IEC publishes update to ECDIS route plan exchange standard
8th March 2021
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has updated the ECDIS route plan exchange format (RTZ) through publication of a new Publicly Available Specification (PAS). The PAS was originally developed by CIRM, the international association of marine electronics companies, in order to address implementation issues that have been uncovered in the original RTZ specification.
Route plan exchange is based on standardising route plans so that they may be shared between different systems on the ship and between the ship and shore. The original RTZ format is specified in ECDIS standard IEC 61174:2015. A PAS is a technical specification published in response to an urgent market need, representing a consensus in an organisation or working group. The objective of a PAS is to speed up standardisation in areas of rapidly evolving technology.
CIRM developed the RTZ PAS in order to address various shortcomings encountered in the original RTZ specification, including typographical errors and ambiguity in the requirements. The work on the PAS was initiated in 2018 and was carried out by the CIRM ECDIS Working Group, comprising representatives from ECDIS manufacturers, kernel makers, service providers and data producers.
The CIRM PAS updates the original RTZ XML schema version 1.0 to revised version 1.2, which incorporates schema version 1.1 that was developed, implemented and tested by participants in the European Union-funded Sea Traffic Management (STM) Validation project. CIRM has also produced a comprehensive set of test route files based on RTZ v1.2, in order to assist implementers when conducting testing. The revised schema version and test dataset are available from the CIRM website: http://cirm.org/rtz/.
Because the PAS is not part of an international standard, its publication will not result in any mandatory new requirements for equipment manufacturers or shipping companies.
Regarding the impact on the user, by using equipment on which the PAS has been implemented, mariners will be able to have confidence that routes created on ECDIS from different manufacturers can be exchanged successfully and without loss of data. The current level of interoperability between existing ECDIS in the field and updated ECDIS supporting the RTZ version 1.2 format will be preserved.
Commenting on publication of the RTZ PAS, CIRM’s Chief Technical Officer, Richard Doherty, said “Since its introduction in 2015, route plan exchange has enabled the interchange of route plans between ship and shore-based systems in support of navigational safety and efficiency. However, a number of issues have been identified in the original specification, including typographical errors, ambiguities, and a lack of comprehensive test clauses, and so in developing the PAS, CIRM is delighted to have been able to support ECDIS manufacturers that have identified a business need to implement an improved version of the route plan exchange format in their equipment.”
ECDIS manufacturer Sperry Marine was represented in the CIRM Working Group that developed the RTZ PAS. Technical Manager Simon Cooke said, “Sperry Marine was pleased to contribute to the development of the revised RTZ 1.2 format. This was a good example of the industry working collaboratively together and adoption of the improved format will improve the reliability of route exchange between ECDIS and other equipment in the coming years.”
The Publicly Available Specification IEC PAS 61174-1:2021 is available from the IEC webstore: https://webstore.iec.ch/publication/67774