The Internet of Things is already improving public transport

Thu 21 May
The Internet of Things, buzzword du jour, is increasingly being used by public transport operators to improve and automate operations.
The interconnection of unique devices (things) on network infrastructure (the Internet) is being applied to everything that collects data, including devices used for smart ticketing and passenger counting, signage, geoservices and the communication systems used in everyday operations.
We may still think of the IoT as a technology of the future, it’s already here: Eurotech’s IT solutions can connect every element of public transport network operations, providing the technical tools to assemble groups of devices and sensors to connect them to IT infrastructure. This covers everything from vehicle control to location tracking applications, and from public announcement systems, passenger information systems, enhanced communications, passenger counting, fleet management and surveillance systems. Likewise, Kapsch Group has worked for years on examining how internet technologies can be used to improve the traffic situations in cities, and their intelligent transport systems and railway and public operator telecommunications systems are already connecting and automating operations in a number of cities around the world.
New York Waterways’ teamed up with Fluidmesh Networks to design and engineer a network that would allow it connect all their vessels and monitor them round the clock in terms of security, energy and fleet management, digital signage, public wifi, paperless ticketing and more. Another of the most cited examples is Transport for London’s project to install network-enabled sensors in their CCTV systems, escalators, PA loudspeakers, air conditioning systems, and subway tunnels that allow central systems to manage, monitor, and automate individual tasks.
The public transport industry is a leader in the volume and variety of data that is generated by on-board sensors and data collection points mentioned above. ‘Data warehouses’ contain unprecedented potential for deriving insights into planning and managing transportation networks. Urban Insights Associates Inc., a subsidiary of Cubic Transportation Systems, offers consultation services to help the transport industry apply big data tools and transport-specific data science processes in order to optimise the networks and improve the quality of service.
The interconnection of embedded devices is expected to usher in automation in nearly all fields. The Internet of Things is already here, and you’ll be hearing about it a lot more in the future.
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  • A version of this article appeared in the print edition of "The Journal of the UITP World Congress & Exhibition" Issue # 2 in March 2015 on page 1 under the same headline.