Panbo

CE 2009 hands-on #1; wows, confusions, and a gripe!

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Apr 6, 2009
CE2009_chart_updating_screen.JPG

I spent some of this weekend installing and trying out Coastal Explorer 2009, and was thoroughly impressed.  CE, also sold as Maptech Chart Navigator Pro, has always been an excellent charting program, in my opinion, and the 2009 edition is a worthy successor.  The screen shot above, for instance, shows the slick new automated NOAA raster and vector chart updating routine (and the fact I was doing the updating while riding a train, via a Sprint EVDO WiFi server, suggests how possible online onboard is getting).  CE 2009 also easily incorporated lots of Maptech data -- photo maps, topos, harbor photos, and marina databases -- that was already on my PCs.  But CE's included Guide Book data, access to TerraServer photo maps and its new abilities to display Panoramio photos and CE user community POI info (photos included) make Maptech data somewhat less important.  Which may be a good thing, in a way, as the relationship between CE's creator, Rosepoint Navigation, and the company that took over Maptech's digital chart business, Maptech Navigation, has gotten a little confusing...

For one thing, Rosepoint Navigation is letting anyone who purchased the original CE update to CE 2009 for free, which is very kind, but is charging $99 to update CNP to CE 2009. Meanwhile, there's a new edition of CNP, also with an update costing $99, but apparently "new" means the data, not the charting program.  So I don't yet know what the deal is for someone who would like the latest Maptech data and the latest CE software (nor do I know the fate of the contour feature that was the one real difference between CE and CNP versions 1).  I'm trying to find out, because I know there are others like me who want it all!
   I'll definitely be writing more about CE 2009 once I actually get to cruise with it (soon, I'm hoping), but I'm already enamored with the new underway interface, the expanded data/instrument panels, and other useful improvements I keep stumbling on.  But there's one added feature I strongly object to, which is the ability to filter out all Class B AIS targets. The program undoubtedly does a great job of plotting AIS, as well illustrated by Tim Flanagan, and the filter is off by default -- as you can see below (along with CE 2009's superb ENC presentation) -- but, in my opinion, it shouldn't even exist.  As we've discussed before (like here and in the comments here and here), the notions that Class B targets are overburdening plotting screens and that ships can and will filter out these targets seems to be mythical.  I'm quite willing to post rebuttals, but I have never seen a screen showing Class B overload and, to the best of my knowledge, CE 2009 is the only charting program or plotting device, recreational or commercial, that lets users filter out all Class B AIS targets.  I think it's an unnecessary and dangerous option, and I'm frankly amazed that Rosepoint would risk the liability involved. 

PS. I'm told that Chart Navigator Pro will not be updated to include the new features of CE 2009, which is a bit of a bummer. But CNP will get an update of its own later this year. In the meantime, you could update CNP to CE 2009 as mentioned above, plus get the 2008/2009 CNP disc set for the latest data, but you will lose CNP's contour view. "You can't always get what you want, but..." 

CE2009_ENC_n_AIS_screen.JPG

Comments

Ben,

Get used to the AIS Class B Filtering and Removal Selections.

It is built into every new IMO Radar and ECDIS System on the Market!!!!

Yes, it is TRUE that this is an IMO/SOLAS REQUIREMENT that the operator be allowed to filter and REMOVE all Class B Targets from the display!!

While I don't necessarily agree, it is in there and can easily be enabled to make Class B targets vanish instantly from any commerical radar and ECDIS display!

Eric

Posted by: Eric at April 6, 2009 2:42 PM | Reply

I don't get it. What's the point of filtering out targets? Who CAN see them? Other B's?

The NASA can't receive B's, the A's filter them out? ha???

Posted by: SanderO at April 6, 2009 3:44 PM | Reply

I'm totally blown away. Eric is a very reliable source, but I had been told by another reliable source that IMO ships could not now and would not be allowed to blanket filter Class B targets.

And that made sense to me. Didn't the IMO develop Class A and Class B to work together? Aren't there several ways to filter an AIS target screen without losing targets you might actually collide with? (Yes)

I'd really like to see the wording of that requirement and also any guidelines the IMO has put forth on when it's reasonable to filter out Class B and when it isn't.

I maintain that a jury is going frown on any skipper who runs down a boat he or she could have seen had they not filtered out the vessel's AIS data, unless said skipper has a very, very good reason for such filtering.

Posted by: Ben at April 6, 2009 3:46 PM | Reply

Hi Ben,

In the latest IMO software for Furuno FAR-2XX7 Radars have the Class B Filter that is now mandatory for the radar to pass IMO regs.

CRAZY!

Posted by: Anonymous at April 6, 2009 3:55 PM | Reply

The Furuno AIS-150 Class A transponder unit allows the filtering of Class B targets received.

Posted by: CJ3 at April 6, 2009 4:59 PM | Reply

Well, thankfully it now appears that Eric may have overstated the Class B filter. More research is being done, but apparently the IMO approved Class B filter he's talking about only works in combination with user set safety parameters that define when a filtered target becomes an active target.

In other words, a ship has the responsibility not to filter out targets they might collide with, which certainly makes more sense!

Posted by: Ben at April 6, 2009 5:36 PM | Reply

I couldn't find anything in the IMO publications about filtering class B. The last I saw was MSC.140(76) which said nothing about filtering Class B. There has been some more recent discussion about the Class B distress message functionality which is not part of the specification.

There IS a provision for filtering "SLEEPING" AIS targest in IMO Resolution 191.79 (Section 6.4.3.1) and in fact section 6.4.3.3 says that it should NOT be possible to remove targets from the display.

The text of the resolutions are available at IMO.org

Dan

Posted by: Dan Gingras (Captdang) at April 6, 2009 5:41 PM | Reply

I may have made too strong a statement earlier and I didn't intend to hi-jack the CE post.

Technically, with the specific IMO Radar that I know, there are some safety features to make sure that an AIS Class B Contact could still be displayed.

First, on any radar or plotter that I have seen, there is always the ability to turn on or off ALL AIS contacts.

Second, Newer IMO Radars that I have seen have the ability to turn on and off all Class B contacts while still showing all Class A contacts. However, even though Class B contacts are not displayed, they are still monitored by the minimum CPA/TCPA Alarm parameters set by the Radar Operator. Therefore, even if they are not displayed to remove clutter, as intended, they are still monitored by the underlying software provided the operator has set the appropriate alarm parameters.

The problem is that I don't trust the operators to set and configure the alarm parameters.

I don't know whether CE has this monitoring capability while hiding the Class B contacts or not but, the larger radars I have seen do.

Eric

Posted by: Eric at April 6, 2009 6:03 PM | Reply

Dan, I think the latest rules are in a document known as IEC 62288 (2008), which I'd really like to get my mitts on. But the PDF seems to cost 281 Swiss Francs, which is harsh.

http://tinyurl.com/dhj2rr

Posted by: Ben at April 6, 2009 6:25 PM | Reply

Posted by: CJ3 at April 6, 2009 10:47 PM | Reply

Filtering Class B seems obvious.

AIS may be on a relatively limited display, or even text or on a primary radar as an overlay. Not always a ton of space. Fast moving Class B, especially somewhere like SF bay, is going to be annoying to deal with.

Most large shipping traffic domestically has Class A already. In controlled channels and other areas, it's those guys that are way up on the list.

At night, open ocean, turn on class B. I for one would appreciate the control.

Posted by: JohnD at April 7, 2009 12:04 AM | Reply

Thanks, CJ3, but that's just the preview.

Posted by: Ben at April 7, 2009 12:41 AM | Reply

I could see a need to filter class B for an instant. For example while a button is depressed (clicked on). This way a commercial ship can easily see other ships with (assumed) limited ability to maneuver.

Let's face facts, large ships have routinely assumed that small boats will get out of their way. I assume the filter class B option foster this assumption. This is dangerous.

Posted by: Peter at April 7, 2009 9:34 AM | Reply

Frankly, I got tired of Maptech's lack of support. I never felt that they were willing to put effort into to CNP beyond charts. It is hard to see a future with CNP.

I was actually surprised that Rose Point's price for me was only $99. I'm happy and feel that I now have a product with a future.

Mike

Posted by: Lookout Sailors at April 7, 2009 10:37 AM | Reply

"Let's face facts, large ships have routinely assumed that small boats will get out of their way. I assume the filter class B option foster this assumption."

I don't believe those are the facts, Peter, though staying away from ships is never a bad idea.

I am reading IEC 62288, and will write about it soon. I can assure all that the IMHO is not enabling ships to simply filter Class B targets off their screens, and not worry about them. Rosepoint seems to be giving users that option, but the IMO is most definitely not.

Posted by: Ben at April 7, 2009 11:22 AM | Reply

Via e-mail:

Ben,

Thank you for your recent review of Coastal Explorer 2009. You raised a few issues that warrant some Rose Point commentary.

Over the last year we have focused development efforts on expanding our founding vision; that of users being able to easily gather and share information with other boaters through the Coastal Explorer Network. The new version also contains many other new features that you have pointed out. The cruise mode interface improves ease of use and works with touch screens. The Chart update process has been streamlined saving users a lot of time.

Maptech and Chart Navigator Pro:

We spent a lot of time weighing our options regarding how to move forward with the new Maptech. We wanted to make sure that customers continued to have software support, but at the same time discontinue licensing the software. In a time of market consolidation we wanted to focus on building our core brand. The $99 upgrade fee covers our increased support requirements and product cost. The benefit to the users is that they get a new software version that continues to support all their Maptech data (including 3D) and gain access to future Coastal Explorer upgrades.

AIS Class B

I’m a bit surprised about your reaction to AIS Class B. The feature was added at the request of one of our international distributors, who conveyed the consensus opinion of many of their users, which related to their real world experiences. AIS Class B devices have been available in Europe for longer than the US, as a result there are many more of them. In certain areas (Kiel Canal in Denmark for example) the AIS class B targets are overwhelming and distract from important vessels and other pertinent chart information. Users needed to see who’s big, who can run into me, too many targets on the screen distracted from this. Remember it’s an option, if users do not think its safe they should leave AIS Class B devices turned on. What would you rather see? The vessels that can do some serious harm and cannot easily alter course, or all the vessels crowding the screen. The reality is it depends on the situation and that’s why it’s an option just like many others. Coastal Explorer user have always had a wide range of display controls including depths, lights, contours and many other features that can be configured, or even turned off, as can a layer. Is it unsafe to navigate without depths on the chart? Maybe, maybe not, it depends on the situation. If you are in the middle of the ocean maybe it’s OK, but maybe not, depends on the ocean; the same is true for AIS Class B.

The AIS Class B discussion is worthy but tends to take away from the main point, which is that Rose Point has just released another great upgrade to its leading line-up of recreational and commercial software products.

Jeff Hummel
Rose Point Navigation Systems

Posted by: Ben at April 7, 2009 8:33 PM | Reply

Jeff, I am one of your beta testers ... and want to add that Ben's gripe resonates strongly with me. I urge you to reconsider that feature. I find it chilling that my safety could be compromised because some knucklehead in New York clicks the box in your software, for any reason.

Can there be some other way to make large ships stand out, without filtering out the display of class B and/or take class A & B ships that are irrevelent to the immediate safety of the user and shrink or alternately enlarge but shadow them on the display so they don't blot out the other icons and text on the marks ?

At some level I also have to wonder, if all the class B targets overwhelm and distract .. that the user should zoom in their map ... maybe that option could be automated ? What would your international distributor suggest ?

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at April 8, 2009 6:55 AM | Reply

Jeff, thanks for posting on Panbo, much appreciated.  I’m really liking CE 2009 and promise I’ll write about more of its features, and without a mention of Class B AIS!

But today I want to argue more about Rosepoint’s decision to include an “ignore all” Class B filter.  First off, I remain dubious that there really is a cluttering problem yet.  I’ve got Siitech.com’s AIS viewer open right now and it covers a fair bit of waterway around Denmark, including the Kiel Canal. I’m sure it undercounts Class Bs because of their low transmit wattage, but it’s only showing twenty Class B transponders versus 1,067 Class As.  As noted, I’ve yet to see a screen shot illustrating Class B clutter, and will gladly publish such shots on Panbo.

But let’s assume that there will be a clutter problem when Class B really takes hold.  Why not adopt the careful approach taken by the IMO?  As I discussed a bit yesterday, IEC 62366 and 62266 describe many techniques for focusing a target display on what’s truly important — like showing currently non-dangerous targets as smaller ‘sleeping’ target icons and even disappearing, but still tracking, them.  But the IMO does not permit an AIS plotter to ignore targets your vessel might actually collide with.

Jeff, I think you’re already on shaky ground when you find yourself comparing the “ignore all” Class B option with turning off depth soundings.  And consider that — unlike the rocks a no-soundings user might run over — a Class B vessel can get hurt, and can litigate.

But it’s about more than individual incidents of misuse.  The adoption of Class B AIS has been held back in part because many potential users believe that ships will ignore or even filter them out.  I think that fear is highly exaggerated, and worry that well respected Rosepoint is endorsing it by including an explicit “ignore all” Class B filter.  Please remove it, and consider less dangerous ways to declutter AIS plotting.  If anyone could make the IMO ideas work well in practice, it would be Rosepoint Navigation.

Posted by: Ben at April 8, 2009 9:57 AM | Reply

I too am extremely disappointed in Rosepoint's decision to premit hiding class B targets. So much so that I can no longer recommend this product to customers. I challenge the distributor's sugestion that customers would even admit to wanting to ignore "little boats". That amounts to a CLM (career limiting manuever) for a Maritime professional. I believe someone should discretely canvas those clients for a confirmation. And I am surprised that a software publisher would open the door to the litigation that would mushroom after a connected accident.

That distributor may have thought to use this feature as a selling point to break into the professional market. It seems to have backfired!

Posted by: Sandy Daugherty at April 19, 2009 8:39 PM | Reply

With reference to the controversy of omiting AIS
class B boats from the Coastal Explorer display the following could be a possible compromise. After a specified time period, the software could revert to showing Class B boats. Possibily every 24 hours, or even every hour. In addition, the display could have a large indicator showing that Class B boats are not being shown. This should keep an operator permantly omiting Class B boats from the display.

Posted by: Neil at April 26, 2009 7:33 PM | Reply

I entered a suggestion in the CE suggestion board a week ago, and received a fairly rude response about "needing a lesson in reality"

The commenter went on to write "Filtering out the brain dead types who install a Class B transponder and fail to operate it correctly is a must!" ... obviously in favor of filtering class B.

After asking for clarification thru the suggestion board and direct thru email, I have not received a reply.

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at April 27, 2009 8:59 AM | Reply

Note that after writing this entry I learned that CE is not the only charting program that permits users to ignore all Class B transponders, unfortunately. See the comments section here:

http://www.panbo.com/archives/2009/04/class_b_ais_filtering_a_meme.html

Posted by: Ben at May 1, 2009 11:16 AM | Reply

I am at a loss about the CE suggestion board poster on "brain dead types who install a Class B transponder and fail to operate it correctly". Am I missing something, or is there not anything to operate on a Class B transponder. It is preconfigured with static information by a professional, and the only dynamic information comes from the GPS (and possibly giro heading sensor). How do you "fail to operate it correctly"?

I am also disappointed with Rosepoint's reply, I was looking at switching from Raytech Navigator to CE, but am not going to support a company that makes my $1,500 safety equipment investment for my sailboat worthless. The whole point of the investment is to make my boat more visible to people who move a whole lot faster than 8 knots, and/or do not see my anchor light.

Evan

Posted by: Evan at May 5, 2009 10:03 PM | Reply

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