KATS will continue to work for tunnel safety improvements

In December 2020 the Research Council of Norway announced that KATS will receive funding for phase 2, and the project will therefore continue until March 2024.

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In the coming years we will build upon the foundation that we have developed since 2018 and strengthen our capacity to produce new ideas and develop joint activities with our partners in the tunnel safety industry through R&D- and industry projects.

Organizational adjustments for phase 2

We wish to continue to develop new associated projects and in order to strengthen this work we are doing some minor adjustments to the project organization. We will expand the steering committee with members that can open new doors, establish a working group with the capacity to develop and lead new projects, and involve the expert group to a larger extent.

Organizational model of KATS

Webinar on Research Funding Opportunities

Thursday 8th April, we hosted a lunch webinar on research funding opportunities. The goal was to get a better overview, share information with partners and establish a foundation for developing successful research applications. We are planning to arrange additional webinars that aims to build a culture and competence for developing project applications for tunnel safety research projects.

We want to arrange a partner meeting in the third quarter of 2021 where we can identify opportunities for new projects, collaborations, and spin-offs.

Four ongoing and three new PhD-projects

PhD-projects are, and will continue to be, an important part of KATS. Currently, there are four PhD-candidates associated with the project.

Tone Iversen, former project assistant in KATS, is now a PhD-candidate. The overarching goal of her project is to strengthen innovative processes in the tunnel safety industry, and indirectly improve safety in Norwegian tunnels. This will be an applied research project where the results are intended to benefit the tunnel safety industry. It is therefore important for Tone to cooperate closely with both private- and public actors, to understand their challenges and needs related to innovative processes. Iversen hopes to identify new forms of collaboration that can strengthen the innovation system by using past experiences from the industry. For more information about the project, feel free to contact Tone Iversen by email or phone (+47 991 25 253).

KATS will as soon as possible recruit three additional PhD-candidates. Two positions will be related to information and communication technology, digital twins and automatization in a tunnel safety perspective. The third position is related to contingency analysis for tunnels, and the student will be employed by Høgskulen på Vestlandet.

Webinar on Innovation Processes in the Tunnel Safety Industry

25th–28th May, KATS arranged webinars on innovation processes in the tunnel safety industry. We gathered ministries, public actors, road and tunnel owners, industry and research communities to present and discuss their views. The aim was to develop knowledge about the barriers that must be overcome in order to view innovation processes in the tunnel safety industry as a system.

The webinars are planned by KATS (UiS, VIA and NORCE), with support from The Public Roads Administration and Rogaland County Municipality in a preliminary phase. They constitute the first step towards developing a better understanding of innovation processes in relation to tunnel safety, and the results will be followed up trough a workshop with relevant actors as well as in Tone Iversens PhD-project.


Gabriela Bjørnsen is a Public Sector PhD-candidate from Rogaland fire and rescue department and is associated to KATS. She studies learning and development of competence in the fire and rescue services in relation to tunnel safety. Gabriela will, in close cooperation with the state fire school in Tirol (Austria), the education centre BenPin (Germany) and the fire and rescue department in Reutlingen, develop a course for incident commanders. The pilot will start in September 2021. The overarching theme for the course is to coordinate efforts in tunnels and will focus on collaboration and communication. The aim is to strengthen competence in relation to tunnel fires and will constitute of theoretical lectures and table-top sessions.

Seminar series and tunnel safety study program

February 3rd, we arranged our first seminar series on passive fire protection in tunnels. A month later we followed up with to additional seminar series on information technology and its related possibilities in tunnel safety work, and early warning, innovation on sensor systems and communication technology. Through these seminar series we have gained valuable knowledge about the tunnel safety industry and we want to use this arena to identify and develop new ideas in collaboration with the lecturers and participants.

We are preparing a pilot for a “Tunnel safety course” (30 ECTs) that will start next spring. This study program will give the students a thorough introduction to societal- and tunnel safety.

Risk analysis for tunnels

Alf Reidar Nilsen and Ove Njå developed a handbook for risk analysis of road tunnels in 2004, and we will start a process to make an updated version. We have several ongoing activities that will be included in the revision, and we hope that you might be interested in contributing to this work.

ESREL 2021

The ESREL conference of 2021 will include a special session on risk management for design, construction, and operation of tunnels. PhD-candidate Tonja Knapstad is a co-organizer in this special session, where KATS will present several articles.

The special session was initiated by a Greek research group that works with tunnel safety at the National Technical University of Athens and National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos”, that wants to develop a joint arena for tunnel safety. Tonja Knapstad was approached by Dr. Kirytopolous (National Technincal University of Athens) about her participation in organizing the special session. The two of them were introduced at the ESREL conference in 2019, when Tonja presented her article Communication of Vision Zero Values in Tunnel Safety Management and Dr. Kirytopolous participated in the debate that followed. We hope that the conference can be a starting point for developing new relations in our work with tunnel safety.