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Vessel Traffic Management and Information Services Concerted Action

European Union
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Waterborne icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues


Background & Policy context

Studies under the Third Framework Programme concluded that there was a need for further development - under the name of Vessel Traffic Management and Information Services (VTMIS) - of new types of services which could be seen, as a starting point, as extensions of the Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) concept. According to the IMO definition, 'a VTS is any service implemented by a competent authority designed to improve safety and efficiency of traffic and the protection of the environment'. On the basis of the recognition of the diversity of actors involved in waterborne traffic management, the possible conflicts between interests at stake and the constraints which may hinder information exchange, the Commission decided to launch the VTMIS concerted action. Trade in Europe is fundamental to economic development and intermodal transport is a key factor in facilitating this trade. It is therefore necessary that EU shipping keeps pace with market requirements for the distribution of goods and that short sea shipping is integrated in intermodal transport chains in order to provide efficient and dependable door-to-door services. Innovative shipping concepts need to be examined to help promote EU shipping. The provision of frequent, reliable, safe and cost-effective sea transport is a primary concern in certain peripheral areas of the EU where no alternatives exist to cargo transport by ship.


The general objective of the VTMIS CA was to act as a co-ordinating structure for the exchange of views between EU experts on the potential for development and implementation of information interchanges and value added services beyond the currently practised VTS.


Specific aims were to:

  • review the state of the art and identify themes for further investigation,
  • discuss and adopt definitions of the VTMIS concept, and
  • issue guidelines on VTMIS developments for policy makers, system designers and end users.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


Preliminary studies (reported as the TECHNISEC project in this Knowledge Centre web site) addressed four specific issues likely to be strongly influenced by future developments of VTMIS: relationships between traffic and transport management, high speed craft, VTMIS operators' qualification and training, and the organisation of European search and rescue and pollution combating services. A glossary of terms, a vast literature review and a database describing the most important VTS established along the European coastline have been produced.


The VTMIS CA has determined that VTMIS is not a system but the concept for a scope of services intended to maximise the efficiency of waterborne transport and connect modes, while at the same time minimising risks for safety and the environment.

The following definition has been adopted: 'VTMIS include services distributing in given areas (at regional, national

or trans-national level) the pertinent information to be used both in real time and in retrieval modes by the actors involved. The implementation of or participation in a VTMIS in a given area does not presuppose the existence of any specific type of equipment as long as it is adequate for the tasks to be performed. However, it implies that all services which are or will be implemented in the area, such as VTS, allied services and other information services, are interlinked and co-operate according to commonly harmonised procedures'.

Policy implications

VTMIS provides a traffic image for use by authorities, ports and companies involved in vessels and cargoes. VTMIS is considered a promising concept to support vessel traffic management, port resource management, and fleet and cargo flow management. R&D on VTMIS has shown that many applications are technologically possible. However, a policy for a structured development based on knowledge of real needs has not yet been established.


The various parties have to start exchanging information that is partly commercially sensitive. Co-operation and overall optimisation of the information exchange require an authority or service provider as a driving force or catalyst, and the creation of win-win situations for all parties involved. VTMIS can offer tailor-made information, and this could be sold to other users when compensation in kind is not possible.


VTMIS may best be developed bottom up, with individual information exchange systems being developed separately. However, this must be done with an eye to the wider view and needs of others, a fair distribution of costs and benefits for all parties, respect for the confidentiality of the information, and an open architecture of hardware and software.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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