Major improvements in the safety and efficiency of maritime transport and protection of the environment may be expected from the extensive use of modern information technology and telecommunications to collect, store, and process relevant information which can then be made immediately available to those involved in maritime and intermodal transport activities. VTMIS is addressing both the definition of the European user requirements for vessel traffic management information systems and the projects that are developing tools to improve the performances and the roles of VTS operators.
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From the second and third Framework Programmes a number of research projects concerning VTS and VTMIS have developed improved systems for traffic control and assistance along the European coastline. The results of a number of projects are being further development by the fourth Framework Programme, such as:
· COMFORTABLE - The COMFORTABLE project aims to develop tools for operators of Vessel Traffic Services for recognition and assessment of traffic situations.
· MOVIT - The MOVIT project aims to provide a transportable system for the on-site evaluation of traffic operational conditions, in particular flow and density. The mobile system will be equivalent to a complete Vessel Traffic Management Information System.
· VASME - The VASME Project concerns the design and development of an automated, voice-operated information system, using Very High Frequency radiotelephone, for the provision of ‘on-demand’ information for any kind of vessel. It will provide real-time access to an unlimited set of Value Added Services (VAS). Information packages that may be provided with VAS include administrative, commercial, technical and navigational information systems.
· VTMIS-NET - The challenge of VTMIS-NET is to provide and information exchange network for already existing Vessel Traffic Services, Vessel Traffic Management and Information Services and other maritime information services which provide vessels with relevant information for their safe and efficient passage, such as meteorological and hydrographic conditions, navigational data, maritime environmental information and emergenc
This project will establish the Technical Secretariat of the Concerted Action and assist the Commission and the Concerted Action Management Committee with respect to:
- the organisation and follow-up of meetings. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office' />
- the preparation of a work plan.
- a review of the state of the art and the organisation in the Netherlands, of a workshop aiming at drawing up conclusions on this topic.
- the follow-up of the demonstrations and the assessment of the corresponding equipment.
- the preparation of recommendations for future research and possible on site implementation of VTMIS.
Based on a review of research actions in the field of Vessel Traffic Management and Transport Management, a first study has classified actors as information users and information holders. It has also identified the information flows with their standard protocols and types of transmission and the solutions for interconnectivity of different information systems.
A second study has identified similarities and differences in the organisation of SAR and POL services. Differences include: the ways that services are administered at regional and local levels, different attitudes to the interpretation of the rights for intervention set out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982) in POL services, and the role of non-profit making organisations in SAR services.
A third study has focused on training and qualification of VTS/VTMIS operators in Germany, Spain and The Netherlands. Differences between the three countries have been highlighted regarding the general philosophy of the responsible administrations and the use of simulation facilities and on the spot training.
A fourth study has collected data on the behaviour of high-speed craft (HSC) in the Dover Straits. When HSC are involved in traffic composed of conventional ships, regular infringements of the International Regulations for Preventing Collision at Sea (COLREGs) are observed. HSC are also found to have developed their own code of operations regarding 'avoiding collision situation arising'.
The first study has highlighted the need for improvements mainly in the performance of ports, which have to create interfaces to a lot of different information systems. There is a need for research to identify areas where further integration of Vessel Traffic Management and Transport Management information systems is desired, and who is able and willing to provide what information to whom.
The second study has stressed the need for the setting up of operational procedures to be agreed upon by the competent SAR and POL actors as a prerequisite for the establishment of interoperable standardised databases.
The third study has recommended further investigation into the training and qualification of VTS/VTMIS operators and harmonised actions regarding the discrepancies existing between the provisions adopted at national level and those adopted by the IMO Resolution A.587(20).
The fourth study has recommended further research to establish whether, in the light of growth of fast vessel traffic, some modifications of the COLREGs should be envisaged in the future.