Smart transport operators require seamless connectivity between all transport subsystems to provide efficient, safe movement of goods and people.
A patchwork of technologies will no longer cut it in the transportation industry. You can’t simply add boxes and services, in an ad-hoc way, and expect to get your goods and people where they need to be, when they need to be there. A holistic approach that connects transport subsystems with real-time communications is the foundation of smart transportation and the foundation of your future.
Moving more people and goods faster, at lower cost, and with fewer risks, are among the many challenges of the day. Before the global health crisis, people were travelling more for both business and pleasure, and transporting goods was on the rise. When the pandemic hit, transportation operators had to adapt their operations, almost overnight, to take advantage of whatever digital technologies they had available.
If you wanted to stay in business, contactless payment, virtual kiosks and automated operations quickly became the ‘de facto’ way of doing business. Any technology advantage that could reduce or remove the need for human interaction or intervention was enlisted.
As the pandemic stretched from weeks to months, and into a second year, the pressure to provide long-term, effective digital solutions that were more than a kludged response to a crisis, has only increased. The pandemic has shone a very bright light on the need for the transportation industry to move to a smarter environment.
Connectivity creates opportunity
At their core, every transportation operator needs to efficiently and smoothly move people and goods through their system, that means they must equally efficiently and smoothly connect the data in their systems. The challenge is while most transportation operators have massive amounts of data from routes, asset management, communications, security, video streams, passengers and business apps, it’s isolated within different subsystems.
When subsystems aren’t interconnected, there’s no way to share information across departments, or roles within the organisation in real-time. And perhaps more importantly, there’s a missed opportunity to use all that data to keep goods and passengers moving and safe.
Just consider what needs to happen, for example, if an electromechanically operated gate doesn’t open. The maintenance staff need to be notified about the situation so investigations and repairs can begin as quickly as possible. Planning for alternate routes, asset deployment, and passenger management is required. Travellers need to be notified of delays, reroutes or cancellations. And employees on the frontline need access to all the latest information to address passenger inquiries. Subsystems that are not interconnected create delays, uncertainty, and insecurity and can have a tremendous negative impact on the situation.
However, subsystems that are connected can execute pre-determined protocols ensuring repairs happen without delay and passengers are informed about what is happening at every stage. In addition, other opportunities exist to use data to move toward a smarter transport environment, including:
• Optimising route planning and asset management: Sharing real-time data between subsystems keeps transport operations running smoothly and on schedule and minimises waste. Combining and analysing data from Wi-Fi and ticketing subsystems can highlight trends that identify shifting demand levels enabling operators to optimise fuel, energy, or human resources. Infrastructure investments can also be aligned with expected traffic flows to optimise budgets.
• Improving passenger and customer experiences: With access to real-time information from multiple systems, operators can provide real-time updates about the movements of vehicles and goods, warn about impending weather situations, and help efficiently plan the end-to-end journey for people and good.
• Monetising data: An overall statistical view of operations can reveal new opportunities to increase revenue. For example, traffic pattern data can provide insights to create discounts for passengers and customers on nearby products and services based on where they’re expected to be.
Connectivity at the foundation of smarter operations
A single connected foundation that links all subsystems is required for smarter transportation. While wireless connectivity is the most efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly way to connect them, it’s important to choose the connectivity option that makes the most sense for each location, system and application. As well, existing wired connectivity infrastructure, such as optical fibre and Ethernet must be considered. Leveraging existing infrastructure simplifies deployment and ensures you get your maximum return on previous investments. And don’t forget about management — a unified management system, across wired and wireless environments provides seamless visibility into all systems and subsystems.
With a connected foundation in place you need to consider the technologies you’ll need to enable smart operations, such as:
• Virtualisation and automation to simplify infrastructure, reduce the need for hardware, and minimise maintenance requirements
• Cloud technologies to enable smarter automation and increase sustainability
• Artificial intelligence and machine learning enabling insightful informed decision-making
• Convergence technologies that bring operational and IT systems and subsystems together to simplify infrastructure and minimise environmental impact
• Data anonymisation to ensure data privacy is guaranteed
Toward smarter transport
Knowledge is power and the more connected the transport subsystems the smarter and more powerful the operations. Real-time information flows that occur when all systems are interconnected can provide early warnings about issues, delays, and hazards and that can provide better outcomes for everyone. And the safety and security of passengers and goods can be better protected.
Download our white paper, Smarter, greener, more secure transportation through digital transformation, to learn how Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is helping operators move toward smarter transport.