Only 10% of all road and rail accidents are the consequence of mechanical issues. Two key aggravating factors impact the ability of operators to drive safely: fatigue and illnesses resulting in reduced cognitive awareness, or loss of consciousness.
In 2017, 10 people were injured when a bus driver lost consciousness at the wheel in London. In 2016, 7 people were killed when a tram driver had a micro-sleep at the Sandilands Junction. In 2014, 6 people were killed when a bin lorry driver lost consciousness at the wheel in Glasgow.
As part of a range of actions to reinforce even further the safety measures implemented across public sector vehicles (bus, bin lorries, tram, etc.), the City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh Trams aim to reduce and mitigate the likelihood of fatigue and health-related incidents.
The DISC approach is not to be reactive (i.e. stopping the vehicle after a loss of consciousness), but pre-emptive: DISC aims to support the development of a solution able to capture early-signs of loss of focus, consciousness/alertness/paralysis, or similar, in order to mitigate or prevent incidents before they occur.
A market analysis was implemented in 2017 to estimate the capabilities of the market to deliver such a solution. Findings included that no single company was equipped to propose a solution pre-emptively monitoring the risk of both fatigue and health-related incidents. As such, the DISC has been structured as an innovation partnership procurement: an open innovation challenge aiming to foster partnerships between companies, support the R&D of bidders, test the solutions created, and enable the purchase of the best performing solution.
As one of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government projects, DISC also aims to document new PPI used, and provide guidance and lessons learned for other innovation projects in Scotland.