Ahead of the SmartMetro event in Madrid next November, we sat down with 10 industry experts in order to identify and discuss the most important and pressing issues within urban mobility, and how they could be properly covered in our upcoming event. This advisory board – made up of representatives from Alcatel Lucent, Alstom, and Egis, as well as Hitronetic, Metro de Madrid, RATP, Systra, Siemen, SNCF, and TFL – met in Paris to debate the ongoing development of next-generation technology, particularly when it came to ticketing, security, and super-fast internet connections.
Below, you’ll find a summary of the issues identified by the Advisory Board, and which will be the focus of the SmartMetro & CBTC World Congress taking place between November 25-27th, in Madrid.
Viewed as an integral part of the industry’s future, Smart Cities were a big topic of interest. The board was especially interested in autonomous vehicles that could help break down the “last mile” barrier and achieve door-to-door journeys, through the use of transport technology platforms such as City Mapper to facilitate the payment aspect of people’s journeys.
Among the benefits of that strategy is the fact such apps already have an established user base of millions of people, and their mobile platform allows the creation of bespoke tariffs for each individual journey – which can be further enhanced down the road via next-generation technologies such as face recognition.
“Now we’re thinking differently, not rigidly, how to do the last kilometre. It’s easy in Paris or London but the question is today being asked differently when going further afield. Open payment – how can I pay? You can now take your cc and pay for one trip. It’s changing mobility.”
- Stephane Sanner, Alstom
For more information about this topic and connecting with people involved with it, meet our Bronze Sponsor, Alstom at the SmartMetro Madrid event, in November 25-27th.
Improving the safety and security of the tracks and roads is always of paramount concern, and the board believes this could be achieved through a focus on integrated security control centres. Those facilities could be controlled from a central location alongside other industry sectors and operators, providing live and efficient communications in the case of a disaster, accident, or incident such as a terrorist attack. The British Transport Police infrastructure linking buses and trains in London, England, was singled out as an efficient example of such an approach.
In a side note, the integration of security monitoring tools and their collection of vast amounts of data could provide excellent opportunities to monetise data and streamline services – an area that’s being increasingly explored as a revenue stream for major operators.
“In terms of security the transport police that work alongside operators in central control centres look at all the buses and trains together – working alongside the authorities to enable them to react very quickly and assess things such as suicides and to get services moving.”
- David Price, TfL
The ever-looming arrival of 5G super-fast connectivity was an exciting topic for the Advisory Board, thanks to its potential to improve CBTC signaling and on-board bandwidth. Faster data connections would allow for safer and efficient journeys, which could translate as huge improvements in passenger experience.
On the operational side, the evolution of Operation Control Centers (OCC) would also benefit from the vastly improved internet speeds opening the door to better security monitoring, predictive maintenance, and other analytical systems. The rise of AI technology was also floated as a potential gamechanger, with the proposal that machine learning technology could potentially be used one day to adapt timetables on the fly, intensifying frequency on busier times and spreading the capacity and the traffic strain more evenly across the network.
“Today we’re able to have knowledge of where a passenger is. It’s not just about having an application or mobile and having the ability to push information to a specific group of people. If, for example, I want to to communicate with only three people on a platform then technology will enable us to do that.”
- Fernando Morales Aguirre, Metro de Madrid.
For more information about this topic and connecting to people involved with it, meet our Platinum Sponsors, Siemens in the SmartMetro Madrid event, in November 25-27th.
Mobility and accessibility
Much like many other parts of the rail and wider transport network, technology is likely to provide the answers for a section of the community for whom getting around on trains, buses and other transport infrastructure is not so straightforward:
Passengers with mobility issues and visual impairments were a very important part of the board’s concerns, as the industry is keen to improve travel experience across all stratas of society. Through the use of cutting-edge tech such as cloud storage/processing and voice recognition, passengers will soon be able to request a particular help service using smartphones and apps.
Examples highlighted by the advisory board panel included the ability among operators and station managers to provide straightforward route information, avoiding or including station infrastructure that will make their journeys easier or more pleasurable. The German train and infrastructure manufacturer, Siemens, was highlighted by the group for its mobility-assistance app that understands the constraints of rail environments and can create the best pathway for users to navigate even during peak times and periods of great congestion.
For more information about this topic and connecting to people involved with it, meet our Gold Sponsor Systra at the SmartMetro Madrid event, in November 25-27th.
The possibility of introducing flexible pricing split the room, with critics of the plans agreeing that there was a real need for peak and off-peak travel for operational purposes, while supporters touted it as good alternative to the traditional busy and quiet periods.
This issue was brought into sharp focus following the UK’s rail industry desire to shake up the existing system as part of the William Review. Making flexible ticketing (and the technology that supports it) a viable option is a strong focus, and both AI and machine learning systems are predicted to play a strong role in the future.
As part of that conversation and ahead of November’s Madrid conference, we’ll be welcoming Robert Nisbet from the RDG at the SmartRail Munich event in 17-19th June. Robert will be focusing his talk on the potential overhaul, that should it enter operation, will be a root and branch reform. Meet us there for an in-depth discussion about the future of ticketing, and book your pass to Madrid for days of content and networking related to this and all other topics covered in this article.