The concept of River Information Services (RIS) has been proposed to
provide a harmonised basis across the EU for the management of services
which reduce risks for safety and environment while maximising the
efficiency of navigation. The RIS concept relies on the use of information
and communication technologies for the provision of enhanced information
for navigational purposes as well as for fleet, resource and cargo
management. To achieve enhanced communication and interaction between
ships, shore-based traffic management and monitoring centres and transport
companies, standards for information have to be developed and practical
tests need to be set to demonstrate the value of RIS services to the
The main project aim was to set specifications for, demonstrate and assess communication technologies, management procedures and information services for the RIS concept. Specific project aims were to:
- define the functionalities of the RIS concept;
- develop open standards for communication and data exchange;
- demonstrate and assess in four sites (Danube, Seine, Flemish and Rhine-Scheldt demonstrators) the provision of shore-based or shore-made on-board traffic images, the use of Strategic Traffic Images using ship-based electronic reporting procedures, the usefulness of Fairway Information Systems for voyage planning, the setting of an inland ECDIS platform derived from the standard designed for maritime navigation;
- provide a demonstration platform for showing future applications to authorities and users.
The INDRIS project has successfully demonstrated the technical realisation of the RIS concept and many of its elements. Achievements include:
- the incorporation of new technologies in inland navigation (AIS transponders and inland ECDIS);
- the development of a framework for West-European co-operation on RIS, standards and harmonisation (RIS guidelines, Inland ECDIS standards, AIS standards);
- the development of more user-oriented applications not only for Vessel Traffic Management and safety of navigation but oriented also to value-added services to the transport industry (VTM in large areas, on-board applications, logistic and transport information exchange).
Inland ECDIS, which is now available in experimental form for parts of the Danube and the Rhine, turned out to be a very strong platform for a number of tactical and strategic applications. EDI reporting based on the BICS system proved a success in avoiding confusing communication especially for dangerous goods transport and is operational after INDRIS in a number of countries.
The assessment of user satisfaction showed a positive idea of RIS which was thought to significantly improve efficiency and safety. Benefits from use of the RIS services have been estimated for private parties (improved management of the vessel, improved reliability of transport by voyage planning, reduced fuel consumption and waiting times at locks), waterway authorities (reduction of VTS centres, reduced dredging work, delay of investments of locks) and society as a whole (shift of road traffic to waterborne transport). Safety improvements are also anticipated due to more reliable and improved information and reduced workload of the navigator using automatic reporting.
INDRIS has been the beginning of a European network of VTMIS systems for inland navigation. The project succeeded in attracting parties that were not in the project in the beginning and nearly all West-European countries now support its results. INDRIS has been an important step in the development of public-private partnership. However, co-operation, especially between industrial partners, should be further stimulated. A first step towards the implementation of the results of the INDRIS demonstrators has been made in the Netherlands with the establishment of a committee with representatives of the administrations involved.
Specific organisational measures are required to collect and maintain data for ECDIS. Existing AIS transponders should be changed to the standards as agreed in IMO as they could be used in areas of mixed traffic with maritime and inland navigation. A supra-national agency in charge of approving, amending and issuing standards and harmonisation procedures, is advocated to enable further developments of the RIS. This should be applied to all countries, EU and non-EU, that belong to the major river basins in Europe.
The main benefits for the users are: