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On 1 April 2013 the MCTCNet2 project will be operational. A development of MCTCNet, the new IT instrument will change the inspection system to guarantee the reliability of roadworthiness checks

Massimo Brunamonti

MANY OF US WILL remember the 30 September and 3 October 2011 episodes of the TV programme “Striscia la Notizia” that investigated fradulent roadworthiness checks. Vehicles that were obviously dangerous passed “on paper” inspections carried out by ill-equipped inspection centres. After watching these programmes, we all hoped that these were exceptions and that the vast majority of roadworthiness centres operate correctly; such appalling illegality can no longer be tolerated.

Luckily, it seems that dishonest inspection centres are going to have a very hard, if not impossible, life. On 28 September, the Ministry for Infrastructures and Transport issued Circular Prot. R.U. 26222 which describes the dates and ways in which a new IT instrument that will change the vehicle inspection system will come into operation. It concerns the introduction of a method for interfacing between inspection centre instruments and remote IT connection that is complete, reliable and can be tracked.

MCTCNet2 is the new communication protocol designed and set up by the Direzione Genarale della Motorizzazione at the Ministry for Infrastructures and Transport directed by Maurizio Vitelli and it will become operational on 1 April 2013. As explained by Stefano Baccarini, director of Division 4 of the Direzione Genarale della Motorizzazione, its purpose is to guarantee the “truthfulness of tests” and the “security of inspection data”. The new MCTCNet2 communication protocol  “has perfected an absolutely original system on the EC panorama. The main objective of which is to guarantee the greater appropriateness of checks on vehicles in circulation and the legitimate interests of the Administration’s monitoring and control actions.”

The MCTCNet2 project is a development of MCTCNet which, in addition to modern IT data transmission and encryption technologies, introduces a more reliable and structured inspection system with important practical consequences. First and foremost, it will no longer be possible to perform inspections “on paper”; the vehicle itself must in the inspection line when the tests are carried out. How can this be ascertained? Simple: the vehicle and the number plate will be photographed automatically recognized throughout the inspection stages; if the photographed number plate does not match that of the vehicle that has been checked in, it will not pass the inspection. It should be emphasized also that the digital photograph will be stored with the inspection data. The outcome of the inspection will automatically depend on the results of individual tests. All the instruments in the inspection line (brake test, gas analyzer, headlight test, etc.) will generate the relevant test result without any intervention on the part of the operator; the inspection is passed provided that all instrument tests and visual inspections are positive. The test results and inspection data will be encrypted by means of algorithms of the type used for credit cards; this will prevent the alteration of or tampering with data that are transferred through the IT system to the CED at the Ministry for Transport, where they are collected in real time and no longer refer only to the result of the inspection as a whole, but to all individual instrument and visual tests.

This is a development of supreme importance: the Administration will not only have important information about the actual state of vehicles, but also a powerful monitoring tool that will enable it to carry out more effective and targeted actions. This instrument puts Italy ahead of its time in the European context because it has the IT platform necessary for future integration at European level, as envisaged by the regulation proposed by the European Commission in July.

The gestation of the MCTCNet2 project began over five years ago and reached completion in October 2011. But the complexity of the system raised concerns and doubts, especially by inspection centres; consequently, it was considered opportune to carry out a simulation in the field. An agreement was therefore signed by the Ministry for Infrastructures and Transport, AICA – the Italian Association of Garage Equipment Manufacturers -, CNA Inspection Centres, Anara/Confartigianato and Unione delle Province Italiane for trying out MCTCNet2. Between November and December 2011, three tests were performed at the Crspad centres in Rome and Cpa of Bologna using equipment updated with MCTCNet2 by AICA manufacturers. Real roadworthiness checks were performed in accordance with the new MCTCNet2 standard on a significant number of vehicles and motorcycles of various types. The result was extremely positive: the new system works and reliable inspections were carried out in the same time and with the same resources as the old system.

They then passed to the operational stage without further delay: PC software conformity began to be verified for the relevant homologations. These verifications are currently underway and early results are positive; we believe that this enabled the Ministry to issue the abovementioned Circular and establish the dates on which MCTCNet2 will come into force. Briefly:

1. From 1 April 2013, all software that has passed verification and received the certificate of homologation can be installed at inspection centres;

2. 1 April 2013 will also be the start of verifications of MCTCNet2 adoption in equipment, the relevant documentation of which will be issued by 30 June 2013;

3. From 1 July 2013 MCTCNet2 updates can be installed in existing equipment or in new equipment that is compatible with MCTCNet2 and has passed the verifications;

4. Inspection centres will have one year to adapt their structures; on 1 July 2014 the MCTCNet2 environment will be compulsory for all.

Is it the end of fraudulent roadworthiness checks? We certainly hope so. It is unpleasant to see disloyal and fraudulent behaviour that damages firms and citizens and puts them at risk; just as it is disappointing to realize that evidently there are some people who use dishonest operators without a thought for the negative consequences for themselves and the community.

As to “Striscia la Notizia”, it did well to investigate and show us those videos; it is to be hoped that any visits it makes to inspection centres after July 2014, will not provide them with any material for further bitter amusement.

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