River Information Services

River Information Services (RIS) is the concept whereby information services in inland navigation support traffic and transport management in inland navigation, including interfaces with other modes of transport. Directive 2005/44/EC on harmonised river information services on the EU’s inland waterways (hereinafter referred to as the RIS Directive) requires Member States to implement RIS according to certain standards. The RIS are expected to improve safety, efficiency and the environmental friendliness of inland navigation. The EU has taken a global approach that encompasses policy development, a legal framework, support for research and development and monitoring of implementation of the legislation.

The RIS Directive refers to the four key technologies: Inland Electronic Chart Display and Information System (Inland ECDIS), Notices to Skippers (NtS), Inland (AIS) and Electronic Reporting International (ERI). These technologies are based on technical and operational standards which were initially defined and are continuously updated by the RIS Expert Groups. The RIS Directive demands Member States to implement RIS according to these standards. A major contribution to the standardisation process has been the European Commission’s adoption through technical regulations of standards for Inland ECDIS, Notices to Skippers (NtS), Vessel Tracking and Tracing (VTT) and Electronic Reporting International (ERI).

The standardisation and its harmonisation in European countries aim to better fulfil the RIS Objectives as follows:

  • Enhancement of safety in inland ports and rivers,

  • Enhance the efficiency of inland navigation - optimise the resource management of the waterborne transport chain by enabling information exchange between vessels, locks, bridges, terminals and ports,

  • Better and more effective use of the inland waterway infrastructure - providing information on the status of fairways,

  • Environmental protection - providing traffic and transport information for an efficient calamity abatement process,

  • Better integration of IWT into multimodal supply chains trough accurate and timely information to support transport management.

The services included in the RIS concept are for example:

  • Information on fairways to plan, execute and monitor voyages by boat masters and fleet managers (e.g. water levels, aids to navigation, fairway information, opening hours of locks etc). The information comprises geographical, hydrological, meteorological and traffic related data.

  • Traffic information services comprise information on vessel positions to allow for tactical or strategic planning.

  • Traffic management aims at optimising the use of the infrastructure as well as facilitating safe navigation especially at RIS Centers as well as at locks and bridges.

  • Calamity abatement services (CAS) are responsible for registering vessels and their transport data at the beginning of a trip and updating the data during the voyage with the help of a ship reporting system. In case of an accident the responsible authorities are capable of providing the data immediately to the rescue and emergency teams.

  • Information for transport management includes estimated times of arrival (ETA's) provided by boat masters and fleet managers based on fairway information making it possible to plan resources for port and terminal processes. Information on cargo and fleet management basically comprises two types of information: information on the vessels and the fleet and detailed information on the cargo transported.

  • tatistics and customs services: the RIS improves and facilitates the collection of inland waterway statistical data in the Member States.

  • Waterway charges and port dues: the travel data of the ship can be used to automatically calculate the charge and initiate the invoicing procedure.

RIS are servicing operational perspectives such as:

  • Traffic-related information benefits all parties when it comes to safety.

  • Transport-related information which focuses mainly on efficiency.

Based on the requirements of the RIS Directive, the RIS Standards were originally established according to a technical and operational approach. The technical Standards can possibly evolve to a RIS-user centred approach.

The RIS Directive was adopted in 2005 by the European Parliament and the Council on 7 September 2005. DG MOVE began an evaluation in January 2019 of whether the RIS Directive had achieved its objectives. On the basis of this evaluation, it will decide whether an impact assessment should be carried out with a view to a possible revision of the Directive. The results of the evaluation of the RIS Directive are foreseen at the end of 2019 or at the latest during the first half of 2020, which could lead to the possible full revision of the RIS Directive.

Within the current concept of RIS, the four technical standards are designed in silos, largely independent of each other. The RIS Standards were originally elaborated according to a technical and operational approach and they need to now evolve to a more RIS-user centered approach. Besides, the future concept of RIS depends on the revision of the RIS Directive and transversal topics such as automation of inland navigation and cybersecurity, as well as the introduction of electronic documents and digital tools, could potentially imply an in-depth evolution of these four key RIS standards.. This could likely justify merging the work of the four temporary Working groups.

On 8 November 2018, CESNI adopted its work programme 2019-2021, including the section on information technologies, as well as revising its priority system (I, II, III and Permanent). The implementation of the CESNI work programme is also supported by a multiannual financial framework for the same period.