This MoU was signed by Rob Steele, ISO Secretary-General, and Alexandros Maratos, President, Directing Committee of the IHO.

The IHO, based in Monaco, is the inter-governmental organization that sets the international standards for nautical charting and hydrography. It is increasingly aligning its standards with the International Standards developed by ISO/TC 211.

The MoU concerns strengthening the existing cooperation between the IHO and ISO technical committee, ISO/TC 211, Geographic information/Geomatics, on International Standards related to hydrography and nautical charting and related data, products and services, and seeks to avoid duplication of work.

ISO/TC 211 and the IHO will be able to harmonize their respective work programmes to achieve mutual benefit by sharing expert resources.

Rob Steele comments: "ISO and IHO already work in close cooperation and I know this MoU will reinforce the links between the two organizations and help the domain of geographic information by harmonizing and sharing their best practices. It will provide a framework for the development of sector-specific applications using geographic data also."

Existing IHO specifications for geographic information will be aligned wherever possible with the ISO 19100 series of standards. This series standardizes aspects of the description and management of geographic information services.

IHO already makes an effective contribution to the work of ISO/TC 211 whose scope covers standardization in the field of digital geographic information. ISO/TC 211 was created in 1994 and has already developed 57 International Standards. The overall objectives of the technical committee are to:

  • Increase the understanding and usage of geographic information
  • Increase the availability, access, integration, and sharing of geographical information
  • Promote the efficient, effective, and economic use of digital geographic information and associated hardware and software systems
  • Contribute to a unified approach to addressing global ecological and humanitarian problems.

Alexandros Maratos welcomed the signing of the MoU, by saying: This MoU will ensure that hydrographic information is increasingly available in a form that is based on common and well-understood international standards. This will mean that the information can be used to maximum effect and will improve the benefits for safety of navigation, protection of the marine environment, and global economic development through the sustainable management and use of all the properties and resources of the World’s seas and oceans.

The disciplines of cartography and geography, in response to technological innovations, have individually and collectively undergone significant changes during the past half-century. Traditionally, geographic information was produced and used primarily by the mapping and geographical community. Increasingly, geographic information is being created and used by many other stakeholders, especially in the business and government. Standardization is now helping to facilitate innovation and the international sharing of new developments in this field. Standardization of geographic information facilitates digital information and data exchange and technology-based applications, for example, allowing business and consumers to access location-based information on a variety of mobile devices. In hydrography, standardized electronic navigational charts issued by governments now cover the globe.