Innovative personnel location system increases safety in world’s longest railway tunnel

The Swiss Gotthard Base Tunnel extends for a length of over 57 kilometers. Swiss Railway trains race through this tunnel at speeds of up to 250 km/h about once every 30 minutes. Train service pauses for only 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday nights when up to 250 employees enter the tunnel to perform necessary maintenance work.

With a tunnel length of over 150 km, time must be used efficiently: maintenance staff often require up to 3 hours just to arrive at and/or depart from the site. At the same time, however, employee safety in this complex tunnel is the topmost priority.

For over six months now, an innovative personnel tracking system, a joint project by Rhomberg Bahntechnik AG, Control Center Apps GmbH and ESRI, has been in operation increasing both safety and efficiency in the tunnel. More than 1800 Heavy Duty iBeacons provided by kontakt.io were installed in the underground tunnel system enabling internal and external employees to be easily located via the Bluetooth iBeacons.

The actual position of all employees is shown on a map on mobile devices and can also be seen in the control room. This information is paramount in the event of a necessary evacuation. Safety-relevant processes such as presence checks at the start and end of shifts, the keeping of location logs, team relocations and employee transfers between teams, all previously paper-based processes, are now handled via the mobile app on tablets and smartphones providing essential real-time information.

"Every year, the maintenance of the Gotthard Base Tunnel and the Ceneri Base Tunnel eats up around 30 million Euros," says Thomas Gut, Head of Lifecycle Management Gotthard Axis. "My goal in choosing this system was to increase safety while reducing long-term operating costs."

At the time of writing, the Ceneri Base Tunnel has already been equipped with this innovative personnel location system as well!

Unite Alert 2.0

01/19/2020
Improved Situational Awareness, Drone Integration and new Data Privacy Features

Release 2.0 of our mobile first incident and crisis management system is available soon.

Read our new flyer and get a taste of Unite Alert 2.0.

Unite Alert Flyer

UniteAlert

Discover the upcoming Unite Alert 2.0 features:

  • Improved incident situation map
    • Staff position
    • Position of observations
    • Drone integration (drone position and media immediately available)
  • Incident-specific media list
  • Special treatment of sensitive content
  • Privacy protection: automatically blur faces in pictures
Unite Alert 2.0 will be available from Q2/2020.

Visit us at the PMRExpo 2019 booth D02 (Frequentis) and discuss the new features!

In order not to disrupt railway operations, maintenance work in tunnels can only be carried out in short time windows which are planned well in advance. Strict safety regulations require every employee to maintain site records and document important processes. This paper documentation is very time-consuming and also impacts on the already tight schedule.

For now. - Since the end of 2018, SBB, Rhomberg Bahntechnik, Indoo.rs and Control Center Apps have been working on the implementation of a smartphone-based personnel location system.

This will make it possible to track the position of employees in the tunnel and to control and document important activities such as entering the tunnel or the team´s handover. The required safety protocols are also generated automatically.

This ambitious project makes use of the latest technologies available on the market, especially in the areas of location, cloud technology and mobile services.

To mark the end of a first pilot phase, in which the positioning system and a series of basic functionalities were successfully tested in parts of the tunnel construction, the final event of the pilot project was held on 5 June, at which the individual functions and technical background were presented to the numerous guests at various market stands.

Despite this success, the team still has a lot of work to do before the system can be rolled out with all its functionalities at the beginning of 2020 and, in a further step, made available for the Ceneri Base Tunnel.

Project Presentation at GBT

For the development of high quality, robust web and mobile apps, CCA has been using the functional programming language ReasonML since early 2018. ReasonML, also called "Reason" for short, was developed at Facebook for the Messenger web app where it drastically reduced the error rate.

CCA contributes to open source projects in the Reason ecosystem and has been the initiator of the new Reason bindings for React Native.

In his talk "A Mission-Critical ReasonML App for Railway Safety" at ReasonConf 2019, Christoph Knittel presented a web application for the railway sector that CCA developed in Reason:/

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/LDDMLgvNeCI?wmode=opaque&autoplay=1&rel=0Play Video

Hafen Wien

3 million square meters. 3 freight ports. Direct connection to rail, road and ship traffic. Direct connection to the refinery Schwechat. 1000 cargo ships per year – HAFEN WIEN represents a unique logistics hub in the Vienna area.

Of course, operating such an infrastructure requires a corresponding incident management. All possible incident categories, ranging from floods to accidents, must be dealt with in a timely, coordinated and documented manner.

Since the beginning of the year, HAFEN WIEN has been relying on Unite Alert, a distributed incident management system from Control Center Apps GmbH. The core idea of ​​the system is to allow all important activities like reporting incidents, alerting responsible personnel, coordinating the operation, communication, multimedia documentation and recording to be done via a simple mobile app. This enables the management of an incident from virtually anywhere and is not limited to an operation center.

Herr Lutz

"Whether it's a flood or an industrial accident: every type of incident requires coordination by appropriate specialists. It was important to HAFEN WIEN to choose a system that would allow the relevant specialist to coordinate the incident from his current location."Harald Lutz Head of IT Systems Engineering

After a short conceptual phase, Unite Alert was deployed as Software as a Service (SaaS) within just three months and was put into production after a short trial period at the beginning of the year.

Read more about Unite Alert.

We relocated our office to the seventh district of Vienna. The new address is

Control Center Apps GmbH
Kaiserstraße 113-115/11
1070 Wien
Austria

Kontakt

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Flood. The local authorities require the help of volunteers and NGOs. For better coordination, they share a Crowd Com activation code via Facebook. Volunteers install and activate the Crowd Com app. Now they receive spoken instructions and announcements directly on their smartphones. Unite Crowd Com makes it possible to track the reach of announcements in real-time. Volunteers can confirm having received the information. Then the control center sees the locations of those having confirmed the announcement on a map. A simple push on a button triggers a callback to a number transmitted with the according announcement to avoid blocking emergency numbers.

Get further information – also concerning railway- or airport-related use cases – on our landing page. There you can also request a free trial.

We will be present at the PMRExpo 2017 in Cologne from 28 to 30 November. Please feel free to visit us at the Frequentis booth C02 – we are looking forward to getting to know you!

Unite Crowd Com landing page

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It was all about the digital transformation of the railways and Rail 4.0 at this year’s Frequentis Raildays. In front of 29 rail companies from 19 different countries, Control Center Apps GmbH (CCA) impressively demonstrated how clever mobile services enable a railway company to act more consistently, quickly and flexibly along with ensuring a more professional appearance.

CCA product line for a more agile organization

Distribution of situational information to staff members and partners in a comprehensible manner; efficient communication with coworkers and external actors via spoken announcements to smartphones; spontaneous setup and management of ad-hoc teams – for example to respond to crisis situations: These are the domains of the three CCA products “Unite Inform”, “Unite Crowd Com” and “Unite Crowd Task”.

They are available as cloud services, but also as self-hosted solutions, enabling a short-term, risk-free implementation in every railway organization. Thereby the customers benefit from CCA’s experience resulting from the deployment of mobile services at several railway organizations.

Download CCA’s presentation to find more details as well as an outlook to future extensions.

CCA presentation at Frequentis Raildays 2017

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Inform all mobile and stationary staff about the current operational, technical or crisis situation. Ensure the professional appearance of your company. Enable your staff to take the current situation into account. Prevent rumors.

The landing Page for our product Unite Inform tells you more about our lightweight mobile service and lets you try it out immediately.

Click here: Unite Inform Landing Page

Apps in Bring Your Own Device scenarios are difficult to handle. The according devices are often not under control of a device management system, nevertheless there is a high need to remotely configure those enterprise apps, update or change their configuration or even selectively enable or lock them for specific devices.

Furthermore, apps often have to be switched between different environments, like production environments, training environments, or test environments. ​ CAPS (Critical Application Platform Services) is a lean, multi-customer cloud service that focuses exactly on these needs. CAPS is available not only for CCA developed apps, but for 3rd party apps as well.

Attaching the app to a configuration

Via a Web App, a configuration for a certain environment is defined.

The app can be easily attached to this configuration by scanning an associated QR code or tapping a configuration link. Also default configurations are supported.

CAPS: Attaching to a Configuration

Changing the app's configuration

Updating the configuration is done completely transparently for the user since the app automatically retrieves new revisions of a configuration.

CAPS always knows the current configuration and revision of the app on each device, allowing you to track the status on all devices.

CAPS: Changing the Configuration

Switching to a different configuration

An app can be switched to a different configuration by simply scanning a different configuration QR code or configuration link. Alternatively, the app on a certain device can be actively pushed to switch to a different configuration.

CAPS: Switching Configuration

CAPS provides a plentitude of additional features like distribution of apps, disabling them on certain devices, or monitoring the number of active app instances. Last but not least a convincing argument might simply be the reasonable pricing compared to the enormous costs of typical device management systems.

This innovative service proves again CCA’s competence in mobile services for mission-critical environments.

Like it! Share it! Follow us on LinkedIn or Xing!

Contact sales@cca.io for more information.

At the Frequentis Rail Days 2015, CCA took the chance to present their new product CCA Announcer for the first time. Read about the impressive features of this new announcement system and request one of our sought-after demo kits.

Announcer

Audio Announcements -- Directly to Your Passengers’ Smartphones

Today, passenger announcements in stations or on trains are much more than just information. When plans or operations change, announcements are of paramount importance, effectively steering passengers and this way avoiding expensive delay minutes. Keeping your customers up-to-date with information is also an important factor in customer satisfaction.

Unfortunately, loudspeaker announcements suffer several disadvantages:

  • They require expensive infrastructure.
  • They are often acoustically hard to understand.
  • They can be missed due to distractions (conversations, smartphones, ...).

Most passengers (about 75%) are busy on their smartphones when they travel.
The CCA Announcer allows you to push announcements directly onto these smartphones.

After installing the app, the passenger automatically receives your announcements. Simple announcements like "Please step back -- your train is arriving" can be played immediately. Announcements requiring higher attention, like "Bus replacement service between ..." are signaled to the user and played after tapping the notification.

There are many ways to narrow down which passengers should receive an announcement: Via GPS, geographical areas can be selected. New localization technologies allow addressing passengers in concrete moving objects like trains, single railway carriages, or busses, as well as areas within buildings, like platforms.

Group functionality and CCA’s experience concerning the development of barrier-free apps allow providing special services for persons with limited mobility or visually impaired persons.

Benefits:

  • Effective announcements without expensive infrastructure.
  • Satisfied passengers due to precise and acoustically clear comprehendible information.
  • Easy integration into your infrastructure and into existing apps.

Steering Your Staff

During urgent situations, railway services are taking advantage of new ways of organizing -- like crowd tasking. If, for example, support is required near a staff member’s home, they may voluntarily report to service even outside working hours to support their company in an extreme situation. In these cases staff do not work in their usual role but join together in common cause.

Steering staff in this situation is a challenge. To assure the full potential of the organization is harnessed, quick and easy instructions to this shifting number of volunteers have to be issued. Current means of communication like mobile telephony or texting are not appropriate for these kinds of situations.

The CCA Announcer is the tool of choice for extreme situations like this, but also for steering a large number of staff in a normal-pressure situation. Only an Internet browser is required to send announcements to a certain type of staff in a certain region. Users simply need to install the Announcer app to automatically receive your announcements via the loudspeakers or the headsets of their smartphones.

Benefits:

  • Effectively steer your staff without expensive infrastructure or special mobile devices.
  • An Internet browser turns every PC or laptop into your control center.
  • No action required to listen to the announcements.

As part of the Frequentis-internal study "Future of Railway Communication" at the beginning of this year, CCA implemented a functional demonstrator of a tablet-based dispatcher.

Demonstrator Screenshot

The key requirements were challenging:

  • Implementation for a state of the art tablet device
  • SIP-based communication via 3G/LTE/WLAN
  • 100% cloud-based infrastructure
  • Applicability as an expansion module for the Frequentis FTS 3020 Product Platform
  • New features like display of presence state, video and chat

The target platform for this demonstrator was iOS on iPad, though the selected technology allows the realization for Android and Windows 10 as well.

The implementation within the short time frame was challenging no less, especially concerning the communication link in changing (mobile) network topologies.

Within June, the cloud-based infrastructure as well as the tablet application were ready for extensive testing. Immediately the testing staff got intrigued by the lightning-fast call setup and availability without any location restriction in the 3G/LTE network. Trials with users spread over several European countries made the participants dream about new use cases using the iPad dispatcher right on site, embedding photos into chats or transmitting live video. All these ideas will be incorporated into the concept of future Frequentis communication systems.

For CCA this project was another opportunity to impressively demonstrate their competence in the fields of mobile communication.

Chat with our team