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Investing in the resilience of European transport systems

Safer, reliable and more sustainable infrastructure systems are a key EU objective. The SAFEWAY project developed a multifaceted system to enhance the inland transport infrastructure.

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The well-being of European citizens is also based on the ability to reduce and foresee the impact of adverse events. A geographic information system (GIS) based infrastructure management system (IMS) for optimised response to extreme circumstances on terrestrial transport networks is now available thanks to the EU-funded SAFEWAY project. “The SAFEWAY results are to be directly used by managers and operators of infrastructure, through tools that allow reliable management of infrastructure assets, as well as empower end users with knowledge about the effects of climate change on infrastructure and its adaptation needs,” explains project coordinator Belén Riveiro. “Moreover, our project introduces new monitoring approaches to allow management systems to anticipate the occurrence and impact of extreme events.”

Robust, resourceful, rapidly recoverable and redundant transport infrastructure

Through four diverse case studies, in the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, the project offers knowledge about short-term actions, such as the management of emergency situations, as well as long term actions, like a new construction basis and smart materials to improve the structural response of critical assets. SAFEWAY identified extreme weather conditions and climate risk ‘hotspots’ as well as natural threats and human-provoked disasters (e.g. fires in tunnels, accidents, human failure and sabotage) that could lead to disruptions in terrestrial transport networks. Next to offering a better understanding of the magnitude of the consequences of the most relevant natural and man-made hazards in Europe, the project consortium integrated conditions into infrastructure information models specifically developed for infrastructure networks. Additionally, SAFEWAY developed an innovative crowdsourcing concept that uses real-time traffic monitoring and simultaneous high temporal resolution infrastructure monitoring. Crowdsourcing also includes human sensing concepts by exploiting the data that is being recruited from end users through social media. Another contribution was the development of predictive models for critical infrastructure assets that consider the measured structural performance and trends registered in the infrastructure information models. Finally, the project developed and implemented a modular GIS-IMS that integrates and guarantees the inter-communication and optimal transfer of data between the different inter-dependent modules.

Managing infrastructures through a platform with multiple applications

The core of the project, the SAFEWAY GIS-IMS, integrates different innovative components, the majority of them being part of a resilience-based decision support system that integrates risk based dynamic predictive models. The SAFEWAY platform can digest data and information collected from different sources. These comprise remote sensing-based monitoring, including both satellite and terrestrial sensors for multiscale condition survey – both network level and at asset level – and real-time monitoring of the transport network by crowdsourcing approaches, including data collected from connected vehicles and social media. As the SAFEWAY platform is based on GIS technology, existing maps and databases about the exposure of European transport networks to different natural hazards are also being integrated so that these can be taken into account for decision-making. “Now that the project has been successfully implemented and demonstrated in operational environments, business and exploitation plans are under development for the SAFEWAY tools and services,” reveals Riveiro. “At this stage, patents are being prepared for some results. Other services integrated into the SAFEWAY IT platform have already reached the market, such as Rheticus® Safeway, TimesUpp, including evacuation services, MSManager®, and more.”


SAFEWAY, infrastructure, transport networks, GIS, IMS, geographic information system, infrastructure management system, extreme events

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