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Electronic T-shirt aims to improve truck driver safety

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Chiara Bersani.

Chiara Bersani.

Electronic T-shirt aims to improve truck driver safety

By James Brewer

Truckies are trying out the latest in wearable technology: a T-shirt. Experiments are being carried out in Italy to monitor the bodily behaviour of goods drivers by means of a smart (in the electronic as opposed to the fashion sense) shirt.

The special garment is equipped with two kinds of sensors fully integrated into the fabric. One sensor tracks breathing (a strain gauge) and two piezoelectric sensors collect electrocardiography (ECG) data. The word piezoelectric , from the Greek words for pressure and electricity, refers to the generation of AC voltage by stress.

Chiara Bersani, of the Department of Computer Science, Bioengineering, Robotics and System Engineering (Dibris) University of Genoa, explained the concept in a presentation to the International Union of Marine Insurance. She said the intention is to identify abnormalities that could increase the risk of accidents.

One of IUMI’s sessions in Genoa.

One of IUMI’s sessions in Genoa.

She described the project during the loss prevention session of the IUMI 2016 conference in the Italian city. It comes under the heading of “enhancing safety of transport by road by online monitoring of driver emotions.”

Dr Bersani said that the wearable system could be useful in road, rail and maritime settings.  The physiological data acquired could be used to alert the driver by mobile phone of any problems.

A device known as a SEW3 for the acquisition, pre-processing, storage, and transmission of data is inserted into the pocket of the garment.

Dr Bersani reviewed developments in her talk entitled “Big Data, Smart Analytics, the Future Now” in what is known as the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) and risk applications to the transport of dangerous goods.

She said that Delab, a joint laboratory between her department at Genoa University, and ENI, the large Italian oil company, focuses on integrating intelligent systems into dangerous goods transport in order to prevent accidents to people or infrastructure and damage to the environment.

The main product is a big data analytics and optimisation platform for the transport and logistics industries.

New technologies could enable the use of big data in the carriage of freight, particularly dangerous goods, to provide safer, cleaner and more efficient transport systems, said the Genoa University expert.

The proposed platform had already been integrated into the information and communications technology (ICT) systems of ENI, enabling the capture of vast amounts of data and the use of analytics for generating decision-support information.

David Taylor, IUMI loss prevention chairman.

David Taylor, IUMI loss prevention chairman.

Big data was already being used for example to improve road traffic management and the planning of public transit services.

Since 2002 a transmission system known as TIP between trucks and remote servers had been in place. TIP (Transport Integrated Platform) is a web portal, with secure and selective access, accessible via the internet by both internal users (in this case ENI) and external parties such as transport suppliers.

Continuous improvements had led to this being acknowledge as an Italian communication standard. At present the system involved more than 400 vehicles in Italy and involvement from foreign countries was increasing. TIP helped ENI to provide a high quality service, to improve loss prevention strategies, respect laws and rules of safety and the environment and protect the health of workers and the public. “Because transport services are almost completely outsourced, it is necessary to develop instruments for continuous monitoring of processes and performance, and to ensure an adequate level of control of this important aspect of the supply chain,” said Dr Bersani.

The use of big data created by the mobile network could provide information based on millions of mobile “events” round the clock throughout the year. The data could be extrapolated to provide a value in real time in relation to the total population in a specific area.

David Taylor, RSA Europe marine director, who chairs the IUMI loss prevention committee, said that analytics could be difficult to grasp, but “I applaud Chiara for giving us a glimpse of how it is working in logistics.”

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