The Inland ENC Harmonization Group (IEHG) was formed in 2003 by North America and Europe to facilitate the development of international standards for Inland ENC data. Russia has joined the IEHG soon after that and Brazil in 2007, China in 2009, South Korea in 2010, Venezuela and Peru in 2011. The IEHG is comprised of representatives from government, industry and academia. European participants take part on behalf of the Temporary Working Group Inland ECDIS of the European Committee for drawing up standards in the field of inland navigation (CESNI), the former European Inland ECDIS Expert Group. The North American participants are members of the North American Inland ENC Ad Hoc working group that was formed in 2002. The IEHG meets normally once per year. However, most of the work is accomplished via e-mail correspondence. There is a discussion forum based on share-point: https://partners.usace.army.mil/sites/LRL/IHG/default.aspx).
Each new discussion has to be assigned to one of three topics: general discussions on Inland ENCs, formal Change Requests or discussions on the development of the future S-100 based version of the standard. Every new contribution is distributed by e-mail to all registered users. The e-mail contains a link to the contribution on the discussion forum, where attached files can be downloaded and where comments can be submitted.
The goal of the IEHG is to agree upon specifications for Inland ENCs that are suitable for all known inland ENC data requirements for safe and efficient navigation for European, North and South American, Asian and Russian Federation inland waterways. However, it is intended that this standard meet the basic needs for Inland ENC applications, worldwide. As such, the Inland ENC standard is flexible enough to accommodate additional inland waterway requirements in other regions of the world. IEHG is recognized as a Non-Governmental International Organization (NGIO) by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).
Based on the findings of the European transport R&D project INDRIS (Inland Navigation Demonstrator for River Information Services) and the German project ARGO in 2001, both the Danube and the Rhine Commissions adopted an Inland Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) standard for Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC) data and system requirements for the Rhine and the Danube Rivers. In 2001, the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UNECE) adopted the Inland ECDIS Standard as a recommendation for the European inland waterway system, the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine (CCNR) in 2002.
In the USA, following a 1999 recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) initiated a program to facilitate the production and implementation of Inland ENCs on major river and inland waterway systems in the United States.
While there are some differences between the North American and European inland waterways, there are far more similarities. A North American - European Inland ENC Workshop was held in 2003 in conjunction with a Conference on River Information Services (RIS) organized by the European R&D-project COMPRIS (Consortium Operational Management Platform River Information Services). In addition to informing participants on the status of standards development and projects being conducted, a key objective was to discuss the benefits of harmonizing Inland ENC data standards between Europe and North America.
The North American - European Inland ENC Harmonization Group (IEHG) was formed in 2003 to facilitate the development of international standards for Inland ENC data. The IEHG is comprised of representatives from government, industry and academia. European participants take part on behalf of the European Inland ECDIS Expert Group, which is replaced by the temporary working group CESNI/TI/Inland ECDIS in 2020. The North American participants are members of the North American Inland ENC Ad Hoc working group that was formed in 2002. The IEHG meets once per year. However, most of the work is accomplished via e-mail correspondence, this website and the Inland ENC discussion forum.
The goal of the IEHG is to agree upon specifications for Inland ENCs that are suitable for all known inland ENC data requirements for safe and efficient navigation for European and North American inland waterways. However, it is intended that this standard meets the basic needs for Inland ENC applications, worldwide. As such, the Inland ENC standard is flexible enough to accommodate additional inland waterway requirements in other regions of the world.
In September 2005, the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation became a member of the IEHG. In 2007, Brazil through its national Hydrographic Service, the Directorate of Hydrography and Navigation (DHN), joined the IEHG as the first South American country. In October 2009, the Waterborne Transportation Institute of the Ministry of Transport, Peoples Republic of China became the first member of the IEHG from the Asian region.
IEHG also works closely with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). At the ECDIS stakeholders’ forum in 2007, IHO confirmed that compatibility with Inland ENC standards is allowed by the standards that are certified for maritime ECDIS applications. On 14 April 2009, IEHG became recognized as a Non-Governmental International Organization (NGIO) of IHO. In addition, at the 4th Extraordinary International Hydrographic Conference on 4 June 2009, IHO adopted a resolution to cooperate with the IEHG.
As an NGIO, IEHG supports, advises and provides input to IHO regarding Inland ENC matters.
Definition of IENC (Inland Electronic Navigational Chart)
Inland Electronic Navigational Chart (IENC) means: the database, standardized as to content, structure and format, for use with inland electronic chart display and / or information systems operated onboard of vessels transiting inland waterways. An IENC is issued by or on the authority of a competent government agency, and conforms to standards [initially] developed by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and [refined by] the Inland ENC Harmonization Group. An IENC contains all the chart information necessary for safe navigation on inland waterways and may contain supplementary information in addition to that contained in the paper chart (e.g. sailing directions, machine-readable operating schedules, etc.) which may be considered necessary for safe navigation and voyage planning.
The IENC Encoding Guide provides detailed guidance on what is required to produce a consistent, uniform Inland ENC.
For all object classes, attributes, and attribute values that are used in conjunction with an IENC, the IENC Encoding Guide:
Provides a basis for its creation
Describes its relationship to the real-world entity
Provides criteria for its proper use
Gives specific encoding examples
Provides real-world and graphic examples of IENC information (portrayal)
Minimum Contents of an IENC
At a Minimum, the following objects shall be included in an IENC, if they exist:
Bank of waterway
Shoreline construction (e.g., groin, training wall)
Any facility that is considered a hazard to navigation
Contours of locks and dams (i.e., footprint area)
Boundaries of the navigation channel (if defined)
Isolated dangers in the navigation channel that are either:
under water (obstructions)
above water level (e.g., bridges, overhead cables)
Official Aids-to-Navigation (e.g. buoys, beacons, lights, notice marks)
Waterway axis with kilometres/hectometres
In addition to these minimum requirements, the Encoding Guide contains recommended objects, attributes and attribute values that are suitable for any Inland ENC application, worldwide. Each country or region can decide which of these recommended objects, attributes and attribute values are necessary to meet their requirements. For example, in Europe and the USA, there are different requirements for River Information Services (RIS).