Digital Inland Waterway Area: Towards a Digital Inland Waterway Area and Digital Multimodal Nodes

TNO, after a study on the future digitalization of inland waterway transport, prepared a report to provide an architecture of possible Digital Inland Waterway Area (DINA).

The study led to the DINA expert group that was set up by the European Commission’s DG-MOVE.

Digitalization is fundamental for the future competitiveness of Inland Waterway Transport (IWT) as data is becoming an important economic asset. DINA is a concept to interconnect information between IWT’s stakeholders and with other transport modes.

They identified the objectives for each category actors. The lack of digitalization threatens the competitiveness of IWT.

Summarized, the main challenges are:

  1. Inefficient navigation and traffic management
  2. Inefficient integration of IWT in logistics processes
  3. High administrative burden for complying with legislation

There are several underlying problem drivers which hinder the development of new digital tools and solutions in the sector:

  • The fact that River Information Services were not developed with continuous and controlled data sharing in mind, which is a key requirement for many new digital solutions.
  • Legal and commercial bottlenecks for sharing data.
  • An IT-setup of barge operators which is not yet capable for continuous interaction with third parties.
  • The IWT sector being limited in size and fragmented, making it difficult to achieve economies of scale for new solutions.
  • The lack of an overall framework for electronic reporting covering different purposes, making it difficult to address the administrative burden.

The concept of DINA include framework, architecture and a roadmap (implementation strategy).

The DINA framework addresses the interdependences between solution, actors and their digital system identifying 4 integration: VERTICAL, HORIZONTAL, OPERATIONAL and ADMINISTRATIVE and how to implement them.

The DINA architecture is:

  • Extension of RIS with real time data: providing additional (real-time) data, making them more interoperable and making the more useable for barge operators using new on-board e-IWT tools and apps.
  • Data platform for barge operators: allowing them to control their own data and operations. This should allow barge operators to share data in a controlled way with other stakeholders such as public authorities (for reporting purposes), (inland) ports and terminals.
  • Integration with booking and transport management platforms of shippers and LSP: this should provide better visibility and a better integration of IWT in the full logistics chain covering multiple modalities.

The DINA roadmap shows that the implementation needs SHORT, MEDIUM and LONG-TERM building blocks and the costs associated.

The focus needs on standardization and shared innovation; covering the required design, costs through a shared public-private innovation programme might help.

You can find the report: Digital Inland Waterway Area: Towards a Digital Inland Waterway Area and Digital Multimodal Nodes in the section PUBLICATIONS


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Launch of IWT

Since the launch of IWT platform on 21/1/2019, during which DG Move’s Director General gave an inspiring speech, the IWT platform did not sit still. Indeed, we had regular meetings with the policymakers in DG-MOVE discussing social, environmental, technological and other matters. We actively participated in meetings organised by ALICE and WATERBORNE, driving further research and innovation. And we made clear to the European Commission that we want to be at the forefront in the Digital Transport and Logistics Forum (DTLF) ; a forum that aims to digitalise all B2B and B2A communication across the whole transportchain

At the same time we contributed (and still are) contributing to the organisation of the upcoming event under the Finnish Presidency to show innovation in our sector in the Port of Brussel on October 16 and are working on a joint IWT & ports sector narrative that soon will be published. Both initiatives are aiming at convincing the “newcomers” in the Commission and Parliament about the potential Inland Waterway shipping has. Outside “Brussels”, IWT took the stage on many different occasions and left those stages with a positive feedback in our backpockets..

That, and much more, happened since IWT’s launch, but although not fully operational before that time, a lot was done already during 2018. What was done, how it was done and by whom and what we aim for in 2019 and beyond can be read in this report.

Last but not least we created this website. Though it is still work in progress, it is time  “ go live “ . When surfing you will be able to discover IWT’s origin and structure, its objectives, its team and a lot more. It’s the ambition to report through the website about the work done by the respective Committees and to inform relevant stakeholders about what IWT considers as important matters