by Dion Cunningham, Head of Delivery UK
Analytics and automation: better operations, better customer experience
Analytics and automation are the future of public transport. By giving operators, managers, drivers, station staff, maintenance teams and executives accurate and timely information, they can make better decisions. Insights and business intelligence derived from data analytics will reveal opportunities and efficiencies that might otherwise have remained hidden.
Public-transit operators who embrace data to transform their operations will reap many benefits. Stations of the future will deploy advanced solutions such as video analytics and smart automation to add new capabilities. In addition, existing automated capabilities such as data-driven maintenance schedules can become proactive and preventive, further reducing downtime and enhancing service availability.
Video analytics provides transport operators with a broad set of cost-effective tools to improve safety and operational efficiency.
Facial-recognition systems can assist with passenger tracking, billing, ticketing and access control. Behavioral monitoring can help manage crowding and mass passenger movements, playing a critical role in harm prevention and incident management. Smart monitoring systems can provide object-detection and incident-detection capabilities, along with asset identification and tracking. Transit authorities can detect passenger flow through stations, better monitor restricted areas and gauge compliance with current mask-wearing bylaws during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These functions are only the beginning. Once authorities establish a reliable network of connected video cameras, it becomes easier to add new capabilities. Using the data collected to train a learning algorithm is a low-cost exercise relative to the expense of acquiring an all-new system. These analytics engines can quickly identify operational improvements. Working in the background to discover connections between data points and detect real-world incidents and situations.
A ‘smart network’ is one that combines a range of sensors with artificial intelligence and machine learning systems. Sensors may include cameras, motion detectors, environmental monitoring gauges and sound detection (i.e., for intrusion detection, and unusually loud noises). These networks give transit authorities detailed insights into conditions across their operations.
Automated, vision-guided robotic systems can be deployed to improve and simplify position detection and inspection tasks. More commonly used in manufacturing, we believe there are many possibilities for vision-guided robots in the public-transit space. Potential uses include maintenance and safety inspections, the manufacturing and repair of specialist parts, and even safety or emergency tasks, such as inspecting incident sites.
Finally, with analytics-driven data convergence and business-process creation, transit operators can develop new types of intelligent software to automate even more of their operations. These applications can free operators from routine tasks so they can make high-value, business-critical judgments.
Organizations often view analytics and automation as tactical tools, best suited for solving short- and mid-term operational problems. But their greater value is strategic. Public-transport systems are by nature capital intensive, which means decisions made today will have implications for years, if not decades, to come.
Good decisions depend on good data and analytics, and automation systems are critical data-management tools. Data analytics can discover new patterns and connections within datasets to optimize operational efficiency. Such insights might address passenger flows, service schedules, or interfaces with other transport systems.
These insights can go beyond optimizing efficiency. They can reveal new business opportunities, new ways to manage costs and new strategies to help position an organization for long-term growth and success. Passenger data can show the need for new services or network extensions. Similarly, performance and maintenance data can give direction on rolling stock requirements and optimal usage.
Combining data from public transport, public health, road traffic, police and other sources can yield further insights. For instance, the combined data may reveal future infrastructure requirements well before any individual source would identify them.
Get ready for the future
BAI Communications has delivered network and communications infrastructure in some of the world’s busiest transit systems, including in Toronto and New York. This infrastructure is the foundation for advanced data-based solutions, such as analytics and automation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant challenges for transit operators. They must become even more flexible operationally and continue to improve the customer experience, doing so in under increased concern with public health and safety.
Integrating data into the fabric of transport operations provides more than operational benefits. It can improve strategic decision-making and help operators get the best value from their budgets. The best way to make informed decisions is to access and utilize every information resource available. Analytics and automation can deliver that information, and those insights, quickly and cost-effectively.
What is the station of the future?
By partnering with BAI Communications, transit authorities can become the catalyst for creating connected cities. Becoming a conduit for high-capacity, high-availability, multi-use communications networks and enabling city-wide connectivity and economic growth.
Take a walk through our ‘station of the future,’ and see how the support of IoT and data-driven solutions can further benefit the passenger experience, strengthen your operational capability, and help you prepare for the introduction of 5G.