"Our software platform analyses data for the train operator to understand passenger flows, where passengers congregate at the station and to get an understanding of how people move around the station."
Smartphone technology is being used on the Melbourne rail network in a way not yet seen anywhere else in the world to measure passenger traffic and send messages direct to phones in a bid to improve safety at stations. When complete, the system which is currently undergoing testing will be able to interact with smartphone handsets by using proximity technologies to collect data from and push information to handsets. The company behind the system, YPB Systems, is working with Mebourne’s Monash University rail arm, Institute of Railway Technology (IRT), to develop CONNECT, which can count and identify passenger numbers in real time.
It is hoped that by using such technology, rail companies around the world can use the data to study travel patterns that could help reduce bottlenecks and overcrowding – such as in Tokyo, where commuter services can be incredibly busy.
Offering a viable commercial application for the technology, as well as giving customers up-to-date travel information it will also be possible for businesses to use CONNECT to engage directly with customers based on time, location and specific user characteristics.
YPB director, Gerard Eaki, said: “Our software platform analyses data for the train operator to understand passenger flows, where passengers congregate at the station and to get an understanding of how people move around the station,” adding that sensors on the train and in the station detect passengers using Bluetooth connections on mobile devices. Not just reliant on Bluetooth, CONNECT will also use near field communication, image recognition and Wi-Fi.
Should the cloud-based data capture and delivery technology be successfully implemented in Melbourne, YPB and IRT intend to introduce it across Australia and then the international market. The technology-focused technology will represent something of a development for IRT as well as for Melbourne’s rail network; its director, Ravi Ravithara, said that untiol now the Institute has been involved primarilty in traditional rail engineering. “We will be providing solutions to the railway systems to improve their service delivery and safe operations utilising up-to-date real-time passenger information,” said Ravithara.
YPB CEO, John Houston said he believed that CONNECT technology would lead to a safer passenger experience across rail networks and would give any travel agency using it the capacity to “enable understanding of and direct connection with consumers”.
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