28 Mar 2022

Guest blog: How transit organisations can benefit from unification  

Guest blog by Steve Green, Business Development Manager at Genetec as part of techUK's Future of Mobility Campaign Week

With the rapid evolution of technology, many public transit organisations now find themselves in a state of digital chaos. Digital solutions are in abundance, yet businesses are hungry for more technologies that can enable them to grow and remain competitive.  

Because of this, stations, service facilities, operation headquarters — and vehicles— now find themselves locked into a range of disconnected systems that fail to present a single picture of what is happening on the network. Although many changes must be made to further modernise transit infrastructure, tackling the issues of data management and unification is a good start. 

One step at a time 

Organisations need to lead with open eyes and develop a solid digital transformation strategy. Start with identifying the most pressing key challenges to solve and build from there. Avoid trying to tackle all problems at once, as it often leads to a complex integration that theoretically can achieve everything but in practice helps no one.  

For example, a good starting point for many organisations is gathering real-time location data about their vehicles and how they are being used throughout the day. This is where the Internet of Things, (IoT) can help. With more IoT devices onboard public transit vehicles, organisations can now collect data from their fleet and offer better updates to commuters. An IoT device can serve as an in-vehicle data collector to retrieve information for analysis by a central platform. This way, only the most valuable data is extracted and shared to serve specific needs.   

From there, an agency can then progress to tracking its fleets’ exact GPS location and current onboard situation, e.g., occupancy levels in each carriage. This data can become highly valuable for travellers, including information like arrival and departure times, likelihood of finding a seat, service updates, and more.   

Other IoT devices, such as LiDAR and access control systems, can also be used to protect sensitive facilities and mitigate incursions that will likely lead to service disruptions.  

Unification is the answer  

The advantages offered by IoT are immediately obvious in capturing data flows needed to better manage networks. But having a lot of data is only beneficial if organisations can make sense of it and turn it into actionable information.  

Unification allows organisations to consolidate the data that currently lives in numerous systems, in one easily accessible location. This can enable operators to make more intelligent business decisions and ultimately enhance passenger safety and satisfaction.  

A unified platform, can enable operators to simultaneously monitor the number of passengers on board or within a station to deduce real and projected occupancy rates and follow train journeys to communicate precise arrival/departure times. A unified system is not limited to GPS or video analytics data either. It can go far beyond that, including video surveillance, access control, automatic license plate reading, telematics, communications, etc., allowing not only for better user information, but also for improved quality, efficiency, and safety of operations. 

A unified platform also gives organisations the power to choose from a wide variety of software and hardware solutions, so they’re never locked into one provider or pigeon-holed into deploying certain technologies. Choosing an open-architecture platform further ensures businesses can adopt new technologies as their business and security needs change. 

How will you evolve your mass transit security? 

Moving towards a unified security platform can seem daunting to transit organisations. By taking things one step at a time, any transit organisation can start modernising security and increasing collaboration in ways that will pay off down the road. 

Setting up the right infrastructure and choosing an open unified platform makes the investment go further. With all this in place, it becomes easier to start merging existing devices onto the new security platform, as well as bringing onboard vehicle systems and other technologies into the bigger security picture over time.  


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Steve Green, Business Development Manager at Genetec as a part of techUK's Future of Mobility Campaign Week 


To read more from Future of Mobility Campaign Week check out our landing page here.