Digital transformation

Digitalisation is not an aim in itself. It is a very powerful tool to help achieve the Green Deal objectives. Since the adoption of the River Information Services (RIS) directive at the beginning of this century, much has changed. Safety is still a prime concern and objective. Today, it is supported with new digital tools such as sensors and aquatic drones to collect a wealth of data in support of safer navigation, preventive maintenance and better capacity management. Digitalisation is about applying technology into the existing business and takes place in a decentralised landscape with a broad variety of players (transport modes, logistics and mobility, other sectors, public and private entities, global, European and local actors etc.). INE applauds the Commission’s preparation work to revise the River Information Services Directive with the aim to correct the currents shortcomings in the implementation and prepare for the future.

Digitalisation pathway

  • 2015-2020: Inland Navigation Corridor Management & Inland Port Information Systems
  • 2020-2030: Synchromodal Transport Management
  • 2030-2040: Physical Internet
  • 2040-2050: Zero-emission Synchro-modal Transport

No modal shift without multi-modality

Modal shift is a priority for the Green Deal and cannot do without multi-modal transport management systems. Coordination and interoperability are the first conditions for successful multi-modal smart and connected transport. This requires a common framework to make sure the digital transformation relies on shared definitions, common standards and goals for all transport modes and connecting to other sectors instead of continuing to work in silos. The creation of the European Mobility Data Space is essential without forgetting the connection to other European data spaces.

INE has reflected together with De Vlaamse Waterweg and EFIP on such a common concept for the digital transformation along with 10 guiding principles in order to build the physical internet by 2040 and achieve zero-emission synchro-modal transport by 2050 and looks forward to discussing this with all stakeholders. Synchro-modality boosts the resilience of the entire transport network: whenever something happens within one mode, another mode can take over.

Common multi-modal framework for digitalisation

The importance of supporting infrastructure

When talking about digital, we think first of about information and data as vital components. This infostructure however falls flat without an underlying reliable infrastructure such as fast mobile broadband coverage, multi-modal hubs, efficient automated transshipment, automated and smart infrastructure (remote control), new concepts of carriers (green, small, autonomous, different and new cargos types) and performant communication technologies. We need to invest in a reliable and smart interplay for the system to be able to adapt to varying situations taking into account multiple variables. An intelligent system allows optimisation of traffic management and network decisions based on different sets of data, for instance related to infrastructure, logistics, traffic, meteorology and hydro-morphology in the case of waterways. Physical objects will be mirrored by digital twins that capture data from different ecosystems by means of artificial intelligence clearing the way for progressive automation.

Modal shift will be boosted by a multi-modal approach to the digital transformation