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Posted 9/3/2015

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By Katie Newton, public affairs

The USACE Inland Electronic Navigational Chart (IENC) Program is responsible for all inland navigational charts in the United States, which commercial and recreational users rely on. The Army Geospatial Center (AGC) recognized the need for an app that allows boaters to easily view the navigation charts from their mobile devices like smart phones and tablets and tapped into the resources the Louisville District has to offer to develop this capability.

Drew McPheron, a computer engineering co-op student from the University of Louisville, has been developing the new app, which distributes 107 inland charts via the web through Amazon Web Services. 

“Drew has done a really good job developing the app and is extremely receptive to ideas for improvement,” said Denise LaDue with the Army Geospatial Center. “He’s been extremely responsive and proactive.”

McPheron has developed the code for searching the database of each river and displaying the code for KML files on Google Earth. McPheron, who used Java programming, XML, and Android Studio to work on the app is happy that his skills have been put to good use, especially to benefit others. 

“When I first started helping with the app, functionality and ease of use were the most important parts I considered,” said McPheron. “I wanted it to both work properly and be user-friendly.” 

Currently, these charts are only available easily by using a desktop computer or hard copy charts that must be ordered through the Government Printing Office. 

“The app itself, I imagine, is going to be used very broadly by the commercial industry, like the towing companies, and recreational users as well,” said LaDue. 

The prototype of the mobile app for Android devices is still in the early stages of development but the plans are for it to be refined and enhanced in the coming weeks. 

Changes will include the USACE branding on the opening page of the app, query by miles, state or individual chart cell, and web map services. The IENC program is anticipating early October 2015 for beta testing of the application.