What's RIS ?

RIS stands for River Information Services. It comprises a package of various services designed to optimise the traffic and transport process. This includes improving safety and increasing efficiency. RIS streamlines the exchange of information between waterway operators and users. A uniform communication standard has been developed for this purpose in order to align traffic management on European inland waterways more efficiently. RIS also enables better transport management, by exchanging transport and logistics data. In this way, RIS strengthens the competitive position of inland navigation.


RIS is important for European inland navigation as a whole. With RIS, water-borne transport can make the most of the latest logistics developments so as to create a reliable and predictable offer. The further development of inland navigation thanks to the implementation of RIS is particularly important with a view to the expansion of European inland shipping corridors. The enlargement of the EU to include Central and Eastern European countries is bringing a huge increase in goods transport. Inland navigation therefore needs to be modernised, so as to make transport via inland waterways more attractive and optimise cooperation with road transport.

There is a growing need for information exchanges between stakeholders in inland navigation. The exchange of traffic-related information benefits all parties when it comes to safety. As does that of transport-related information, which focuses mainly on efficiency.

Over the past few decades a significant number of services and systems have been developed for shipping traffic and transport management. The inland navigation sector now faces the challenge of integrating these building blocks to create a common architecture that offers sufficient consistency and synergy across applications.

Comprehensive and international guidelines for River Information Services (RIS guidelines 2002) are needed in order to harmonise the existing standards for particular river information systems and services within a common framework.

River Information Services work on the basis of various information levels. While Fairway Information or FI, only contains data on the fairway, Tactical or Strategic Traffic Information (Traffic Information or TI) also includes information about vessels movements in the RIS area. Traffic information is provided on the basis of traffic images.


Watch the information film on RIS


There are three information levels:

1. Fairway Information (FI)

Fairway information (FI) comprises geographical, hydrological and administrative information regarding the waterways (fairways) in the RIS area, which RIS users need in order to plan, undertake and monitor a voyage. Fairway information is one-way information: shore to ship or shore to office (users’ office).

2. Tactical Traffic Information (TTI)

Tactical Traffic Information (TTI) is the information affecting immediate decisions taken by the skipper or the VTS operator with respect to navigation in the actual traffic situation and the immediate geographic surroundings. A tactical traffic image contains position information and specific vessel information about all targets detected by radar and displayed on an electronic navigation map (Annex 1). If available, this information is enhanced by external traffic information such as the information delivered by an AIS (Annex 2). TTI may be provided on board a vessel or on shore in a VTS centre.

3. Strategic traffic information (STI)

Strategic traffic information (STI) is the information affecting the medium- and long-term decisions of RIS users. A strategic traffic image contributes towards the planning decision capabilities regarding a safe and efficient voyage. A strategic traffic image is produced in an RIS centre and delivered to the users on demand. A strategic traffic image contains all the relevant vessels in the RIS area with their characteristics, cargoes and positions. These are reported via spoken VHF announcements or electronic vessel announcements stored in a database and presented in a table or on an electronic map. Strategic traffic information may be provided on shore by an RIS/VTS centre or an office.


  • The European Commission (EC) issues a folder in English provides more details about what River Information Services comprise and the advantages they offer.
    Download pdf
  • Download directives and recommendations for River Information Services (PIANC: RIS guidelines 2002).
    Download pdf


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