Sea Technology

JAN 2018

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40 ST | January 2018 www.sea-technology.com While improved information infrastructure will not al- leviate the need for physical infrastructure projects such as dredging, advancements in information services are a highly cost-effective way to reduce port congestion and expand the capacity of our waterways. By having a better understanding of oceanic and atmospheric conditions, we can reduce accidents, enhance trade and increase economic efficiency. Our MTS information infrastructure tools must be ex- panded and modernized through renewed investment. High-frequency radar, detailed nautical charts and the National Spatial Reference System are just three exam- ples. High-frequency radar measures the speed and di- rection of ocean surface currents in real time, generating up-to-the-minute surface current mapping. These maps support port and harbor navigation, search and rescue, and oil spill response. However, there are currently crit- ical gaps in coverage, including portions of our south- eastern waters. We must expand high-frequency radar coverage to accommodate increasing maritime traffic and increasing environmental variability. Nautical charts, which alert mariners of obstructions and reduce accidents, are another essential navigation tool. Unsurprisingly, these charts are only as good as the accuracy of the information that underpins them. To meet the current and anticipated needs of mariners, NOAA re- quires renewed investment to better align the scale and coverage of nautical charts and to improve underlying data by conducting more frequent seafloor surveys. NOAA's National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) provides a consistent coordinate system that defines latitude, longitude, height, scale, gravity and orienta- tion throughout the U.S. Additionally, the NSRS defines the official national shoreline and provides navigation- al models and tools for all modes of transportation. The NSRS must be modernized to achieve centimeter-level accuracy and increase overall system efficiency. These changes will increase the safety of the MTS and support new economic opportunities. Marine transportation investment needs have been, and will continue to be, a partnership between private operators/users and the public entities that own, con- trol or regulate the system. Some of the most promising information infrastructure advancements have arisen from such partnerships. NOAA's Physical Oceanograph- ic Real-Time System (PORTS), a cost-shared program with strong industry support, is one such advancement that improves efficiency and decreases the risk of ship groundings and collisions. PORTS provides industry with a decision support tool that integrates real-time environ- mental observations, forecasts and other geospatial in- formation to help mariners make critical decisions while transiting busy seaports. Additional resources will allow NOAA to meet demand for new PORTS sites, upgrade current quality assurance and technical services, and sustain the underlying network of underwater observing systems. To enhance maritime safety and efficiency, we need precision navigation technologies and services that en- able ever-larger ships to more efficiently and safely nav- Review&Forecast Safeguarding our National Economic Security: Investing in the Information Infrastructure Required for a Thriving Marine Transportation System By Lillian Borrone Former Chair, Eno Center of Transportation Member, Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council A merica's marine trans- portation system (MTS), and the information infra- structure on which it de- pends, are being challenged on multiple fronts. We need a concerted and sustained campaign that confronts these challenges to preserve a system that is central to the country's economic security. America's wealth and prosperity have always been in- extricably linked to the free flow of maritime commerce through U.S. ports. Over the last 50 years, maritime com- merce has tripled. Today, activity at American seaports sustains more than 23 million jobs, generates more than $320 billion annually in tax revenues, and accounts for 26 percent of the U.S. economy. Roughly 95 percent of U.S. overseas trade flows through our seaports, support- ing coastal communities and industries nationwide. Sim- ply put, the MTS is the lifeblood of our economy. Our MTS and economic security face numerous threats, including rising seas, more frequent coastal storms and changing global trade patterns. Congress and the Trump Administration cannot address these challeng- es in isolation. They must also respond to the most ex- tensive hurricane damage in U.S. history and confront the decades of neglect plaguing America's infrastructure. To ensure the survival and growth of the marine trans- portation sector, the MTS must be modernized, including the information infrastructure on which it depends. This includes expanding upon the Committee on the Marine Transportation System's previous work and incorporating MTS information infrastructure into congressional and executive branch deliberations on hurricane disaster re- lief and national infrastructure initiatives. Conversations about the MTS have historically fo- cused on hard infrastructure—the channels, harbors and ports that form the essential foundation of the system. These elements not only support maritime commerce, they supplement our increasingly burdened road and rail systems. The success of our MTS depends on the integrity of all infrastructure, including the offshore, onshore and aerial technology that powers our understanding of an ever-changing marine environment. Without reliable sci- ence, up-to-date information and cutting-edge tools, our MTS is undermined.

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