traffic incidents
2021/03/31

How iSHARE and DEFlog help Rijkswaterstaat to save time and reduce safety risks

Thanks to having access to more data about trucks and their loads, Rijkswaterstaat (part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management) is able to minimise the impact of road traffic incidents. From now on, Rijkswaterstaat can directly accesses that data – with the truck owner’s permission – on the DEFlog data hub. This is facilitated by a smart combination of technology and iSHARE authorisations.

If a truck is involved in a road traffic incident in the Netherlands, a highway inspector from Rijkswaterstaat is often responsible for ensuring the initial safety at the scene. “But if the truck is carrying a hazardous load, the inspector shouldn’t really get too close unless absolutely necessary,” says Huib de Jong, traffic management consultant.

When a truck breaks down or is involved any other kind of incident, Rijkswaterstaat’s aim is to get the traffic moving again as quickly as possible. It helps if the highway inspector and the emergency services know as much as possible about the truck. What has happened exactly? What is the truck carrying? And what risks does that pose?

Rijkswaterstaat was looking for a way to obtain the answers to these and other questions before a highway inspector arrives on the scene. As a traffic management consultant, De Jong was involved in that search in collaboration with traffic control centres and highway inspectors. “We wanted to resolve traffic incidents faster and more safely by using data that is already available.”

Sharing data using DEFlog and iSHARE

Rijkswaterstaat has found the solution in partnership with DEFlog, a public-private infrastructure for sharing data between governments and transport & logistics companies. DEFlog uses the Portbase Port Community System to conduct the data exchange. If an incident occurs involving a truck, Rijkswaterstaat issues a request for information (a ‘call’) to DEFlog based on the truck’s licence plate.

DEFlog then accesses the details of the truck’s cargo from the e-CMR partners and obtains information such as type of truck, load category and tyre size from TMS providers. As a result, DEFlog has a complete overview, both of the characteristics of the truck itself and what it is carrying.

iSHARE plays a crucial role in this process. Rijkswaterstaat is allowed to access the existing data directly from DEFlog because the owner of the truck has given their explicit permission in an iSHARE authorisation registry. Thanks to such iSHARE authorisations, Rijkswaterstaat does not need to approach all the parties for the various types of data individually, so it saves a huge amount of time.

In the past: lost time and safety risks

Rijkswaterstaat’s traffic control centres can be notified of an incident involving a truck in various ways, such as by the police control room, by other road users or by Rijkswaterstaat’s own highway inspectors.

In the past, Rijkswaterstaat’s emergency services regularly had to hunt for information about the truck’s load, such as by asking the driver or, if he was incapacitated, by searching through the cabin and the documentation themselves. That wasted a lot of valuable time, delaying the reopening of the road and increasing the risk of secondary incidents.

Besides that, the lack of knowledge about the load increased the risk of the emergency responders getting too close to flammable, toxic or explosive cargo without the right protection. “Now, when the control centre is notified of an incident, we use the traffic cameras to see if we can read the licence plate, which enables us to access information from the available sources using DEFlog and iSHARE,” explains De Jong.

Sensitive information for incident-related use only

The data gathered by DEFlog comes from sources such as the truck’s fleet management system – which includes technical details about the vehicle – as well as the e-CMR. “That contains information about the load, which in turn influences how the emergency responders should act,” states De Jong.

“DEFlog merges all the data, filters out anything that isn’t relevant for the emergency response, and sends the correct information straight to the traffic control centre, which then informs the highway inspector and other emergency responders so they know what to expect.”

One advantage of DEFlog is that it uses the OpenTripModel as its standard language. Therefore, all ICT systems can access the data from DEFlog without needing a separate integration or conversion – and that saves time. The same holds true for iSHARE. Because the DEFlog system incorporates the iSHARE agreements relating to the use of the data, organisations do not need to keep making new agreements whenever they want to share data. Moreover, they are able to authorise one another at a very fine level of detail, meaning that data owners can be very specific about which data may or may not be shared.

De Jong: “Information about a truck’s cargo can be sensitive; you don’t want everyone to have access to it. DEFlog only releases load-related information in the case of incidents, and even then only to the traffic control centre and the emergency services. That’s very reassuring for carriers. We’re already noticing that carriers of hazardous cargo are particularly happy with this solution because it means they receive faster and better help in the case of an incident.”