In 1998, the concept of River Information Services (RIS) was developed and detailed in EU research projects like INDRIS1INDRIS was a research project on the development of River Information Services in the 4th Framework Programme of DG Energy and Transport of the European Commission (EC). and COMPRIS2COMPRIS was a research project in the 5th Framework Program of DG Energy and Transport of the EC.. The potential of RIS to improve the position of inland navigation within the transport chain has also been recognised by international organisations including the UNECE, River Commissions such as the Rhine, Danube and Sava Commissions, and the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (PIANC). PIANC established a Working Group in 2002 that developed the ‘Guidelines for River Information Services’, which are an important pillar in the implementation of River Information Services. In 2004, the first revision of these Guidelines was drafted and published; another update followed in 2011.
In 2003, with the support of several European Member States, the European Commission took the initiative to develop a Directive on River Information Services, which came into force in 2005. The PIANC Guidelines, revision 2004, are one of the basic regulations3Commission Regulation (EC) No 414/2007 of 13 March 2007. of this Directive4Directive 2005/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on harmonised River Information Services on inland waterways in the Community.
“River Information Services (RIS) means the harmonised information services to support traffic and transport management in inland navigation, including, wherever technically feasible, interfaces with other transport modes.”
The definitions will be of importance in the planning, implementation/realisation, management and maintenance of RIS systems. They also give a clear picture of the roles and responsibilities of the various parties, players and stakeholders involved.
When Working Group 125 began the work on updating the RIS Guidelines, many stakeholders expressed the need to compile all relevant definitions in one document. To that end, many sources and experts were consulted and soon it became apparent that for several terms there were several differing definitions. In cases where there were several definitions for a particular term, WG 125 made a selection of a primary definition based on their knowledge and experience. In this report redundant and obsolete definitions were not deleted but are included in ‘Chapter 17: Annex-1 – Redundant and Obsolete Definitions’.5
The added value of River Information Services has found recognition throughout the world. Standardisation, such as Inland ECDIS, Inland AIS, Electronic Reporting and Notices to Skippers, has become mature and several standards have found a formal basis in Europe.
Since the implementation of RIS in Europe, Expert Groups have played a major role in the development of standards. The European RIS Expert Groups provide international technical platforms ensuring the harmonised development and maintenance of RIS standards. The European RIS Expert Groups act as advisory bodies of institutions including the European Commission, the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine (CCNR), the Danube Commission (DC), and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on RIS standardisation processes.
The first standards for the RIS technical services Inland ECDIS, Notices to Skippers (NtS), Vessel Tracking and Tracing (VTT), and Electronic Reporting International (ERI) were formally accepted by the CCNR. A major contribution to the standardisation process has been the RIS Framework Directive of the European Commission, which entered into force in October 2005. This Directive contains binding rules for the authorities on the implementation of RIS operational and technical services according to agreed standards. According to the RIS Directive the Member states have to implement RIS according to the defined RIS standards.
In 2019, an update of the PIANC RIS Guidelines was undertaken and revision of the RIS-related definitions is necessary due to the following reasons:
An essential change in relation to the e-Navigation developments in the maritime domain is the alignment between RIS and e-Navigation, and consequently as a first step the use of the same terminology. For this reason, in the PIANC RIS Guidelines 2019 – Edition 4, the term ‘RIS Key Technologies’ is replaced by ‘Technical Services’ and ‘Services’ are changed into ‘Operational Services’ to be in line with the terms used in the domain of e-Navigation.
With the development and implementation of RIS the need arose for RIS Definitions. Important sources for the RIS-related definitions are the different European RIS Expert Groups responsible for the development of the different standards of the RIS technical services. Also, several RIS research and implementation projects contributed as sources for RIS-related definitions.
In addition, this guide includes several definitions used in the RIS domain that have their basis in international organisations, such as IMO, IHO, ITU, IALA, UN/ECE, CCNR.
The definitions brought together in this document cover the whole field of RIS and related services and concepts, such as VTS and e-Navigation. Therefore, RIS definitions are not limited to river systems or regional (traffic) regulations worldwide, but there is a relationship with the maritime area.
PIANC and the CCNR have agreed that the CCNR will include in its website the publication and maintenance of the PIANC RIS definitions. The CCNR website will provide a link to the EU RIS portal and to the PIANC website, where the Guidelines and Recommendations for River Information Services can be found.