There’s an old saying in the rail industry that since the first journey, passengers have only ever really wanted three things – the train to be on time, to find a seat and the ticket to be inexpensive. This is still true today, but I think we can now add a fourth – the ability to access the internet for work or entertainment purposes whilst on-board. In a few short years, access to a network has moved from a rare but welcome (though sometimes costly) addition to a journey to being an essential and expected part of any trip. Keen to investigate more about this development and to get some insight into where this technology is heading next, our editor Luke Upton, spent some time with the team at Axinom. A global software solution provider with more than 15 years of experience, they have extensive technical expertise in digital rights management, content management and delivery solutions for devices for rail staff and passengers and are the perfect guide to this exciting area.
Increasing levels of public transport usage and the development and expansion of transit networks are of key importance to any society’s growth and prosperity. An integrated and futureproof transit system can support job creation, develop new sectors of economic growth and innovation, regenerate communities and help strengthen environmental protection.
However, in a fast moving interconnected world, public transport needs to not just meet but exceed the demands of the 21st century passenger. We asked Ralph Wagner of Axinom, what 21st century passengers are looking for; “Passengers now need to be connected whilst on public transport and expect to have access to all sorts of content wherever they are. They want to stay productive and do some work or simply sit back, have some fun and watch a favourite TV show or the latest blockbuster from Hollywood as they travel to their destination.”
Video: Ralph Wagner and Sara Pepic of Axinom talk about their work in the rail industry, the 21st century passenger and their plans for SmartRail Europe 2016.
The initial wave of on-board entertainment technologies aimed at rail passengers were based on a fixed technology, often in the back of the seat ahead of you, similar to those found on airlines. But the development of tablets and other hand held technologies quickly overtook the capabilities of those providers, and the few rail operators who installed them have largely had them removed.
Axinom ( @ ) have overcome the challenge of this delivery by developing products that allow service providers to create, manage and maintain the next generation of in-train entertainment, infotainment, e-commerce, and connectivity services in a simplified, cost effective, and secure way.
One of the main obstacles to the delivery is what happens when a large number of train passengers all want to stream the latest Game of Thrones episode, or a big football match? The demand can overwhelm the network and cause patchy or non-existent service.
Ralph on how this challenge can be overcome; “We tackle this problem by combining the internet connection with local delivery from on-train storage. A lot of on-demand content like movies and TV shows can be pre-loaded to the train server. When there is a live event, like a football match we stream it from the internet to the train, but only once, and then redistribute it to all the viewers. Our portfolio supports the process of both the management and deployment of content and services to an unlimited number of clients. The products are built to run both on the train and in the cloud data centres so they allow service delivery on a global scale.
All the Axinom building blocks expose a comprehensive API which enables rail operators to build their own solutions on top of the products and to easily interact with 3rd party systems (e.g. ERP, recommendation engines, content provider and post production studios).
For rail operators Axinom’s set of products can significantly reduce the cost of service with optimized workflows for content management and delivery:
- Axinom Content Management System (CMS) is based on Axinom’s innovative workflow engine which ensures secure and scalable handling of all types of content items (videos, audio, advertising, products, magazines, news, payment transactions, etc.) and services while supporting delivery to different client platforms (Web browsers and mobile applications for smartphones and tablets on all client OS platforms including Windows, iOS, and Android).
- Axinom Content Delivery System (CDS) allows incremental, secure, and robust bidirectional content synchronisation using standardised communication protocols and mediums such as Cellular 3G / 4G, wireless Access, satellite, and physical storage devices like USB sticks and SSDs. Axinom CDS does not depend on permanent internet connection allowing disconnected synchronization scenarios.
- Axinom Digital Rights Management (DRM) enables customers to target a wide range of client OS platforms with a single service by simultaneously supporting multiple DRM technologies. It is the first multi-DRM product that can operate in a disconnected fashion enabling premium video on board of the train.
Fast growing tablet ownership, connected to superfast Wi-Fi has led to huge potential in developing passenger entertainment systems. It improves passenger experience, making rail a more attractive proposition than air or road and thus boosting passenger numbers and revenue. And for operators, as well as happier passengers, it can also potentially offer additional revenue opportunities in providing bespoke entertainment packages to travellers.
To conclude I ask Ralph how his team keeps pace with such a fast moving area of the rail industry; “It’s essential that we do. The Axinom platform approach keeps a constant consideration of the latest innovation. We have more than 100 employees across Europe and the USA and we work across other industries such as aerospace, media and retail to ensure we profit from a wide variety of technical influences. And in our fast moving sector, we are also capable of a quick launch of new services. We are proud to offer the rail industry consulting, architecture, software development, and operating services all aimed at improving the passenger experience, and ensuring operators are able to grow and thrive in our growing multi-platform IT environment and offer on-demand and live content to any device.”
Axinom are an Exhibitor at SmartRail Europe (19-20 April 2016, Amsterdam, Netherlands) and would be delighted to meet you at Stand A3. Further details about Axinom can be found here. To find out more about Axinom’s award-winning CMS visit here and all about their highly scalable multi-DRM service can be found here.