The electronic chart is a new technology capable of continuously determining a vessel's position in relation to land, charted objects, aids-to-navigation, and unseen hazards. As a real-time navigation system, electronic charting provides significant benefits in terms of improvements in navigation safety, efficiency of maritime transportation, and marine environmental protection.
In terms of system components, features and functional capability, there are two basic types of electronic charts. The most advanced form is an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). All other types can be regarded, generically, as Electronic Chart Systems (ECS). For an electronic chart to be considered an ECDIS, it must comply with the Performance Standards for ECDIS formally adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in November 1995 . In particular, an ECDIS must use official Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC) data in order to meet the chart carriage requirements contained in regulation V/19 of the 1974 SOLAS Convention as amended in 2000 . IMO specifically requested that Member Governments have their National Hydrographic Offices (HOs) produce electronic navigational charts (ENCs) and the associated updating service as soon as possible, and to ensure that manufacturers conform to the performance standards when designing and producing electronic charting equipment.
International Hydrographic Organization
Alexander, Lee, "ENC Distribution Options Based on WEND" (2004). Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping. 1168.