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.

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Station of the future concepts
Enabling technologies
Smart ticketing
Safety, security and customer service robots
Digital displays and lighting
Asset monitoring
Smart security cameras and audio sensors
Smart, integrated advertising ecosystems
Smart keys
Smart doors, escalators and elevators
Data driven transit operations management
Environmental monitoring
Virtual help/info kiosks
Small cells street furniture
Cell tower macro coverage
On-board Wi-Fi
Digital screens and passenger information systems
Help point
Station cellular and Wi-Fi
Fare payment connectivity
Fibre optic payment
Tunnel cellular coverage
Cellular trackside network
On-board Wi-Fi
Base station hotel
In-building cellular coverage
  • Smart ticketing

    TECHNOLOGY OPTIONS

    • Biometric ticket barriers
    • Bluetooth connectivity
    • Wi-Fi

    USE CASES

    • Walk in and out stations without barriers – smart ticketing charges customer fare directly
    • Ticket system connected to app, to facilitate accurate, seamless fare calculation and entry/exit
  • Safety, security and customer service robots

    Technology options

    • Artificial intelligence
    • Robotics

    Use cases

    • Detect and prevent criminal activity
    • Help the sick and injured
    • Investigate unattended baggage/items
    • Return and retrieve lost goods
    • Provide directions and answer FAQs
  • Digital displays and lighting

    Technology options

    • Billboards and digital displays
    • Lights synced with operational network
    • QR codes

    Use cases

    • Provide interactive billboards/signs that provide information about transit (e.g. timetables, congestion)
    • Sync lights with operational command (e.g. flashing arrows pointing to exit during emergency)
    • Targeted advertising use cases using digital displays
  • Asset monitoring

    Technology options

    • Sensors in assets connected to operational system

    Use cases

    • Monitor and track when trashcans are full/need emptying
    • Flag staff when assets need repairing (e.g. track related items)
    • Monitor location of assets with GPS connected via Wi-Fi
  • Smart security cameras and audio sensors

    Technology options

    • Artificial intelligence
    • Biometric security cameras
    • Audio sensors

    Use cases

    • Reduce crime, violence and assault
    • Identify lost personnel
    • Identify lost baggage
    • Utilise audio sensors in private/vulnerable areas (e.g. bathrooms)
  • Smart, integrated advertising ecosystems

    Technology options

    • Digital billboards
    • QR codes

    Use cases

    • Create virtual retail spaces along walls/metro door barriers/in train where e-commerce retailers can put items where customers scan to purchase
  • Smart keys

    Technology options

    • Bluetooth
    • RFID tags
    • Wi-Fi connectivity

    Use cases

    • Allow access for staff/contractors with one centralised access card
    • Grant and control different access levels for various staff/contractors from centralised, internal systems
  • Smart doors, escalators and elevators

    Technology options

    • Sensors

    Use cases

    • Flag when asset requires attention – suggest best time for maintenance by tracking when it is least used
    • Smart elevators detect which floor customers are on automatically, to increase station accessibility
  • Data driven transit operations management

    Technology options

    • Artificial intelligence (AI)
    • Data from sensors

    Use cases

    • Accumulate data from IoT – AI to provide predictive operational scenarios and decisions
    • Forecast operational staff scheduling, train scheduling, station crowd management, station layout planning
  • Environmental monitoring

    Technology options

    • Air quality sensors
    • Audio sensors
    • Smart thermometers

    Use cases

    • Monitor temperature changes to understand impacts on crowd, health/safety of staff and customers, and transit assets (e.g. track expansion from heat), then conduct predictive analysis to provide solutions to mitigate risks
  • Virtual help/info kiosks

    Technology options

    • Digital, interactive displays

    Use cases

    • Provide available help points to allow customers to find directions, read FAQs during unattended/off peak hours, or when customer service rep is unavailable to attend immediately

Find out more about our on-board solutions

Visit Transit of the future

Welcome to the station of the future

Station of the future 11 Oct 2021

Train stations and connectivity: the future is here already

As technology continues to evolve, city officials are leveraging a plethora of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions driven by the availability of data to make their cities even smarter. In the transit space, BAI Communications is working with transit authorities to do the same, deploying technologies to create the ‘station of the future’.

By using IoT and data-driven solutions, transit authorities are discovering they can enhance the passenger experience, strengthen their operational capabilities and help prepare for new technologies (such as the introduction of 5G). Such measures will be even more important in a post-COVID world.

As the station of the future evolves, we, at BAI Communications, are already seeing the benefits emerge. We have delivered robust communications infrastructure inside some of the world’s busiest subway systems, which allows for the delivery of Wi-Fi, IP and cellular connectivity. Now we are building on this infrastructure to deliver additional value to our customers, enabling a new application: data-driven transit operations management.

Smart ticketing

In busy stations, increased public transport patronage can lead to station congestion, especially at peak travel times. Fare gates can become bottlenecks, and fare evasion can be a constant concern for transit authorities.

Smart ticketing systems can assist with solving both these problems. By combining biometric ticket barriers, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other technologies to remove physical barriers, customers can walk in and out of stations freely. This can help reduce congestion, make it easier to deter fare evasion and, most importantly, manage passenger volumes and social distancing as commuters return to their offices as we recover from the COVID pandemic.

The technology needed to make this a reality is already in use, bringing the large-scale adoption of smart ticketing closer. We are already seeing similar technology being used by Amazon for their walk-in, walk-out storefronts. Two public transport rollouts are imminent. In Australia, the New South Wales (NSW) state government is planning to make biometrics a central part of its future transport plans, with passengers being scanned by facial recognition systems for automatic payments. In Japan, the Osaka Metro started testing smart ticketing technology in January.

Smart security

Commuters need to feel safe as they travel, and transit authorities want to ensure their safety at all times. However, continually monitoring trains and stations in all areas at all times can be incredibly difficult.

When deployed with care, and with full regard to privacy and data security, smart security cameras are a practical, cost-effective solution. Transit authorities can use biometric data (such as face or voice recognition) and artificial intelligence to identify risks and proactively organise responses. Staff can then be stationed in areas of potential risk (for example, in response to cameras detecting suspicious movements or behaviours), to further improve passenger safety and optimise incident response times.

But these benefits are just the beginning. Smart, connected cameras and security systems can also:

  • identify and secure lost items
  • assist lost travellers, such as a child that has become separated from its parents
  • coordinate emergency responders (for example, directing ambulance staff to the right platform to help a passenger suffering a health problem).

Transit authorities are already moving in this direction, with biometric security cameras successfully trialled in Berlin transit stations.

Asset monitoring

Subway systems are large entities, with track, platforms, team members and rolling stock spread over large areas. Knowing where assets and staff are at any given time can be mission-critical, but without connected systems, is very tough.

Deploying IoT sensors on operational assets (mobile and otherwise) creates a steady data flow that can solve practical problems. For example, staff can be provided with IoT tags to monitor their safety. If they’re doing technical work, IoT-connected cameras and sensors can enable them to remotely connect with experts and technical information to help them complete their jobs.

Physical assets – from rolling stock to escalators to network hardware – can be monitored and scheduled for preventative maintenance before service interruptions and costly repairs are required. Their locations can be tracked in real-time, to assist with daily operations and keep customers informed about arrival and departure times. Other assets can provide data about their condition and operational status.

Around the world, asset monitoring systems are already delivering benefits. At Singapore’s Changi Airport, ‘big belly’ smart bins send alerts as they fill up, ensuring they never overflow. In Germany, Deutsche Bahn tracks its rolling stock by GPS, as does Transport for NSW in Australia.

Data-driven transit

Alone or in combination – but ideally in combination – the technologies mentioned above contribute to creating a data-driven transit system. Using data from sensors to feed analytics and AI, operations can become predictive and proactive. Transit authorities can use them to build stations of the future, modelling different operational scenarios, forecasting staff and service schedules, optimising passenger movements and planning better station, platform and even network configurations.

We already see data-driven transit solutions in use. In Toronto, BAI presented a data analytics solution to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) that would give their operations team access to BAI’s device association data. The applications, developed by BAI, provide insights into:

  • foot traffic at stations
  • crowding conditions
  • origin-destination patterns through the system.

The greater the TTC’s ability is to analyse, understand and act on data related to passenger flow, the more flexible and efficient it can be in meeting customer needs. Augmenting BAI’s device association data with IoT systems can help bolster the solution’s accuracy and effectiveness.

In Japan, JR West Rail is testing an AI-based system to determine staff and train schedules, while in the Netherlands, NS Rail is trialling AI to predict train driving and inspection scenarios.

Connectivity offers so much more than ‘just’ internet access for staff and travellers. As we tease out its possibilities, we realise its potential to dramatically transform – and improve – public transport operations, safety and efficiency. We’re excited to be building this future.

To learn more, visit our virtual tour of the station of the future.

Sign up to our blog series and take a walk through the station of the future.

Learn how IoT and data driven services can work to enhance customer experience and operational capability.

Station of the future: data-driven solutions

Station of the future 16 Dec 2020

Train stations and data: The future is already here

The ‘station of the future’ is smart, connected and data-driven. By combining Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, internet of things (IoT) sensors and other technologies, transit authorities can gather data and optimise operations. They can use data to develop schedules, adopt a proactive and preventive approach to maintenance, enhance security and transform the customer experience. As economies around the world recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, these capabilities will be some of the vital tools required for rebuilding customer confidence and ensure operational flexibility to meet any new contingencies.

Transit authorities around the world are already using connected technologies. Examples include smart ticketing, biometric security, asset monitoring and more. These are already improving safety, reducing costs and minimising service delays. The next step is to bring these different services and technologies together into a cohesive whole.

BAI Communications works closely with its partners to modernise their transport systems. Some of our solutions include using anonymised association data (gathered when a device connects to a Wi-Fi network) to help automate passenger counting, alleviate platform congestion, improve safety and gain insights into how passengers are traversing the subway system.

Using data to improve transit systems

With large numbers of commuters using transit systems daily, the need for visibility into ‘on-the-ground’ conditions to improve safety and operational efficiency is growing.

Most commuters carry a mobile device (typically a smartphone) that joins different Wi-Fi access points as it travels across the rail network. Transit operators can gather and anonymise the mobile association data each connection generates.

Combining this data with information from other sources within the system – such as smart cameras and sensor-equipped rolling stock – results in rich streams of information that authorities can use to optimise their operations. For example, the data helps authorities to predict, or to know:

Raptors - in blog image

Automated passenger counts for optimal flow and route planning

Gathering real-time information on the number of devices within a subway system is difficult. It must be fast, accurate, and at sufficient scale to generate meaningful analytics. But digital connectivity makes it easy.

In the past, transit authorities would deploy workers once a year to count commuters entering and exiting stations manually, using clickers. This approach resulted in some inaccuracies during busy periods, was labour intensive and resulted in delays collecting and tabulating the data. It also didn’t take into account factors such as time of day, weather conditions, service delays and different station locations.

Using anonymised mobile association data, transit authorities, such as the Toronto Transit Commission, can access a detailed picture of passenger movements every 15 minutes. This data simplifies planning for day-to-day operations. It also informs surge planning – for cultural and sporting events – and contingency planning for fires or other disasters.

Preventing overcrowding and platform congestion

Accurate passenger information has many uses. Chief among them is managing overcrowding and platform congestion. Overcrowded platforms and stations can quickly become uncomfortable or even dangerous, whether due to service delays, inclement weather or other causes.

Transit authorities can use device association data to help manage such congestion more effectively, allocating resources such as support staff or extra vehicles to meet passenger needs. They can resolve crowding issues before conditions become hazardous. Future uses include using cameras and smart passenger gates to monitor traffic flows into and out of a station.

Access to this type of information can also help transit authorities proactively communicate information to passengers and provide regular schedule and progress updates to clear crowds as efficiently as possible.

Origin-destination analysis

In large cities like New York or London, there may be a dozen or more ways for a commuter to get from point A to point B, making it difficult for transport operators to optimise traffic flows.

Device association data can do more than present real-time information on foot traffic within stations; it can also identify patterns of movement through the entire network. By understanding the paths taken through the subway system, transit authorities can ‘nudge’ commuters towards the most-efficient routes. Passengers can enjoy a simpler, safer and faster trip, while the operators gain efficiencies of scale and can further optimise their services.

The importance of privacy

The starting point for data gathering is to address the profoundly and rightly held concerns many people have about companies and government bodies accessing their information.

BAI takes data privacy seriously, and we have implemented numerous security measures to protect the user information we gather, following industry best practices. Based on the number of devices connected, algorithms calculate overall ridership. All data is handled anonymously and in aggregate. We use salting and hashing to ensure all data is fully encrypted and obfuscated. While we do not store any personally identifiable information, we treat all our data with the same stringent privacy protections that would be required if we did.

Building a better future with data

These applications represent just a few of the capabilities data-driven systems provide. Other possibilities include:

  • Individualised notifications: To inform commuters about service changes or interruptions to their chosen or most common trips.
  • Video analytics: To transform video feeds into intelligent data to help protect passengers and staff across the entire network.
  • Environmental monitoring: To monitor and improve air quality, reduce noise pollution, and more.
  • Preventive maintenance: To massively reduce costs and service disruptions.

We will explore these solutions in future blogs. For now, our focus is on further developing our suite of sophisticated data solutions to deliver on transit optimisation such as cost reduction, efficiency and customer experience improvements.

The future is here already – and BAI Communications is proud to be helping transit organisations around the world make it a reality.

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.

Sign up to our blog series and take a walk through the station of the future.

Learn how IoT and data driven services can work to enhance customer experience and operational capability.

Station of the future: COVID-ready

Station of the future 23 Oct 2021

Connectivity and COVID: how networks can help rebuild trust in public transport

As the world adapts to the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, communications networks play an important part in rebuilding commuter confidence in mass transport services. Access to real-time information can make it easier for rail networks to operate safely and efficiently. It will also help commuters to trust that new safety measures, like passenger limits, will be implemented.

As economies around the world begin to recover, ridership numbers will steadily rebound, and new work patterns will emerge for rail operators. Agile, responsive, and data-driven public transport services can help restore travellers’ confidence in three ways:

  • Real-time monitoring and alerts will provide operational support and keep customers informed about their services.
  • Agile systems will allow operators to respond quickly to emerging or unexpected situations.
  • Flexible planning will ensure contingency measures are backed by objective data and rigorous analytics.

Monitoring and alerts

Rail passengers expect timely information about crowding, service status and connections, and even weather and traffic notifications.

Communications infrastructure with robust data management platforms allow transport operators to monitor station conditions and service status to keep commuters updated with relevant information. It is important for transport authorities to evolve their apps on all devices, so they include passenger flow information to help with social distancing measures.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is using BAI Communications’ anonymised Wi-Fi device association data to help operators manage and monitor overcrowding conditions and inform commuters of service adjustments in near real-time. Not only does this help improve operational efficiencies but it also creates a sense of security for commuters.

Agile operations

When transport operators demonstrate that they can monitor and respond quickly to unexpected events, commuters can feel more secure in using public transport. Whether it is a delayed train, a passenger in need or an unexpected load on the system, a fast and effective response helps strengthen public trust.

One example we have seen globally is Sydney Trains staff, and their use of an occupancy reporting app. It combines staff-entered passenger number estimates with data collected from rolling stock to pre-empt crowding and keep passengers safe.

Such systems rely heavily on fast and secure data flows from mobile apps as well as from fixed and mobile sensors (on ticket gates, rolling stock and other infrastructure). Newer technologies, such as 5G wireless and Wi-Fi 6, will provide significant performance and reliability increases. These in turn will allow operators to improve their speed and quality of response to emerging situations.

Flexible planning

Access to network data allows transport authorities to create contingency plans, schedule additional services, deploy them as needed and communicate adjusted services or schedules to customers as changes take place.

Every public transport operator plans for weekday morning and afternoon peaks as workers travel to and from their jobs. But what happens when unexpected peaks occur? Access to network data can help transit operators anticipate and manage large influxes of commuter traffic, as seen last year (2019), when the Toronto Raptors won their first NBA basketball championship.

With millions of fans surging into the city for the championship celebrations, the TTC had to quickly rise to the challenge of facilitating movement for Raptors fans and residents alike. Trends identified through BAI’s network data could have helped transit authorities make faster, better informed decisions during celebrations and guide resource allocation for the future. These insights can assist efforts to harmonise transport and other services across the city.

Leveraging the power of transport communications networks

In today’s challenging times, rebuilding commuter confidence, and increasing ridership is largely a matter of trust. For rail operators, real-time system monitoring, agile responses, and data-based transport plans are the building blocks of public trust and confidence. If transport authorities can optimise services using the information available, commuters can feel more comfortable using public transportation.

Now, more than ever, agility, adaptability, and active information sharing, supported by a robust communications network, will be the foundation of ridership recovery efforts for transport authorities.

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.

Sign up to our blog series and take a walk through the station of the future.

Learn how IoT and data driven services can work to enhance customer experience and operational capability.

Station of the future: pro-active monitoring

Blog Station of the future 30 Dec 2020

Monitor, manage, mitigate: How data is transforming transit operations

Smart, connected and data-driven transit networks can leverage analytics to do much more than manage and optimise traffic flows and day-to-day operations. This data can also be used to monitor environmental factors and transform maintenance operations from schedule-based and reactive to data-based and proactive.

Across the globe, transit authorities are using Internet of Things (IoT)-connected sensors to monitor conditions and equipment to help maximise operational efficiency. The data generated can drive decisions about scheduling, maintenance, strategic planning, and day-to-day operations.

As we transition towards the station of the future, the future of public transport will be guided by this real-time data to proactively improve safety, convenience, operational efficiency, and strategic planning. Data-based solutions, including video analytics, asset management, environmental monitoring, and smart systems for access control will deliver measurable, real-world benefits to commuters and operators alike.

Video analytics

Video analytics has become one of the most cost-effective ways to monitor stations and public spaces. Cameras are relatively inexpensive and, once connected, can provide the inputs required for machine learning systems to analyse specific patterns and activities.

With network-connected cameras feeding data into a central repository, it becomes relatively simple to create a machine learning model that recognises behavioural patterns. If the system predicts that someone is at risk, it can alert platform staff as needed.

Another application for video analytics is access control. A video analytics system can monitor restricted areas to ensure only appropriate people are accessing them. Is the person entering wearing a high-visibility vest or transit authority uniform and equipment? If not, the system can send an alert so staff can take appropriate action.

Asset monitoring and tracking

Subway systems have thousands, if not tens of thousands, of assets that must be monitored, managed, and maintained. Traditionally this is a labour-intensive task, often relying on fixed schedules for inspection and evaluation.

Stations of the future use multiple sensors to monitor and track assets, including the transit authority’s: Rolling stock, tracks, signals, power, drainage, communications network, and other equipment (such as cars, air conditioning systems or mobile power generators).

Adding IoT-connected devices to the network creates real-time data feeds that can highlight potential problems, schedule maintenance, deploy technicians and more.

Transit operators can monitor escalators, elevators, and train doors to detect the signs of imminent failure. These include motors that are not functioning consistently or moving parts that are wearing. Pre-emptive repairs can avoid costly disruptions, such as having to empty an entire train due to a faulty door or forcing commuters to use stairs due to a faulty escalator or elevator.

Connected systems can also track mobile assets to ensure their location is known for both operational and security purposes. Data from equipment, such as power generators, can tell operators whether a unit is in the right place and functioning as required. Similarly, data from rolling stock can be used to track usage, maintenance requirements and service status.

Environmental monitoring

Managing a subway system’s physical environment is critical to ensuring passenger and staff safety. Transit authorities spend significant sums every year to monitor environmental factors such as: Temperature, lighting, humidity, and air quality across the system.

Typically, such environmental studies are costly, are conducted over days or weeks and rarely involve all transit stations.

A more efficient alternative is to install network-connected sensors across the transit system. This monitoring infrastructure can provide data all day, every day, from every connected location. The cost savings are considerable, and the results – in terms of the data’s completeness and value over time – superior.

The data gathered makes it possible to understand the transit network’s environmental condition at different times of the day, week, and year. Operators can identify trends and optimise services and operations. They can also ensure the environment is safe, efficiently serviced and meets or exceeds all regulatory requirements.

Smart keys, doors, and access control

Access control is critical for transit authorities. Operational personnel often invest heavily in providing team members with specially made physical keys or tokens (such as RFID tags). Inevitably, some of these keys or tokens will be misplaced, stolen, or otherwise lost, resulting in increased costs as full sets of keys need to be replaced.

Instead, an access control app can be downloaded onto a smartphone or other mobile device and used to communicate with sensor-enabled doors and gates. The app connects to the lock through Wi-Fi and grants access. It is similar to RFID keys but without the capital and operational expenses of procuring, securing, and maintaining a fleet of keys.

A further benefit is that connected sensors can provide detailed information about site access, such as time of entry and exit. This information improves worker safety – if a worker enters a site but does not leave within the expected time, then co-workers can be alerted. It also allows for time and task analysis to further optimise operations, by more accurate scheduling of as maintenance and inspections.

Data is the solution

The station of the future is more than just an idea: it is a growing suite of technology-driven possibilities. Alone or (ideally) together, they can streamline operations, create new revenue and partnership opportunities, and radically transform the customer experience.

BAI Communications is helping transit authorities around the world deploy these solutions. Data-backed business intelligence can help position them to rise to new challenges and embrace new possibilities.

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.

Sign up to our blog series and take a walk through the station of the future.

Learn how IoT and data driven services can work to enhance customer experience and operational capability.

Station of the future: analytics and automation

Station of the future 14 Oct 2021

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

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. Behavioural 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.

Smart automation

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 judgements.

Business intelligence

Organisations 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 optimise operational efficiency. Such insights might address passenger flows, service schedules, or interfaces with other transport systems.

These insights can go beyond optimising efficiency. They can reveal new business opportunities, new ways to manage costs and new strategies to help position an organisation 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 utilise 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.

Sign up to our blog series and take a walk through the station of the future.

Learn how IoT and data driven services can work to enhance customer experience and operational capability.

Station of the future: customer experience

Station of the future 13 Jan 2021

How robots, VR and Li-Fi are transforming the public transport customer experience

Commuters are the reason why public transport systems exist. How, then, can the station of the future make their experience better and encourage higher patronage?

Many advanced, data-driven technologies are already at work in transit systems around the world. Real-time service updates, contactless ticketing and more are making the customer experience increasingly frictionless. Further transforming the customer experience is critical to restoring ridership around the globe. This restoration will require seamless integration of end-to-end services to assist and inform customers at every stage of their journey.

Four technologies stand out as offering unique benefits to customers and operators alike: robots, digital displays, integrated advertising and virtual reality.

Safety, security and customer service robots

Software robots, such as customer service chatbots, as well as the ‘bots’ used in robotic process automation (RPA), have been helping customers for years. More recently, transit operators have begun deploying their physical counterparts.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) deployed a Vapourised Hydrogen Peroxide Robot to deep-clean and decontaminate train compartments and stations. These cleanings – in one of the world’s busiest public transport systems – have been highly effective at maintaining public trust in the system’s safety. To date, no coronavirus cases in Hong Kong have been traced to contacts on the MTR.

The robots’ use cases could be extended using internet of things (IoT) sensors, Wi-Fi and 5G for more precise control over more delicate tasks. Human safety can also be enhanced. With cameras, robotic arms and rough-terrain capabilities, robots could be deployed quickly into hazardous environments such as confined spaces.

Finally, these cleaning robots could become multi-functional. Combined cleaning and customer experience robots could roam their networks, assisting passengers and maintaining hygiene as they go.

Digital displays and lighting

There are two important innovations in the lighting space: Li-Fi and naked-eye 3D.

Li-Fi is light fidelity – data transmission that uses light, not radio waves. Its key advantages include its low-cost, high-data transmission rate (up to 224 Gbps), enormous spectrum bandwidth (around 10,000 times that of the radio spectrum) and freedom from electromagnetic hazards and interactions. Li-Fi emitters can also provide lighting as their data pulses are imperceptible to human vision.

Potential uses include transmitting in-train video cameras’ footage in seconds as they pass by a base station, or deploying mobile apps that connect to IoT devices fitted with a light sensor for fast, high-speed connectivity to timetable updates and other services.

Naked-eye 3D uses displays that do not require viewers to wear special glasses. These displays could show passengers 3D models of trains and stations, provide more accurate directions and travel guides, and make information more easily accessible.

Many transit operators are already using digital displays to provide real-time service information. This information could include 3D images showing escalators, ticketing gates, alternative services and the quickest ways to enter or exit the station.

Transparent OLED displays can be fitted to carriage windows, providing real-time schedule updates and other information, such as weather, news, transfers and announcements. Digital displays can be further augmented with cameras or biometric sensors to identify passengers and passers-by. The information gathered can then be used to tailor services to individual travellers, such as identifying an elderly passenger and helping them navigate a station or board a train.

Smart, integrated advertising ecosystems

Rail networks offer advertisers a captive audience – but we know that traditional ‘push’ advertising is becoming less and less effective. Enhancing the offer with an intelligent advertising ecosystem can help reverse that trend. Allowing users to opt-in to personalised services can transform how advertisers communicate with their markets and offer operators a meaningful revenue stream.

Smart displays and biometrics sensors could identify passengers travelling to a sporting event, for example. Depending on the team colours the system detects, it can send different offers. Special promotions can use near-field communications (NFC) or QR codes to drive further customer engagement.

With AI and deep learning, such systems can understand a user’s ‘digital footprint’. This footprint includes gender, age group, hobbies and topics of interest, travel patterns, preferences and more. With connections to other service providers, smart systems can combine data to automatically generate relevant offers. Travellers could be reminded to collect their dry cleaning, incentivised to buy electrolyte drinks after visiting the gym or have a ride car arranged to meet them when they exit a station.

Virtual help and information kiosks

Queuing for service at an information counter is a frustrating experience. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies make it possible for passengers to receive information anywhere, anytime without queuing.

Managed by AI and a centralised team, information kiosks can optimise team resources and improve the customer experience. Simply downloading an app to a mobile device (or, in future, to smart glasses or contact lenses) would enable passengers to receive tailored information.

AR can offer real-time directions to help guide passengers to their desired location (gate, platform, shop or service). It can also guide passengers to their next train’s exact stopping location so they can pre-gather in the proper position, speeding up the boarding process.

VR, in combination with an AI agent, can provide all services currently available at an information counter. Enquiry for information, ticket booking, payment and refund are all feasible via an AI agent on a passenger’s device.

All these technologies – and more – are ready to transform the customer experience in public transport systems today. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has never been more critical to reassure commuters that public transport is safe, convenient and secure. There can be little doubt that the economic recovery from the pandemic will be customer experience led.

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.

Sign up to our blog series and take a walk through the station of the future.

Learn how IoT and data driven services can work to enhance customer experience and operational capability.

Station of the future: the business case for smart transit

Station of the future 20 Jan 2021

Transit authorities took their first step toward creating the ‘station of the future’ when they brought internet connectivity to their transport systems, meeting riders’ expectations to message, stream and game on the go.

But consumer Wi-Fi is only part of the opportunity available. Operators can cut costs, gain agility and attract more riders by converting the high-capacity, highly available connectivity already deployed into a single, multipurpose platform to meet operational requirements and passenger needs.

Adopting a proactive approach

Transit systems tend to be in a constant state of evolution, from route expansions and station upgrades to the adoption of new payment systems, advertising platforms, rider alerting systems and, most recently, safety protocols in response to COVID-19. While each change on its own is an improvement it can be challenging for operations teams, to manage multiple point solutions running on conflicting technologies. It is hard and time-consuming to introduce new innovations in this kind of heterogenous operations environment.

Leveraging the communications network as a multi-use platform makes it possible to gain a consolidated view of system-wide transit operations, helping eliminate technical barriers to modernization. Changing existing configurations or delivering new features is streamlined, reducing costs as there is no need to duplicate or add redundant hardware to support various applications.

Transit authorities can use the mobile internet connectivity they have already deployed to connect experiences to systems, data to devices and analytics to infrastructure, creating a dynamic sense-and-respond system that lowers costs, increases flexibility and boosts ridership.

Giving ridership a boost

While millions of people rely on public transit as their sole means of transport, an equally sizeable number of people choose cars because they are faster or more direct, or cycle or walk because they are more environmentally friendly. In much the same way online retailers compete for sales based on convenience; transit authorities must compete for riders by delivering a continually better experience at all points of their journeys.

Here again, operations analytics over the transit communications network can play a key role, helping deliver a smarter, safer and smoother experience. Aggregating anonymized data sources across various rider interaction points, such as visiting the transit authorities website or digital cards at turnstiles, can help authorities gain an understanding of how they can improve their passenger experience — and that better experience can be converted into ridership growth.

Smart transit and the station of the future

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 commuter experience — evolving them into true ‘stations of the future‘.

BAI Communications has the experience and solutions to help. Our single, converged platform lets transit operations teams integrate legacy applications, data and hardware while simultaneously rolling out new innovations and services. With the pervasive connectivity enabled by the BAI platform, transit authorities can provide smart and seamless journeys to their passengers while adding smart and sensor-driven improvements to their network operations. Through the provision of a high-capacity, high-availability, multi-use communications network, transit authorities can become the catalyst for creating connected cities.

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.

Sign up to our blog series and take a walk through the station of the future.

Learn how IoT and data driven services can work to enhance customer experience and operational capability.

What’s next for the station of the future?

Station of the future 27 Jan 2021

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.

Sign up to our blog series and take a walk through the station of the future.

Learn how IoT and data driven services can work to enhance customer experience and operational capability.