A group of private and public sector partners from across Europe has teamed up to develop the North Sea Freight Intelligent Transport Solution (NS FRITS), a mobile app designed to improve accessibility for the road freight sector in the North Sea Region, reducing crime, improving traffic flow, and minimising congestion.
The organisations involved in the development of the app include Avanti Communications, Volvo, AVCIS, Avonwood Developments, ISL, People United Against Crime, Humberside Police, the Dutch Police, the University of Hull and The University of Huddersfield. The Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme is co-funding the €4.9m (£4.2m) project; 50 per cent of which is funded from the European Regional Development Fund.
Traditionally, freight transport solutions have been available only to large logistics operators, with the average cost of installing a system in one vehicle running into several thousand Euros. But by harnessing mobile technology, NS FRITS can be easily accessed by the smaller independent freight organisations, saving them time and money and keeping their drivers safe.
Smartphones and other GPS-capable in-vehicle devices remotely access services from the NS FRITS system, using 3G, GPRS, wi-fi, or satellite communications for wider geographical reach. The driver will be able to identify safe parking areas along a route and avoid freight crime hotspots. The app will also give drivers access to the latest traffic updates, lorry-specific road and weather conditions, foreign laws and route-planning data.
The information is multi-lingual and will be delivered in audio, text, graphical and map formats. Desktop software is also being developed to allow a transport operator to access the system and track the driver’s progress.
The system uses open source technology for real-time communication to enable instant messaging, presence (identifying the drivers’ location), multi-party chat, collaboration, and routing of data. The system is operated by voice command for hands-free use. Development and testing of NS FRITS will be completed by December 2011 with large scale live trials of the solution scheduled over the next six months across Europe and the UK.
According to Careers in Logistics, the UK freight and transport industry is worth £14.5bn, and employs around 2.3m people in the UK.