PIBHMC was established as a result of a long-standing relationship between the University of Hawaii’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). SOEST has a history of support for NOAA research operations and mapping activities. The NOAA ships Ka‘imimoana, Oscar Elton Sette and Hi‘ialakai operate out of the UH Marine Center at Snug Harbor and, when NOAA Fisheries initiated the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) in 2001, SOEST was asked to help CRED develop a mapping program to delineate the benthic habitats of coral reef environments. SOEST provided mapping experts to select the sonars and mapping equipment that would best perform the task. Since that time, SOEST has continued to work with NOAA researchers to support this important program, providing expertise in survey management and systems engineering as well as data collection, analysis and display.
PIBHMC is located adjacent to the Hawaii Mapping Research Group (HMRG) in the Pacific Ocean Science and Technology (POST) building on the UH Manoa campus. NOAA computing resources have been co-located with HMRG equipment and similar data processing paths have been established; this allows each group to work with the otherís data. Work assignments are coordinated to most effectively utilize the talents of each individual and balance the work load between the two groups.
SOESTís working relationship with NOAA is exemplified by the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR), which was created in 1977 by an agreement between NOAA and UH. JIMAR was established to pursue the common research interests of NOAA and the UH in oceanic, atmospheric, and geophysical research. JIMAR provides administrative support for the PIBHMC.