The station of the future is the future of public transport

From rebuilding trust in public safety to assisting operators to provide live information updates, the station of the future’s pervasive connectivity and the capabilities this enables is indeed the future of public transport.

The station of the future is set to play a critical role in helping businesses and societies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for public transport will return as businesses and economies recover but rebuilding public confidence in safe travel will be critical. Careful investment in networking, communications, and data technologies will help fast-track the process.

Over this blog series, we have looked at many technologies and solutions, including:

  • Stations and data: using data to improve operations, including automated passenger counting, origin-destination analysis and privacy protections.
  • Connectivity: using agile operations and flexible planning systems to manage COVID-19 risks and rebuild commuter confidence.
  • Proactive monitoring: using video analytics, asset monitoring and tracking, environmental monitoring and smart keys, doors and access control to improve service, safety and efficiency.
  • Analytics and automation: including video analytics and smart automation to generate business intelligence and improve the customer experience quickly and cost effectively.
  • Customer experience: using customer service robots and virtual information kiosks, digital displays and smart advertising ecosystems to provide personalised apps and information feeds.
  • Smart transit: applications running over a smart transit network can convert individual stations and vehicles into smart hubs with monitoring, automation and real-time management, for better service and a better experience.

Each individual solution is transformative, but none on their own makes a station of the future – that requires something more.

Data makes the difference

When we talk about the ‘station of the future’ we are talking about a transit system that combines multiple technologies to create a fully integrated, operationally flexible and customer-focused transport network. Responsive to changing needs, adaptable to new situations, and above all, driven by continuous streams of data.

Data is the critical ingredient and with continuous connectivity, real-time data feeds are possible. These feeds are the foundation for most of the technologies described throughout the series. Combined with analytics and apps, they can transform public transport operations.

Already we see these technologies operating around the world:

  • In Hong Kong, BAI is testing 5G radiating cables in tunnels for the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Shatin–Central Link. The project uses a distributed antenna system (DAS) that will facilitate future 5G upgrades with minimal disruption and at a low cost.
  • In Toronto, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) recently deployed a BAI-designed data analytics solution that provides insights into foot traffic and anticipated crowding throughout the system. The TTC’s ability to analyse, understand, and action data will help it better respond to customer needs.
  • New York: Transit Wireless (majority-owned by BAI) has built five data centres across the five Boroughs to provide cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity to subway riders. As transport authorities deploy sensors and Internet of Things devices, the network will be ready to serve content and services from the network’s edge.

BAI’s 2020 Connectivity outlook report showed that, around the world, transit riders expect to have seamless mobile coverage as they travel. The good news is that they support the measures needed to make it reality; including government investment in network infrastructure generally (91%), in 5G capabilities specifically (83%), and use of their anonymised data to improve transport operations (81%).

Building your station of the future

We believe that governments and transit authorities should invest now in the data infrastructure they will need to help their economies and operations recover.

Agility and flexibility will be the watchwords as workers, businesses, cities, and nations recover from the pandemic. And there is no better way to become agile than to adopt a ‘data first’ strategy. Accurate, real-time information combined with intuitive analytics and business intelligence are invaluable tools for building safer and more reliable, responsive, and efficient public transport services.

What is the station of the future?

By partnering with BAI Communications, transit authorities can become the catalyst for creating connected cities; enabling connectivity and economic growth through the provision of a high-capacity, high-availability, multi-use communications network.

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.