systems.
metric data in the BASE Surfaces, being BASE Manager) for data load- The scalability also addresses the
bathymetric attributed grid files and ing, data extraction and object edit- need for coverage on a global scale as
sounding set formats. ing. Server resources are also used in needed by some organizations that
Data are loaded into the Bathy the creation of generalized and de- have a mandate beyond sovereign
DataBASE server as survey and sur- conflicted surfaces and the genera- waters.
flow process: interaction with existing
“The logical extension of any data management databases (CHSDir, CARIS HPD),
seamless integration with the tech-
system is the distribution of those resources to nologies used in adjacent processes
clients.” (upstream [host-based intrusion-pre-
vention system] and downstream
[HPD]), datum adjustment (manage-
Distribution. The logical extension in navigation, science and engineer- ment), minimal loss of information (as
of any data management system is the ing. close as possible to the source), trace-
distribution of those resources to File-Based Workflow. The current ability of data from source to product,
clients. Due to the massive improve- practice in place for the management easy access to the data for internal
ments in communication systems of bathymetric data is the use of NTX and external users (Web access), per-
over the past several years, delivery files—CARIS exchange format files. formance and robustness of the appli-
via the Web has become an efficient All data are converted to a common cation and evaluation of the export
mechanism for disseminating geospa- datum and cartographic projection to formats by the clients.
tial information. make the future analysis easier. In the Investigation of Bathy DataBASE.
The CARIS solution for spatial data case of multibeam data, there is an The effective management of bathy-
distribution on the Web is Spatial extra step in the process. The original metric data is crucial to CHS. The
Fusion Enterprise. This technology file is decimated to a sounding densi- development of new tools and data
provides an interface to spatial data, ty that makes the files usable without management solutions allows CHS to
including hydrographic information losing too much detail. After the con- explore new opportunities to upgrade
and bathymetric data. Via the Web version to a common format, analysis or adjust workflow practices.
interface, the user has the ability to is done by comparison to files that Two principles exist for the man-
view, query and select data sources. cover the same area. A decision is agement of data: load data as a navi-
Spatial Fusion Enterprise imple- made to modify the status (sup- gation surface (BASE Surface) or a
ments the® Open Geospatial Consor- pressed or not suppressed) of data if a point stored file (sounding set). CHS
tium Inc. (Wayland, Massachusetts) change is required. tested both possibilities to evaluate
specifications for Web map service. Once this analysis is complete, the which of those two would best
This allows data to be easily shared new file is accessible to other users. address its needs.
among organizations and allows con- All the steps need to be recorded The area coverage selected for the
nections to external Web sites for manually in the CHS metadata data- tests was limited to Quebec Harbor,
viewing additional sources of data. base (CHSDir) for tracking. To access which contains around 50 source
the data, the user needs to utilize documents, from lead line to multi-
Pilot Project: CHS Quebec Region CHSDir to make a query on the beam data. Before loading both test
As part of a larger initiative to adopt attribute that they are looking for databases, all files were converted to
database-driven technology in the (type of survey, geographic query, a common datum and coordinate
processing and management of etc.). Even if only a small area of a system.
bathymetry and hydrographic data, large file is needed, the entire file Historical sparse data were con-
CHS’s Quebec, Canada, region is needs to be imported. The user needs verted to a sounding set and BASE
evaluating Bathy DataBASE. to manipulate the files to access the Surface format. Data with enough
The CHS Quebec region is in the area of interest. sounding density were converted
early stages of evaluating Bathy Data- Interaction with CHSDir makes the directly to BASE Surfaces. After the
BASE to improve the management of management complex and restrictive conversion, a survey was created for
the bathymetry results from various in terms of access and distribution to each of the files, and metadata were
types of surveys. Sources of bathyme- all clients. The file management is added manually using information
try include new and historical single- restricted in the interaction by the contained in CHSDir.
beam, MBES, lead line and other sys- database, which provides only one- The data were loaded into the data-
tems. CHS has a mandate to manage way communication. base attached to the previously
all bathymetry sources for Canada Bathy DataBASE Workflow. The defined survey. Once the data were
and to provide these data to its goal of this pilot project is to explore completely loaded into both databas-
clients. The goal of investigating new the possibilities offered in the new es, testing began on the superseding
ways of managing these data is to be CARIS technology to complete the rules at the extraction.
able to respond in the most efficient ping-to-chart workflow in a produc- While access to the data proved
way to all requests from its clients. tion environment. CHS would like to efficient and easy, initial tests did not
Using a bathymetry data manage- improve its bathymetric data manage- give the anticipated results. CHS had
ment system like Bathy DataBASE ment by developing interaction with expected that conflicts would be
allows bathymetry extracts to be tai- its internal databases (two-way com- solved at a data-set level instead of at
lored to meet a specific set of criteria. munication) and improving accessi- the node level. Further review of the
The criteria may include specifica- bility to the community. results now must be completed in
tions for epoch, resolution and attri- A bathymetric data management order to determine if the old methods
bution. The data are provided to a solution must have some basic quali- are still valid or necessary. Discussion
wide variety of clients for applications ties in order to fit into the CHS work- with other CHS regions or even other
“While access to the
data proved efficient
and easy, initial tests
did not give the antic-
ipated results.”

hydrographic organizations will also

be necessary to establish how to pro-
New methods usually come with
new technology implementation. A
meticulous analysis of needs will be
necessary before asking for any mod-
ifications, if needed, to the applica-

Future Developments
Some additional work remains to
be completed for the evaluation of
the criteria previously defined: datum
adjustment (transformation and man-
agement), interaction with databases
in CHS (CHSDir and CARIS HPD),
performance and robustness of the
application and Web access to the
All the criteria will need to be ex-
amined to make sure that the imple-
mentation of this technology at CHS
Quebec will improve the manage-
ment of bathymetric data and com-
plete the ping-to-chart workflow. /st/

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Frederic Lavoie graduated with a bache-

lor’s degree in geomatics from Laval Uni-
versity in Quebec, Canada, in 1998. He
began his career at CHS in 1999 as a
hydrographer, and he has been in the tech-
nical support and development division of
CHS Quebec Region for five years.

Karen Cove graduated from the University

of New Brunswick in 2005 with an M.S. in
engineering from the Department of Geo-
desy and Geomatics. She joined CARIS as
a product coordinator in the Canadian
office in 2005.

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