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The DG-Trac project addresses the tracking and tracing of dangerous goods in the medical sector integrating and using existing space technologies (navigational services, communication services) with GSM/UMTS and Internet.

The main issue with the dangerous goods transports in the medical sector is that they are often not carried out according to the legal requirements. DG-Trac allows the tracking and tracing of these goods and introduces a centralised mechanism for the management and (controlled) distribution of information concerning each transport.

Thanks to the European eCall, in case of an accident, the emergency service will automatically be alerted and informed about the involved dangerous goods and how to handle them.

Objectives of the service

The main objectives of the DG-Trac feasibility study were:

  • To identify the stakeholders and user needs based on real user scenarios.
  • To involve users from the medical and pharmaceutical sector as well as emergency services in the study.
  • To design a system and service architecture based on the user needs and requirements and the results of a state of the art analysis taking into account the added value of the use of Satellite Navigation and Satellite Communication services connecting the senders of the dangerous goods, the transporters and the relevant blue forces.
  • To evaluate as part of the viability study the economic and non-economic viability aspects of the proposed service(s) and the related system design.
  • To show with a proof of concept the principle implementation of such a service and demonstrate the technical feasibility.
  • To define a roadmap based on the results of the viability analysis and the proof of concept, how a sustainable service for the tracking and tracing of dangerous medical goods can be established.


Users and their needs

Target users of the DG - Trac service are:

  • Hospitals, Laboratories
    Due to the centralisation in the medical sector more and more hospitals send their samples and used surgical instruments to central laboratories or central sterilisation services.
  • Pharmaceutical industry
    The pharmaceutical industry is sending every day thousands of dangerous substances and samples to medical users.
  • Logistics Industry
    Logistic companies have to handle the dangerous medical goods according to the legal regulations.
  • Public safety service(police, fire brigade and civil protection)
    In case of an emergency and accident, public safety services need immediate information about the accident, the type of dangerous good and handling instructions to reduce the time needed, secure their lives and save the environment.

The main hospital-user needs derived from this scenario are:

  • Need to ensure that all rules for dangerous goods transports are followed by the driver and the receiver of the transport.
  • Need to report every step of the transport and to check if the driver of the transport and the receiver have been trained and have the correct certificates.
  • Need to track every container containing surgical instruments.
  • Need to track every blood sample on its way to the laboratory.
  • Need to have a real-time tracking of the transport and to know if the transport is still en route or already arrived at the receiver.

For the emergency services: in case of an accident they need to receive information about the dangerous goods loaded into the vehicle.

Service/ system concept

The proposed DG-Trac system will offer a service to the end-users (all actors in the dangerous goods transportation chain). The service will help customers dealing with dangerous goods transport in the medical sector as well as public safety services, to ensure that the transports are conform to the legal rules for dangerous goods transports.

The DG-Trac will be based on following services:

  • Transport Service providing the management functionalities.
  • Authentication Service to ensure that all persons involved in the transport process have the required, valid legal certification.
  • Real-time tracking service providing the location of a transport at any time. As an additional service it can provide sensor information during the transport e.g. temperature control.
  • Reporting Service generating reports about all transports.
  • Alerting of public safety services, when the dangerous goods transport is involved in an accident.

Space Added Value

The DG-Trac system will integrate two different space assets in running the complete service:

  • A satellite navigation service, relying on Global Navigation Systems (GNSS). The navigation service will allow the transport vehicle to receive its current geographical position continuously, and forward it to the system. This will allow real-time tracking and tracing services.
  • A satellite Bi-directional communication service. The service will allow suitably equipped emergency services to receive information about dangerous goods and any eventual alerts that are raised (in case of an incident) in near real-time.

Product Features

Tracking and tracing of transports already exist in many varied forms throughout Europe and it is recognised that dangerous goods transports are special cases. Several projects are already dealing with this topic.

However the medical sector of dangerous goods transports has shown itself to be very different from what has been traditionally classified as dangerous goods transport until now. It has very specialised requirements for its handling throughout the entire transport cycle. Within medical goods the transport of even very small quantities (millilitres) of a dangerous substance can be very dangerous (i.e. samples with infectious material, blood with viruses or EHEC bacteria).

The challenge and risk lies in being able to track these very small quantities of goods efficiently and to ensure that all transports are carried out according to the legal rules. Sensors may be integrated to track the environmental conditions of the containers (i.e. temperature, humidity).

The DG-Trac service tracks the location of every dangerous good transported; guides the users through the processes with an easy to use application; and records every step of the process. In the case of an incident, the emergency services can use this service to check if a transport being involved in the incident contains dangerous goods. It is intended to integrate the DG-Trac service with the upcoming European eCall system, which will alert the public safety service automatically in case of an accident. In this case the DG-Trac service will provide the information about the loaded dangerous goods to the public safety services automatically.

DG-Trac System Architecture

Key Issues

The key issue with the dangerous goods transports in the medical sector is that they are often not carried out according to the legal requirements. In the area of medical goods transport even very small quantities (millilitres) of a dangerous good can be very dangerous (i.e. samples with infectious blood containing viruses or EHEC bacteria).

Another key issue is that civil authorities have no overview or situational knowledge of particular dangerous goods transport. In case of an alert and/or emergency, civil security authorities do not know the nature and characteristics of the transported goods and therefore are unable to take risk-reducing or preventive measures.


The DG-Trac service ensures the correct execution of dangerous goods transports in the medical sector.

The service provides complete documentation of all the steps executed during the transport and ensures that all necessary checks (e.g. for the certification) have been done. The transport will be tracked in real-time. This will allow the Sender or Receiver to determine the location of all transports at any time.

In addition, the alerting of public safety service (112 centres) in case of an accident is possible, including the provision of the relevant information.

Current Status

The project team has successfully finalised the project. In a proof of concept the technical feasibility was demonstrated.
DG-TRAC activities have been continued into the DG-TRAC Demonstration Project.

Status Date

Updated: 11 June 2015 - Created: 15 February 2014