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River-based Information, Navigation and Communication



River-based Information, Navigation and Communication

Background & policy context: 

Traffic development on European inland waterways stagnates well beyond its possibilities. At the same time, land-based freight transport suffers from congested roads and unsatisfactory rail services. Inland navigation may contribute considerably to the solution of these problems.

Present day inland navigation is based on voice communication and shipboard radar. More information needs to be available and presented to ships’ crews as traffic density increases, vessels grow larger and in consequence have more limited manoeuvrability, and requirements for training, qualification and certification are tightening.


The general objective of RINAC is the identification of the functional requirements for introducing a river-based information, navigation and communication system on board an inland navigation vessel which is integrated with the shore-based radar and transponder systems for traffic monitoring and individual vessel tracking and identification.

The specific objective is to examine the need for the installation of an additional information system, ie in addition to the vessel’s navigation display system.


The task will be approached by identifying the functional requirements to introduce RINAC as the control centre on board an inland navigation vessel consisting of a navigation display and a communication console and including the integration of shore-based radar and transponder systems, the integration of the existing sensor equipment on board, including new sensor technologies and sophisticated auto pilots, and the integration of communication equipment on the basis of available hydrographic and infrastructural data.

A review of present day training courses and certification in the different countries needs to be carried out and the harmonisation of a common, West European licence needs to be evaluated.

The project will also make use of a number of scenarios of river traffic conditions and work with reference ships, including tankers. Special requirements for push barge trains will be considered.

Institution Type:
Institution Name: 
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
Type of funding:
Key Results: 

RINAC has produced:

  • an integrated architecture for information, navigation and communication systems on-board vessels, introducing four main building blocks: user layer, application layer, distribution layer and communication layer;
  • a review of River Information Services (RIS), looking at the functional definition of information flows, and distinguishing between tactical and strategic data on traffic;
  • an overview of the typical current communication situation onboard vessels, analysing tactical, strategic and fairway information needs; recent developments in terrestrial and satellite-based communication have been reviewed to help define the RINAC communication layer;
  • an investigation of sensor requirements for inland waterway navigation and the available technologies (differential GPS, radar, heading and sensor platform instruments) contributing to the definition of the internal communication layer;
  • an inventory of requirements in data management focusing on the development of inland Electronic Chart Display Information Systems (ECDIS), reviewing recent activities in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and France, and providing input for the definition of the distribution layer;
  • an overview of requirements of the Human Machine Interface (HMI), decomposed to two levels (tactical and strategic information);
  • an overview of present training and certification requirements for skippers of inland waterway vessels;
  • recommendations on the future education and training of personnel onboard inland waterway vessels and the certification requirements for equipment providing enhanced information services to improve safety and efficiency.

Policy implications

The project has delivered an architecture for information, navigation and communication systems on-board inland ships, at a generic level. The proposed equipment needs to be field-tested to evaluate its performance and true benefits. Further investigations are recommended to analyse the effects on workload and operator performance (including one-man operation) when combining radar equipment and ECDIS.


The main partners are:

The NetherlandsNetherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, Physics and Electronics Laboratory (TNO-FEL), Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management - Transport Research Centre, Marine Analytics BV, Maritime Simulation Centre, Litton Marine Systems BV, Holland Institute of Traffic Technology BV.GermanyDaimler - Benz Aerospace AG (DASA), Europäisches Entwicklungszentrum für die Binnenschiffahrt eV Duisburg (EBD), Seven Cs Entwicklungsgesellschaft f. Geo-Informatik mbH (SevenCs).FinlandVTT Manufacturing Technology, Maritime TechnologyFranceInstitut Français de Navigation, IFSTTAR, Opeform.ItalyPolo Tecnologico Marino Marittimo (PTMM).

Contact Name: 
Mr Wim F.M. van der Heijden
Contact Email: 
Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO-FEL)
Oude Waalsdorperweg 63 P.O. Box 96864
2597 AK
The Hague
Contact country:
+31 70 374 03 32
Fax Number: 
+31 70 374 06 53