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Secured Cargo Black Box

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Waterborne icon
Transport policies
Transport sectors
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

An earlier FP4 project (DISC II) had proposed a cargo black box as a means of tracking and tracing a ship's route in a way that is impossible to forge. While it was developed within the specific context of fraud in agriculture refunds and food aid transport, an extended concept is seen as a valid and reliable tool to reduce all customs and administratives process in short sea shipping.


S-CBB aimed to accelerate the adoption and use of telematics applications for preventing fraud in export activities. It aimed at demonstrating that the use of modern telematics applications can provide proof of dischargement of goods. This will be done by minimising administrative procedures and guarantying integrity of operations.

S-CBB's specific objectives have been to:

  • Enable, protect and secure human intervention in the automated chain of information;
  • extend the system specification to the broad range of all exchange within the EC waterways;
  • design a generic tool to improve maritime transport by easing administrative procedures and making them more efficient; and
  • propose solutions in terms of regulation and standardisation for implementing such a system.


S-CBB planned to come up with a telematic tool that could replace existing processes in maritime transport, thus helping to define a framework for new customs regulations. The idea behind the project has been to contribute in making sea transport in Europe more efficient, with consideration of technological and procedural solutions in the context of wider user requirements, by implementing a maritime 'TIR' system.

The approach was to:

  • Study the detailed process of exporting goods from EC to third countries as well as good door to door transport operations in which short sea shipping is a main issue; and
  • develop, improve and validate methods to improve transport efficiency, reduce administrative and financial costs for the different parties, and keep the technology and know-how ahead of fraud intentions.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


S-CBB has:

  • Analysed the existing chain of information in maritime transport which led to the definition of blocking nodes in the chain and to the identification of all administrative processes that could be avoided, reduced or improved;
  • specified the functions required to acquire, enter, store and secure data with a focus to the requirements of a multipurpose business platform as well as to the different interfaces that need to be developed;
  • set the legislative framework for the technology developed as well as for the concept it carries, i.e reducing administrative and customs processes and setting up new customs regulations based on telematics means through

    - analysis of current regulation that defines the administrative processes in door-to-door transport as well as in international transport,

    - elaboration of a homogenous standard of processes, including the technical elements for the various components of the system,

    - definition of legal, normative and responsibility scope,

    - standardisation of the professional equipment to be used; and
  • developed the functional architecture of a secured cargo black box application which allows tracking and tracing of vessels at all times, however, not only providing the exact route followed by ships but allowing also to compare their speed with the normal average, thus being able to detect any situation that would not be normal, such as the unloading of cargo at sea; the S-CBB architecture hence comprises:

    - a reliable transmitter to localize ships and supply information on transport of the goods,

    - identification and certification software to confirm goods delivery,

    - a processing centre (or remote data operations centre) for processing data to be send,

    - a platform (S-CBB server) to distribute and exchange data to end-users,

    - a security management entity to cover all security aspects of the system, based on modern satellite, Internet and biometric technologies integrated into a data acquisition chain operating automatically and reliably in near real-time.

Policy implications

The S-CBB system should be made compulsory for all movements of goods within the EU and for exports of goods to third countries when the payment of EU refunds is involved. This would result in an increased safety of the vessels. It would also be of great interest to the insurance companies as they would be in a position to monitor cargo and to receive alerts whenever something abnormal occurrs at sea. Eventually, the system would be more acceptable to ship captains and crew due to the fact that it would be complying with legislation and not just targeting particular vessels.

Legally such a system is drawing on international initiatives and recommendations from organisations such as IMO, EC, ITU, WTO, etc. In fact, these organisations are in a position to accept suggestions from research projects that would benefit the EU, e.g. in the areas of security, economics and the environment. Thus, the benefits of the S-CBB concept should clearly be communicated among all stakeholders.


Key Findings

No results directly relevant to this theme. However, please note that some findings relevant to the project's key theme (Safety and Security) are generically applicable.


Policy Implications

No policy implications directly relevant to this theme. However, please note that implications for the project's key theme (Safety and Security) are generically applicable.


Key Findings


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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