Key RIS technologies

Electronic Chart Display and Information System for Inland Navigation (Inland ECDIS)

Since the late 1990s reflections and experiments have been made to use telematics for the support of inland navigation. In different research and development projects the radar image on the display in the skipper’s wheelhouse was underlain by an electronic chart. This is an approach to higher safety and more efficiency of inland navigation.

It turned out in the discussion that only an internationally agreed procedure will be successful, since a skipper cannot be expected to employ different equipment in each country. This was the reason why the internationally introduced and well matured Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) – originally developed for maritime navigation – was also considered for inland navigation. The idea was to adapt ECDIS to inland navigation and to supplement some distinct inland features specific, but not to change the original ECDIS Standard adopted by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). In this way it was possible to have compatibility between the original - Maritime - ECDIS and Inland ECDIS. This is important for the estuaries of the rivers, where maritime vessels as well as inland vessels navigate.

The design for Inland ECDIS was largely developed within the framework of the German ARGO project. The European Union appointed an Inland ECDIS Expert Group in 1998 with the development of an Inland ECDIS Standard. The expert group submitted its first proposal on 1 January 1999. In the year 2000, the competent committees of the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) in Strasbourg installed an Ad-hoc Working Group for Inland ECDIS with the order to draft the Inland ECDIS Standard of the CCNR. The Ad hoc Working Group started with the results of the expert group as the basis for their future work and elaborated the Inland ECDIS Standard. Edition 1.0 was adopted by the CCNR in May 2001 by passing Resolution 2001-I-16 16 KB 12 KB 14 KB . In addition, the Police Regulations Committee was entrusted with updating the standard and with preparing the necessary modifications to the requirements for radar equipment and rate-of-turn indicators and to the Regulation on the Issuing of Radar Licences. Editions 1.01 and 1.02 followed in November 2001 and in October 2003. With Resolution 2006-II-22 18 KB 18 KB 19 KB , the CCNR adopted Edition 2.0 in November 2006. The CCNR thereby took into account the IHO’s new procedures as well as the work of the European Inland ECDIS Expert Group and of the Inland ENC Harmonization Group (IEHG).

In accordance with the mandate specified in Edition 2.0 of the Inland ECDIS Standard, the above-mentioned groups decided on changes to the Encoding Guide for Inland ENCs in 2008. These changes include new objects, attributes and attribute values or new combinations of objects, attributes and attribute values. Although the changes only affect the appendices and changes of content in section 1 through 5 of the Inland ECDIS Standard are not foreseen, for more clarity and with regard to the different structures of various international organisations it is suggested to publish the changes as Edition 2.1 of the Inland ECDIS Standard. The changes in the standard are described in the Clarifications, Corrections and Extensions Document to the Inland ECDIS Standard. The CCNR and other international organisations did not bring Edition 2.1 into force, however, because the European Commission had intended at this time to publish Edition 2.0 as a specification as defined in Directive 2005/44/EC. The CCNR adopted Edition 2.3 in November 2011 and set it into force on 16 October 2012. The standard has been incorporated in the legislation of the European Commission (Implementing Regulation (EU) No 909/2013 of 10 September 2013).

The Inland ECDIS Standard was adopted not only by the CCNR but by the Danube Commission, UN-ECE and PIANC as well, rendering it the first inland navigation standard to enjoy broad international recognition.

Inland ECDIS has an Information Mode, which is basically an electronic atlas that serves to guide and to provide information about the waterway. It is not intended to navigate the vessel. When connected to a navigation sensor providing positioning information, the chart can be adjusted automatically in a way that the own vessel’s position is fixed in the centre of the screen. At its session in the autumn of 2013, the CCNR adopted 177 KB 173 KB 172 KB an obligation to fit Inland ECDIS in information mode (or a comparable device for displaying charts). In accordance with Article 4.07 (3), the device must be connected to an Inland AIS device and must be used in conjunction with an up-to-date electronic inland navigation chart. This decision on the part of the CCNR, which will enter into force on 1 December 2014, will therefore enable a vessel’s skipper to display his vessel’s position and the position of other vessels fitted with Inland AIS on an electronic inland navigation chart. A number of vessel types are exempted from this obligation to fit Inland ECDIS or a comparable device for displaying charts, including ferries and small craft which do not require an inspection certificate under the Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations (RVBR) (see Article 4.07 (1) and (3) of the Police Regulations for the Navigation of the Rhine).

At its spring 2014 session, the CCNR adopted a resolution defining minimum requirements and recommendations applicable to these comparable devices for displaying charts and to Inland ECDIS devices in information mode. (In this mode, the requirements of the Inland ECDIS Standard are to be understood as recommendations only.)

The CCNR has drawn up an information document for skippers to make it easier to implement this decision on the obligation to fit an Inland AIS and an electronic chart display device 2036 KB 2044 KB 2042 KB 2042 KB .

Navigation Mode means the use of Inland ECDIS for conning the vessel using radar and underlain chart image. Inland ECDIS equipment being able to operate in the Navigation Mode is classified as radar equipment as defined by the regulations concerning the minimum requirements, the test conditions, the installation and functional test of radar equipment in the Rhine navigation and as such requires type test and approval. The vessel’s position should be derived from a continuous positioning system whose accuracy is consistent with the requirements of safe navigation. Special requirements apply to determining course and position; they are set out in Section 4, Appendix A, no. 2.1 of the standard. Anyone who uses Inland ECDIS equipment in navigation mode must hold a radar licence.

Electronic navigational charts (ENCs) are available for all navigable sections of the Rhine and for many other waterways in Europe. The CCNR maintains an up-to-date list entitled “Electronic Navigational Charts for Use in Navigation Mode - Competent Authorities and Certified Charts”.

The Inland ECDIS Guide contains more detailed information on ECDIS, the Inland ECDIS Standard, Inland ECDIS equipment and on ENCs and their manufacturing in Europe. It also contains contact addresses of the competent waterway authorities.


Electronic reporting (ERI)

Ship reporting is needed in RIS for strategic traffic information, traffic management, and accident prevention. Electronic reporting makes data interchange between vessels and traffic centres easier than using paper or voice reporting. The regulations on electronic ship reporting also enable the traffic centres of different authorities to exchange their data electronically.

This standard, based on standards and classifications applied at the international level, defines the rules for the interchange of such electronic messages, making it unnecessary to repeat the messages, e.g. in cross-border traffic.

The CCNR adopted the Standard for Electronic Ship Reporting in Inland Navigation, Edition 1.0, with Resolution 2003-I-23 13 KB 14 KB 12 KB in May 2003. Practical experience gathered in applying the standard, as well as the introduction of a unique European vessel identification number and the transition from ERINOT 1.0 to ERINOT 1.2, made it necessary to amend the standard. The CCNR subsequently adopted the Standard for Electronic Ship Reporting in Inland Navigation, Edition 1.2, with Resolution 2006-II-23 25 KB 71 KB 25 KB in November 2006. At the same time the standard was supplemented with the addition of an XML message specification of electronic messages used in inland navigation, responding to increasing use of systems based on the programming syntax XML for transmitting information.

The standard has been incorporated into the European Commission’s legal framework (Regulation (EU) No 164/2010 of 25 January 2010). In April 2013, the Police Regulations Committee adopted a new edition (the “April 2013” edition) of the Standard for Electronic Ship Reporting, which incorporates all necessary amendments to comply with current European specifications.

The Guide to Electronic Reporting in Inland Navigation explains the standard, the messaging procedures as well as classifications and code lists, and describes how the standard is implemented in various European countries, listing contact persons for further details.

Once the Standard for Electronic Ship Reporting in Inland Navigation had been completed and come to be used in Rhine navigation, the CCNR introduced with Resolution 2007-II-20 54 KB 19 KB 54 KB mandatory electronic reporting for certain vessels carrying containers. The electronic transmission of the messages specified in the Police Regulations for the Navigation of the Rhine is thereby required. The purpose of the requirement is to enhance safety in container transport on the Rhine and to improve processing of messages from vessels at the reporting points. When the resolution was adopted, the CCNR announced the intention of extending the requirement to include other vessels subsequently.

The CCNR had to postpone introduction of mandatory electronic reporting due to technical and organisational issues. The requirement was finally able to be enacted with Resolution 2009-I-17 89 KB 88 KB 89 KB , entering into force on 1 January 2010. Consequently, vessels carrying more than 20 containers or at least one container of hazardous cargo must transmit to the traffic centres (traffic posts) electronically any required messages as specified in Article 12.01 of the Police Regulations for the Navigation of the Rhine. This has made it possible to reduce the administrative work of skippers and staff at the sector traffic centres while ensuring a high level of safety for Rhine navigation. In the light of the advantages of electronic reporting that are evident now the system is fully operational, the CCNR has therefore decided to extend the obligation to all vessels and convoys transporting a container starting on 1 December 2015 151 KB 178 KB 148 KB .

In order to facilitate the transition to electronic reporting, the competent working groups of the CCNR have prepared an Information Document for the Shipping Industry and a list of the Sources of Information for Electronic Reporting.

By meeting the extraordinary challenges entailed in introducing electronic reporting, the CCNR has once again demonstrated its ability to complete, in close cooperation with the authorities of its member states and the shipping industry, projects that are complex both in technical terms and with regard to organisation, thus continuing to play a leading role in inland navigation in Europe. Through innovation the CCNR is promoting the development of a safe and efficient inland shipping industry aligned with contemporary needs.


Inland AIS

The CCNR and its member states are convinced of the need for systems that enable automatic exchange of navigational data between vessels and between ship and shore. These systems support automatic identification as well as tracking and tracing solutions in inland navigation. The vessel tracking function provides consistently up-to-date information on the status and position of a vessel as well as its characteristics, including specific details of the cargo if required. The vessel tracing function allows the position of a vessel to be determined. These systems help improve safety and support smooth management of vessel traffic.

For maritime navigation, the IMO has introduced the Automatic Identification System (AIS). As of the end of 2004, all seagoing vessels on international voyage falling under SOLAS convention Chapter V are equipped with AIS.

AIS is a cooperative procedure; all those wishing to use and participate in the system must be equipped with an AIS device. Vessels fitted with AIS transmit and receive information on an automatic and periodical basis to and from other vessels equipped with AIS. This information regards the vessel and its current navigation data:

  • identity of the vessel,
  • its exact position,
  • its course and speed,
  • additional vessel-specific data.

The data provided by AIS can be visualised in various ways. The most efficient way of going about this is to display the identity of the vessel and geo-referenced data such as its position and movements on a chart, and to display the static data in the form of alphanumerical tables.

AIS shore stations within VHF radio range can also receive the data and in turn broadcast navigation-related information to vessels.

AIS is an additional source of navigation-related information. AIS does not replace navigation-related services such as radar target tracking and VTS, but in fact supports them. The strength of AIS lies in the detection and tracking of those vessels fitted with the system. AIS and radar complement one another due to their different characteristics.

In order to meet the specific requirements of inland navigation, AIS has been extended by a standard referred to as Inland AIS, which nonetheless remains fully compatible with the maritime AIS Standard defined by the IMO as well as with already existing standards in inland navigation.

The CCNR adopted the Vessel Tracking and Tracing Standard for Inland Navigation with Resolution 2006-I-21 66 KB 31 KB 28 KB in May 2006. Chapter 1 of the document contains a functional description of tracking and tracing as used in inland navigation. Chapter 2 describes the Inland AIS Standard along with the possible messages occurring. On the basis of the competences entrusted to them, the Police Regulations Committee and the RIS Working Group of the CCNR defined the Vessel Tracking and Tracing Standard for Inland Navigation, Edition 1.01, and published it in October 2007.

The CCNR supplemented the standard with the addition of Operational and Performance Requirements, Methods of Test and Required Test Results for Inland AIS Shipborne Equipment (Test Standard for Inland AIS), Edition 1.0, adopting the document in May 2007 with Resolution 2007-I-15 32 KB 31 KB 30 KB .

Both of the standards required additions and corrections in time, so that the CCNR published in October 2008 Technical Clarifications on Vessel Tracking and Tracing Standard for Inland Navigation, Edition 1.01 and Test Standard for Inland AIS, Edition 1.0. On the basis of these clarifications, the Test Standard for Inland AIS, Edition 1.0.1, was subsequently published.

The Test Standard is based on the standard for maritime Class A equipment, the Norm IEC 61993-2. In 2012, this norm was revised, which made a general revision of the Inland AIS Test Standard necessary, leading to its Edition 2.0. With this revision, significant ambiguities in the previous Test Standard have been eliminated and the Standard was expanded to include several new functionalities of the maritime AIS. The additional functions of the Inland AIS remain unchanged, whereas a few clarifications to the message “persons on board” and the input of “length and beam of convoys” were incorporated into the Inland AIS Test Standard. The Test Standard has been restructured and now refers only to the extension of the Inland AIS functionality based on standard IEC 61993-2, Edition 2.

On 16 October 2012, the CCNR’s Police Regulations Committee has adopted the Edition 2.0 of the Standard. At the same time, the Committee has decided that the Test Standard enters into force with the publication of the revised standard IEC 61993-2, Edition 2. The publication took place on 19 October. From this date on the type approval procedures for Inland AIS equipment provided for in Paragraph 7.06 (3) of the Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations must be performed on the basis of Edition 2.0 of the Test Standard. Inland AIS equipment with a type approval according to Edition 1.0 and 1.01 of the Test Standard may be installed on vessels until 30 November 2015 and continue to be used after that date.

The Vessel Tracking and Tracing Standard for Inland Navigation adopted by the CCNR has been incorporated into the European Commission’s legal framework (Regulation (EC) No 415/2007 of 13 March 2007 1409 KB 1407 KB 1378 KB 1364 KB ). The Standard was modified by Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 689/2012 of 27 July 2012 796 KB 793 KB 794 KB 792 KB . Following the publication of this regulation, the Police Regulations Committee and the CCNR RIS Working Group, on the basis of joint competence, elaborated and published the Vessel Tracking and Tracing Standard for Inland Navigation, edition 1.2, which was adopted by the Police Regulations Committee in April 2013. In addition to bringing the text in line with European regulations, the references to certain standards and recommendations have been updated.

The use of AIS in Rhine navigation is specified in article 4.07 of the Police Regulations for the Navigation of the Rhine. Pursuant to article 7.06(3) as well as annex N part I of the Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations, inland AIS equipment must additionally be approved by a competent authority and installed by an approved specialised firm. Annex N part II includes a sample of the certificate, required to be issued by the specialised firm after installation, attesting to the installation and functioning of Inland AIS equipment.

In order to function reliably, inland AIS equipment must be installed and set up by specialised technicians. For this reason, the CCNR requires installation to be done by a specialised firm, which subsequently certifies the installation. As an aid to installation, the CCNR has published Guidelines on the Installation of the Inland Automatic Identification System (Inland AIS). The document is meant as a guide for approved firms that install Inland AIS equipment on board of inland vessels. Its purpose is to guide the installation, configuration and testing of the equipment to ensure a correct setup. The document is meant to be used in addition to the installation instructions supplied by the manufacturer of the Inland AIS device.

Pursuant to Annexe N, Part III of the Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations (RVBR), the CCNR maintains lists of:

  • competent authorities for approval of Inland AIS equipment,
  • approved Inland AIS equipment,
  • Inland AIS equipment approved on the basis of equivalent type approvals,
  • approved specialised firms for the installation or replacement of Inland AIS equipment.

The Inland AIS Guide explains the standard, the functioning and use of Inland AIS, Inland AIS equipment and the transmitted data, and describes how the standard is implemented in various European countries, listing contact persons for further details.

Traffic authorities in Germany and the Netherlands introduced subsidy programmes for inland navigation in 2009 to fund the purchase and installation of Inland AIS equipment. The shipping industry has taken advantage of these programmes and consequently equipped fleets with Inland AIS equipment at only limited expense for the industry. Once the subsidy programmes of other countries have also been completed, it is expected that the European inland fleet will to a large extent be equipped with Inland AIS. The CCNR correspondingly adopted Resolution 2010-I-9 25 KB 66 KB 25 KB in June 2010, declaring the Commission’s intention of introducing mandatory installation and use of Inland AIS equipment in Rhine navigation. in the near future. In declaring this intention, the CCNR has provided ship owners with a reliable basis for planning investment decisions to be taken in the future. After several years of work, the CCNR decided, at its session in the autumn of 2013 177 KB 173 KB 172 KB , to introduce an obligation to fit and use an Inland AIS device connected to an Inland ECDIS device in information mode (or a comparable device for displaying charts).

This decision was supplemented by three resolutions adopted in June 2014 149 KB 146 KB 148 KB . The obligation will take effect on 1 December 2014, and applies to all vessels, with some exceptions (including small craft which do not have an inspection certification in compliance with the Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations). These exceptions are listed in Article 4.07 (1) of the Police Regulations for the Navigation of the Rhine. The AIS device must be switched on at all times. It may be switched off in certain situations; these are listed in Article 4.07 (2) of the Police Regulations for the Navigation of the Rhine. The list of data to be transmitted by the AIS device is given in Article 4.07 (5) of the Police Regulations for the Navigation of the Rhine. The CCNR has drawn up an information document for skippers to make it easier to implement this decision 2036 KB 2044 KB 2042 KB 2042 KB .

Apart from ferries, vessels which must be fitted with an Inland AIS device must also be fitted with an Inland ECDIS device in information mode (or a comparable device for displaying charts), connected to the Inland AIS device. Skippers must use this in conjunction with an up-to-date electronic inland navigation chart.


Notices to skippers for inland navigation

Fairway Information Services (FIS) contain geographical, hydrological and administrative data that are used by skippers and fleet managers to plan, execute and monitor a trip. FIS provide dynamic information (e.g. water levels, water level predictions etc.) as well as static information (e.g. regular operating hours of locks and bridges) regarding the use and status of the inland waterway infrastructure, and thereby support tactical and strategic navigation decisions.

Traditionally, FIS supply visual aids to navigation, notices to skippers on paper, by land-line telephone, or broadcast at locks. The mobile phone using GSM has added new possibilities of voice and data communication, but GSM is not available in all places and at all times. Tailor-made FIS for the waterways can be supplied by radiotelephone services on inland waterways, Internet services or electronic navigational charts service (e.g. Inland ECDIS with ENC).

The aims of the standardisation of notices to skippers are to:

  • provide automatic translation of the most important contents of notices into all the languages of the participating countries,
  • provide a standardised structure of data sets in all the participating countries in order to facilitate the integration of notices in voyage-planning systems,
  • provide a standard for water level information,
  • be compatible with the data structure of Inland ECDIS in order to facilitate the integration of notices to skippers in Inland ECDIS,
  • facilitate data exchange between different countries,
  • ensure the use of standard vocabulary in combination with code lists.

It will not be possible to standardise all the information contained in notices to skippers. Part of the information will be supplied in the form of "free text" with no automatic translation.

The Standard for Notices to Skippers for Inland Navigation contains instructions for transmitting fairway information data via the Internet.

The CCNR adopted the Standard for Notices to Skippers for Inland Navigation in May 2004 with Resolution 2004-I-17 27 KB 26 KB 26 KB .

The standard has been incorporated into the European Commission’s legal framework (Regulation (EU) No 416/2007 of 13 March 2007).

The CCNR’s Police Regulations Committee and RIS Working Group adopted Edition 1.1 of the Standard in April 2006, Edition 1.2 in September 2006, Edition 1.2.1 in September 2007, Edition 2.0 in October 2008 and, most recently, Edition 3.0 in October 2009. Edition 3.0 is not yet in use, but will be as soon as the European Commission uses this Edition.

Authorities providing notices to skippers for international inland navigation are required to apply these Standards. Vessel operators may view notices to inland navigation skippers on the Internet sites of these authorities, and subscribe to them on-line.

The Notices to Skippers Guide explains the standard, the distribution paths as well as the contents of notices to skippers for inland navigation, and describes how the standard is implemented in various European countries, listing contact persons for further details.