Digital policy


Digital infrastructure
River Information Services (RIS) streamline the information exchange between public
and private parties to improve the safety, sustainability and efficiency in inland waterway transport. RIS are the waterway transport equivalent of ITS, SESAR, VTS, ERMTS.

Digital Inland Waterway AREA (DINA)
In 2016, the European Commission commissioned a study to investigate the potential for digitalisation in inland waterway transport and to define a concept for the Digital Inland Waterway Area - DINA. This DINA study concluded that it is essential for the future competitiveness of inland waterway transport to follow the trends in digitalisation: in some cases inland waterway transport competes with other modes of transport whilst in other cases waterways are part of a larger multi-modal chain making collaboration an essential prerequisite. The study has identified three areas where digitalisation is critically important for transport by waterways:

  1. Improvement of navigation and management of traffic is necessary to make more efficient use of the capacity of infrastructure and to reduce fuel costs for vessel operators.
  2. Integration with other modes of transport especially in multimodal hubs: this is necessary to optimise processes in terminals and to allow for an improved integration of waterway transport in supply chains and multi-modal logistics operations thereby potentially attracting additional customers.
  3. Reduction of the administrative burden: reducing the number of business-to-government declarations (thereby saving costs and improving efficiency) and making law-enforcement more efficient and effective.

Better data and information governance is needed
The DINA study also mapped a series of legal and commercial barriers to data sharing, relating to privacy, liability and commercial sensitivity. These lead to barge operators lacking up-to-date information on traffic conditions, ship operators not sharing detailed voyage plans with the fairway authorities, a limited integration of barge operators with booking and cargo management systems of shippers and logistics service providers and red tape caused by ‘declaration based’ reporting in combination with a limited re-use of the reported data by the authorities. Better data governance could help to overcome this, building upon the general digital tools, privacy regulations, CEF building blocks and one-only principle put forward by the European Commission. A new DINA expert group, including INE, will advise the Commission how to take this forward.

Multimodality, an integrated solution towards sustainability
While in the RIS COMEX waterway managers work to make RIS available throughout transport corridors across borders to integrate fragmented local systems and pave the way for integrated information access to ship operators and logistics players, the EU Digital Transport and Logistics Forum (DTLF) has formulated a Digital declaration. Subgroups have been working on electronic freight transport documents and interoperability including governance of the sprawl of corridor information systems.
The DTLF corridor report stresses the need for a federative platform and private solutions to become interoperable resulting in a set of standardised services to organisations, supporting both businesses of the private sector and governance procedures of the public sector for inland waterways, rail and road.

Status of RIS implementation and next steps
Digitalisation at work
RIS COMEX project 
ST4W project 


Policy recommendations

INE advocates the review of the 2005 Directive on River Information Services (RIS) in 2018 to make inland waterways easy-to-use and to enable digital integration with other modes of transport in logistics.

This requires, in close coordination with all industry stakeholders:

Seamless corridor management services across the European waterway network, including common solutions for the provision of services and the governance thereof
EU support programmes to reserve adequate budgets for effective implementation and further development.

Education and training of all involved staff

EU-wide legal basis for cross-border data exchange of fairway, voyage, cargo & traffic information
Proper management and maintenance of RIS systems and services
Close gaps of shore-based Inland AIS infrastructure as enabler for controlled position data sharing between governmental RIS infrastructure and logistics appliances
Introduction of carriage requirement for Inland AIS transponders on all main inland waterways
Links between RIS, eTools and other digital applications to ensure future compatibility





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16 Apr 2018

Sharing navigable depth measurements allows ships to navigate more efficiently in future and make maximum use of the navigable area provided by the waterway

European Inland Barging Innovation Platform (EIBIP) established by the EICB, Mariko, viadonau, Voies navigables de France. 


16 Nov 2017

Waterway managers collaborate to make RIS available across borders and throughout transport corridors