IHO 2016 in Review

IHO 2016 in Review

In 2016, the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) continued to pursue its wide and varied programme.  Here are some highlights for 2016.


The extension and use of the IHO S-100 framework, based on and compatible with the ISO 19100 series of geographic standards, continued apace.  Version 2.1 of the IHO geospatial information registry was implemented (registry.iho.int).  Several IHO working groups, as well as developers in other international and commercial organisations, moved forward with developing S-100-based product specifications and test datasets; including S-101 (ENCs), S-111 (Surface Currents), S-121 (Maritime Limits and Boundaries), S-122 (Marine Protected Areas), S-124 (Navigational Warnings), S-129 (Under Keel Clearance Management Information), S-411 (Ice Information) and S-412 (Weather Overlays), all of them being expected to contribute to the implementation of the E-navigation concept.

Capacity Building

The IHO capacity building programme continued to provide a wide range of development training and education, both to Member States and to other countries that need to improve their national hydrographic capabilities.  The training ranged from short courses on the provision of improved Maritime Safety Information services to degree level courses, such as the Category ’A’ hydrographic surveying programme at the University of Southern Mississippi, that 12 IHO sponsored student attended.

New GEBCO Vision and Crowdsourced Bathymetry Projects

In June, coinciding with World Hydrography Day, the IHO-IOC General Bathymetric Chart of the Ocean (GEBCO) project held a forum in Monaco to set out its vision for the next few decades.  As a result, it set itself the ambitious target to see complete bathymetric survey coverage of the world’s oceans at a 100 metre resolution by 2030.  Innovative new methods such as the use of autonomous roaming vehicles fitted with swath echo sounders, satellite derived bathymetry, and a crowdsourced bathymetry project using the infrastructure of the IHO Data Centre for Digital Bathymetry, are all options to help realise the GEBCO aim.

New Edition of the Standards of Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors

The IHO, in cooperation with the FIG and ICA, adopted new editions of the Standards of Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors that came into effect from 1 January 2017.  The standards govern the minimum level of training and education that programmes must offer in order to achieve recognition at the international category ’A’ or category ’B’ level.  The new editions introduced a significant change of concept by separating the category A and category B standard as opposed to the previous concept where category ’A’, in effect, built upon category ’B’.


Eight more international organisations were accredited as Observers during the year: the Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, the International Cable Protection Committee, INTERTANKO, the International Seabed Authority, the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa, the Open Geospatial Consortium, and the World Ocean Council.  Having observer organisations such as these provides the IHO with valuable stakeholder input to its activities as well as enabling collaboration in areas of mutual interest, especially capacity building and standards’ development and the over-riding requirement to improve global recognition of the value of hydrography.  They join the existing observer organisations and individual experts from industry and from academia that bring their expertise and experience to bear on the development of the IHO standards by participating in the various working groups and meetings during the year.  Equally, IHO representation at the meetings of partner organisations remained at a high level.

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