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How should the government incorporate new technologies and organise their operations towards optimal traffic management?

Internal organisation & system use:

In order to fully embrace disruptive innovation, these changes need to be reflected in the way of working of an organisation. In other words; how can new technologies be used to improve or take over tasks performed manually today? This is necessary to enable the full potential of adopted innovative solutions.

For instance, if you have a planning system where certain elements need to be manually updated, you can decrease human workload and human error by letting the system propose standard plans, based on past decisions. Hence, creating a smart system.

  • Which effect will this shift from human to machine have on the relevance and fulfilment of the human role?
  • How will cooperation, as we know this today, be impacted?

If we deep dive into the operations of the waterway authorities, there will be forecasting on the long term at the level of the whole network, but there will also be scheduling and sequencing in a shorter timeframe and within a lower level of the network (corridors). Hereafter, the planning will need to be executed, hence operating the bridges and locks, communicating with barges, etc.  More detailed questions that can be posed around organising this operation are;

  • Can there be a different level of human intervention within these different tasks?
  • Can different roles take up these various responsibilities?
Operations for the future

Connection with external parties:

Next to creating the most efficient working environment and effective way of using capacity, we want to improve the experience of our external stakeholders, especially our customers. Here, this means the users of the inland waterways.

How can the government gather all relevant information in a safe way without bothering the sector with certain questions repeatedly? In other words; how can the information flow and access to information be improved? For instance, a practical question that can be posed considering law enforcement; how can De Vlaamse Waterweg ensure up-to-date information to improve the safety on the inland waterways?  

Field of play:

These questions situate themselves in a complex environment. Within the network of the inland waterways various types of users are operating; automated and conventional barges both for professional use and pleasure, subs, canoe, etc. Only the professional users are obligated to make use of AIS data. How can data considering location be known for the other groups? On the other hand, waterway users are not known for being early adopters when it comes to new technologies. There will be a need for different types of measures to support buy-in and stimulate sensibilisation. Here, new ways of job satisfaction will need to be stressed.