Three technology advancements are set to transform the transport industry ‒ command and control technology, connectivity, and the cloud. The combination of these will, says Greg Alcorn, divisional director for Transport & Infrastructure at Synectics, enable operators to support the growing demand for safer, and more connected, passenger journeys.
Capitalising on the opportunity that new technology presents will help transport operators improve safety, security, and service efficiency, while also supporting the transition to seamless, multi-modal passenger travel.
This is the message we shared at this year’s InnoTrans, where we explained the opportunities and migration path that operators can take advantage of to reach this reality.
It’s advice based on experience. For over 30 years we’ve been providing surveillance and data management solutions for on-vehicle, transport infrastructure, and public space sectors. Until relatively recently, these sectors have operated very separately. However, with an increase in urbanisation and the smart city trend, these independent environments are now merging.
What’s driving change?
Passenger expectation is a crucial driver for change. Members of the public want seamless travel where they are informed at every stage, and confidence that operators are working in a coordinated way to deliver efficiency. Furthermore, the global focus on transport security is pushing organisations and agencies to look at how they can work more collaboratively with each other, emergency services, and local authorities.
Meeting these expectations can seem a daunting prospect, but by using the right technology in the right way, it needn’t be. At InnoTrans we demonstrated our command and control platform, Synergy 3, and other transport-specific solutions; showing how they can be implemented by operators seeking to unlock capabilities at their own pace.
A logical path to new ways of working
The first step for many is actually to adopt a ‘back office function’ that can unify data from on-vehicle systems – CCTV, vehicle trackers, telematics, ticketing, journey management, passenger info, and passenger Wi-Fi – to gain an accurate picture of service usage, passenger safety, and vehicle performance.
Many customers already use our on-vehicle solutions to do exactly this. They can investigate incidents more quickly, integrate with third-party systems, reduce fuel consumption through informed service and route planning, and even improve training for staff using the data gathered. However, the possibilities get even more interesting when you consider vehicle-to-ground connectivity.
We’ve designed Synergy 3 to be an integral component in this logical progression, enabling static, centrally based teams to gain this same unified view in real time, over a Wi-Fi or cellular network. In the last year, for example, we developed and delivered a train-to-ground solution in conjunction with Synergy 3 that enabled a European rapid transit operator to receive, manage, and respond to on-vehicle passenger help requests remotely from a central command centre.
Vehicle-to-ground connectivity introduces far-reaching potential for the transport industry as integration with specific systems presents so much opportunity for the converging worlds of on-vehicle and infrastructure. In particular, the ability to translate real-time data into action and respond to threats in the moment.
Real-time, accurate passenger updates
Real-time, precise service updates for passengers (including details of connecting transport services for more streamlined transfers), location-based advertising, and improved passenger help services are demonstrable benefits that improve customer satisfaction.
Command and control technology also facilitates major security improvements such as persons of interest tracking and incident response. Operators have the functionality at their fingertips to work more collaboratively with external services and agencies to ensure the safety and security of passengers at every stage of their connected journey.
A more connected future
It is a collaborative, connected future that will only be further strengthened with the adoption of cloud-based solutions. Few sectors are likely to benefit more from cloud capabilities than the transportation industry. Connecting IoT devices and transmitting information securely to the cloud has significant advantages for managing and sharing information.
Within transport organisations, it means, for example, that different departments can access live data dashboards tailored to exact needs without duplicating effort, saving both time and resources. Crucially, it also allows operators to rapidly and confidently share video and data evidence with relevant external parties including emergency services and authorities.
The outcome is a highly connected, highly effective transport network where all relevant parties can work together to improve passenger experience and safety.
The author of this blog is Greg Alcorn, divisional director for transport & infrastructure at Synectics