Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Communications infrastructure for inland navigation in Europe

The project involved improving the existing infrastructure along the Rhine-Main-Danube Waterway by entirely replacing, where possible, the current services using, for example, the Inmarsat satellite communication network, in addition to the development of structured information messages between commercial shipping parties and between non-commercial shipping parties like navigation authorities dealing with the protection of the environment and safety of shipping.

The project looked at the developments of communications in general, but has, in particular, approached the use of the latest communication systems in relation to waterborne transport, by considering two, strictly separated, main groups of interest in inland navigation. Each group has to be served by an adequate communication network, as one group is dedicated to the legal communication requirements of 'traffic management' (TM) by the State with regard to emergency, safety and environmental aspects; the other group being related to commercial communication within 'cargo management' (CM) by private users with a completely different and commercial character. Linking both networks is an option if, for example, cargo messages with commercially sensitive contents frequently have to obtain approval of the State or have to be reported to Customs. Each of the riparian countries has implemented a patchy, non-transparent, State owned and controlled internal communication framework. The explosive growth of GSM use can be attributed to the previous lack of a public communication infrastructure. This means of communication is of immense importance to the commercial part of the shipping industry, as long as it is seen as an addition to written communication and voice communication. However an important role for satellite communications over long distances shall have to be reserved for emergency situations and for transmitting 'classified' data. The promotion of waterborne transport, requires harmonized TM-systems, internationally defined communication means, specifications and procedures, as well as accepted rules and regulations.

Reported by

Maritime Systems Technology BV
3002 AN Rotterdam