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Information and Communication Technology for the UK’s inland waterways

Published 2008

1.0 Introduction

1.1 The development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is rapid, varied and of significant importance to businesses. However the cost of development, installation and maintenance along with a low degree of perceived robustness has not overly encouraged the use of operational ICT within the UK’s inland navigations.

1.2 The ability to monitor and record data using intelligent ICT equipment has now been used by many industries with a high degree of reliability and benefit being gained.

1.3 With real costs reducing and considerable experience being gained, it is appropriate for IWAC to look at what can be achieved with off-the-shelf equipment to determine operational and business benefits and to develop common ideas for the future. The sensible use of ICT will enable users to further enjoy the benefits of the UK’s inland waterways and aid navigation authorities in improving service delivery and reducing costs.

1.4 With Climate Change and the impact of the Water Framework Directive, the ability to manage scarce water resources in an efficient manner is essential. The use of ICT will assist in this process and will build on the existing ability to forecast flooding and aid the decision making processes for flood risk and drought management.

1.5 Within the navigation authorities the first wave of ICT investment is now either coming to the end of its working life, is out of date or no longer supported, and thus it is appropriate to share and develop common ideas to provide a cost effective and seamless system for the benefit of users and managers.

1.6 This report reviews existing practice within the navigation authorities, identifies lessons learned, highlights benefits that can be shared and makes recommendations for future uses of ICT.

1.7 The recommendations made throughout the report are presented as a summary in the following chapter

2.0 Summary of Recommendations (references to paragraphs as shown)

 A single WiFi supplier should be appointed by the UK’s inland navigation authorities to provide services at hotspots and some designated locations across the whole network (5.8)
 All navigation authority websites to be developed to a mobile web format (6.3.7)
 All navigation authority information to be available in a downloaded format (Word or PDF) (6.3.7)
 Navigation authorities to consider creating CDs of waterway maps (6.3.7)
 Navigation authorities or others to create pod and video casts to aid communication, training and safety (6.3.7)
 Hire-boat operators to provide equipment for video-casts, DVDs etc onboard hire boats (6.3.7)
 Navigation authorities to integrate the exchange of information via their websites (6.3.7)
 Registration of mobile phones by users, hire-boat operators, hotel boats, freight carriers for text messages or RSS feeds for unscheduled closures, restrictions, Strong Stream and flood warnings (6.3.7)
 Greater and more coordinated use of existing branded websites such as Visit Thames and should be made by all the UK’s navigation authorities (6.3.7)
 Navigation authorities to research as part of customer surveys’ future ICT demands (6.3.7)
 Consider the development of a UK wide Smart Card for access to, and to charge for, navigational services and facilities (6.4.10)
 The development of Smart Card trail, eg Great Glen Way (6.4.10)
 A bureau system for the SCADA control and monitoring of the UK inland network M&E equipment should be actively considered, or alternatively local SCADA systems (7.15)
 Pumping stations should be monitored in terms of power performance and smart control equipment installed to reduce energy consumption (7.15)
 An M&E working group to be set up to share best practice across the network (7.15)
 The future-proofing of all new build or repair of structures and buildings for the introduction of ICT (7.15)
 The further development and use of GIS and GPS by navigation authorities (8.3.6)
 The setting up of a working group to develop and maintain common GIS standards for navigational use (8.3.6)
 The ability to licence and re-licence all UK inland craft on line should be developed (8.4.10)
 The development of bar code standards for licence administration (8.4.10)
 An automatic link established between navigation authorities’ licensing systems and BSS database (8.4.10)
 The possible development of an online database for insurance documentation (8.4.10)
 The recording of CIN on all licence databases (8.4.10)
 The development of a payment card to assist with licence and mooring payments (8.4.10)
 The development of a Variable Message Board system to give advance warning of unscheduled closures, Strong Stream warnings and similar events based at strategic locations around the UK network (9.4.8)
 The development of an online river level information service (9.9.3)
 Greater collaboration between navigation authorities of operational ICT is necessary, ideally led by AINA together with a lead navigation authority or 2 to 3 of the large navigation authorities (10.9)