GIS is a tool that is increasingly used within the offshore industry for data presentation, visualisation and analysis, by both the survey contractor and the client. Data presentation and production has evolved over recent years, and GIS has become a popular means of data production and delivery. Many of the offshore industries request and use their data in different ways Oil and Gas sectors often require traditional paper charts with CAD digital files, although increasingly there is a requirement for GIS datasets for input into company wide systems. The telecommunications industry now typically request GIS compatible files, for inclusion in company wide databases and systems. Many of the telecommunications companies operate GIS systems for cable lay and maintenance of assets A number of other hydrograpic and coastal industries are developing their GIS capabilities, and it is becoming an increasingly popular medium for the presentation and manipulation of seafloor and coastal data.


The use of GIS with the Hydrographic Industry has increased dramatically over the last 5 years. Not only has there been an increased use of corporate GIS, but also increasingly there is greater use from the Survey and Mapping specialists, and site investigators. It is these people who have gained the most from the introduction of GIS into the offshore community. Survey contractors have been faced with the challenge of accommodating their clients who are now utilising GIS technology, and have found the need to adapt and utilise new technologies and systems to satisfy the client's needs. This paper will present, from the survey contractors perspective, the changes that have evolved from in the use of GIS within the client's business. It will identify the benefits of GIS for visualisation and presentation of hydrograpic survey data, and how GIS can help to bring together a number of different sectors using and investigating the seafloor It will also identify a number of different methods of presenting GIS functionality to users.

What is GIS?

For those who may be unfamiliar with GIS and the concepts of GIS, a brief introduction may be useful What is GIS? GIS stands for Geographical Information System. A GIS is mapping software that links information about what things are with information about what things are like. Unlike the paper map, where "What you see is what you get" a GIS map can combine layers of information. A GIS combines layers of information about a place to give you a better understanding of that place A GIs can make available to the viewer only data that is of interest at a particular time, whilst holding all relevant data. Hydrographic surveying has traditionally made use of CAD CAD is still widely used for offshore data reporting and presentation, but the use of GIS is becoming more common The fundamental difference between CAD and GIs is that GIs deals with real world features, CAD handles graphics using a grid system.

Historical Perspective

A number of significant changes have occurred with the utilisation of GIS within the Hydrographic sectors of industry. This paper will concentrate primarily on the Hydrographic, Geophysical and Geotechnical survey industries, and the client/contractor changes that have occurred over the past decade.

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