SSMART - System for Safety in Multimodal Assisted Remotely Transports

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The SSMART project will provide solutions for monitoring and managing multimodal (road, rail, waterways) transports of dangerous goods. Integrating and using available space technologies (satellite navigation, satellite communications, earth observation) with terrestrial systems SSMART will improve safety, coordination, information exchange, and communication for both routine transport operations as well as for emergency situations. Both commercial users and public authorities are expected to benefit from SSMART. During routine operations it shall be possible to monitor relevant parameters of the cargo as well as to track the position of the transport. In case of an emergency, commercial users and authorities will be timely notified and provided with the information needed to handle the situation properly.

The main objectives of the SSMART feasibility study are:

  • To identify the stakeholder and user needs related to the transport of dangerous goods. Users in the commercial sector (infrastructure operators, logistic companies) as well as public authorities will be considered.
  • To design a system and service architecture compliant with the user requirements.
  • To identify critical elements of the architecture and to validate the feasibility of the critical elements through a proof-of-concept.
  • To carry out a cost/benefit analysis for the service and to identify the critical non-economic elements (like legal and regulatory frameworks to be respected).
  • To assess the technical feasibility and the commercial viability
  • To prepare a future demonstration mission with a strong involvement of the user community.

Users and their needs

  1. Areva. French multinational conglomerate of industries, its main activities are nuclear power generation and electricity transmission and distribution.
  2. EXMAR created in 1828, it offers ship transportation of oil and gas as well as studies, management and administrative activities for this industry.
  3. SNCB is the Belgian national railway operator. Its main activities are national / international transport of passengers, transport of merchandises as well as logistic services. 
  4. TDG MOND is a logistic and transportation company specialized in chemical products. MOND works principally in the Benelux region, Germany and North of France.

The monitoring and management of dangerous goods transports is a matter of great importance due to the potential damage it can cause to the population and the environment in case of an accident. Therefore a group of stakeholders, all convinced of the need of a highly reliable tracking and management services, tailored for dangerous goods transport has been assembled.

Service/ system concept

The SSMART stakeholder group expects a service and system able to track transports of dangerous goods. The system shall provide information on the type of cargo, the status of the transport (including environmental variables), as well as the position. Coordinated by a service centre, companies and authorities shall be quickly notified in case of an accident. Information on the cargo shall be available to provide a thorough understanding of the situation and to handle it properly. The system will allow simulations of the potential propagation of dangerous goods in case of an accident, for the authorities to protect or evacuate the potentially affected area.

Space Added Value

  • Navigation: By using GPS and augmentation systems such as EGNOS, the transports of dangerous goods will be tracked. One potential solution is re-routing of vehicles following safety considerations, e.g. to avoid traffic jams, road works or difficult weather conditions. In case of an accident, the exact position of the transport is vital to know.
  • Satellite communications: In case of poor or no coverage of cellular networks, a satellite network, presenting a highly reliable communication channel, will be used as a back up. Satellite communications will take place also in case of cellular network saturation which often occurs during a crisis / emergency situations. 
  • Earth Observation: Data from remote sensing satellites will be used for mapping applications and for disaster management

Product Features

Based on information gathered from stakeholders so far, the SSMART project is expected to prepare the following functionalities:

  • Monitoring of the status of the vehicle and the cargo, including variables such as vehicle position and cargo temperature, making use of on-board sensors, providing reliable and redundant data links with wide coverage.
  • Coordination of information exchange between commercial users and authorities involved in the transport of dangerous goods and in contingency management.
  • Use of earth observation data to provide models of dangerous goods dispersion and environmental impact estimations.
  • Service centre for routine tracking of dangerous goods as well as information provisioning for emergency handling.

SSMART expected functionalities will be especially tailored for tracking transports of dangerous goods and providing critical information to the organisations that respond to emergency situations in time. This means that a future system and service has to meet more stringent safety conditions than other existing commercial tracking systems. 

Thanks to SSMART, it will be possible to retrieve relevant information any time, thus reducing risks to the population (e.g. by avoiding carrying dangerous substances near schools or public places). It will be also possible to monitor the internal conditions of the transported material in order to reduce the risk for an accident.

In case of an emergency, SSMART will provide information to authorities on the accurate location of the disaster, detailed goods characteristics, and nature of the accident. With this information appropriate measures can be taken.

Key Issues

The main issues remarked by the stakeholders are: 

  • lack of real time data and comprehensive data about the cargo position and status, 
  • lack of a reliable fleet management system showing information relevant to the transportation of dangerous goods,
  • lack of timely notifications to commercial users and authorities about accidents or dangerous situations in which population is at risk,
  • difficulties to understand possible consequences of dissipation of dangerous products in the environment.

Current Status

The Final Review of the SSMART feasibility study took place on 30th November, 2011. Favourable results were obtained in economic, non economic, and technical terms.

The following step is the demonstration phase. A roadmap has been prepared detailing how the overall capabilities of the system will be implemented and tested under realistic operation conditions. The industrial consortium behind the demonstration phase will receive a world class leader in the nuclear  power generation and transport sector as a new member.

Positive results from the demonstration phase should lead to first a pre-exploitation phase and then to a full exploitation phase of SSMART.

Status Date

Updated: 30 November 2011 - Created: 15 February 2014