E = Electronic
C = Chart
D = Display and
I = Information
S = System
The definition of an ECDIS and its use is specified in IMO ECDIS Performance Standards (IMO Resolution A.817 (19) and Resolution MSC.232 (82)):
‘Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) means a navigation information system which, with adequate back-up arrangements, can be accepted as complying with the up-to-date chart required by regulation V/19 & V/27 of the 1974 SOLAS Convention, by displaying selected information from a system electronic navigational chart (SENC) with positional information from navigation sensors to assist the mariner in route planning and route monitoring, and by displaying additional navigation-related information if required.’
ECDIS is thus more than an “electronic nautical chart”. Nautical charts are in fact presented electronically, but in principle all kinds of chart – aviation charts, street maps, railway maps, etc. – could be presented on a computer display using the same methodology. However, we shall restrict ourselves to comments on the electronic nautical charts. ECDIS was initially developed for shipping, and thus the use of both terms as synonyms is entirely justified.