London Tech Week kicks off on June 10th, with the focus this year on how access to technology can have a positive impact on society and business.

One of the areas which technology has the power to revolutionise is the delivery of public services, in everything from healthcare to transport. Connected transport systems can create city-wide networks that enable greater efficiency and safer commuter experiences. Technological advances in on-board connectivity can also play a major role in increasing individual and collective productivity, as well as offering a potential rail industry boost.

In this article, Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, discusses how the company is working with its global partners to deliver better connectivity for passengers on transport networks around the world.

A proven track record

Continuous connectivity can transform cities, helping citizens to be more productive, and organisations to innovate and prosper. For example, the benefits of seamless on-board connectivity are already being enjoyed by rail users in Toronto, where BAI used its experience and leading expertise to roll out reliable, high-performance cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity across 75 stations.

Passengers now enjoy safer and more productive journeys. “So instead of having an hour and a half commute where I can’t do anything, I’m able to do all of my school work in that time,” one Toronto rail* user told BAI recently. Another passenger in Toronto highlighted the importance of cutting-edge technology, saying: “If I had to choose, I’d rather have connectivity on my commute than a seat.”

These testimonials were reinforced by BAI’s recent survey, the Continuous connectivity research report. The global research, which included 2,538 rail users across five cities, found 92% of commuters believed they would benefit if rail networks evolved in the future. In Toronto, 95% of rail users believe that technological advancements in metropolitan areas, which improve public transport, connectivity, help ease traffic or improve the environment, are important.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in customer demand for on-board connectivity in recent years,” says Billy. “Commuter expectations of their rail networks are increasing and many of these expectations require continuous connectivity to enable innovative transport solutions. Passengers want to keep in contact with friends and family without interruption and BAI is working hard to bring this state-of-the-art technology to a number of global cities.”

Looking ahead

In the future, rail networks will be able to offer faster, more productive and safer journeys. For example, the installation of 5G will see commuters be able to take advantage of greater band width to stream and swipe without interruption as they board and alight from trains. Buffering and loading pages will be a problem of the past.

“We want to ensure our platforms keep pace with developments, for example 5G,” Billy says. “Whatever we put in place today needs to be scalable and adaptable, and our long-term approach allows for innovation to be built in.”

Future technology will also see faster and more efficient real time updates about departures and delays, something which 58% of global respondents said they would like to see in the Continuous connectivity research report. Around 44% of respondents also said their ideal journey would incorporate mechanisms to ensure better safety.

“I’m really excited about the future of connectivity,” Billy says. “Innovative transport systems are a defining feature of smart, world-class cities, and our experience and research has shown us that access to technology can have a profoundly positive impact on individuals and businesses. There are infinite possibilities for progress and BAI is looking forward to joining the conversations about innovation that emerge from London Tech Week this year.”

* Source: Commuter quote, Toronto Transit Commission, TTC, 2019.