Smarter public transport in a post-COVID world, powered by IoT

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As more and more passengers step back onto their usual buses and trains with confidence, public transport providers are facing a range of new challenges. The “old ways” of managing passenger capacity, travel frequency and service coverage from the pre-COVID days are outdated. How do they tackle these concerns and embrace the new normal? For many, the capabilities offered by transport-based IoT are an ideal solution to a growing problem. 

The benefits of connected transport  

When the pandemic first started rippling across the globe, public transport became a crucial tool for key workers but also a difficult environment for providers to monitor and control. Smart IoT solutions deployed throughout stations and bus stops allowed for a range of powerful capabilities in the fight against the spread of Covid.  

  • Digital signage: For passengers in uncertain times, up-to-date signage provides a measure of confidence, with reassuring notices regarding capacity, departure frequency, and status of service. Delivering this key information continues to be a main focus for many companies, with routes rescheduled due to driver illness continuing to be a prominent issue currently faced by many public transport providers.  
  • Telematics: By leveraging smart vehicle tracking with IoT-powered telematics, operators are able to streamline routing based on traffic volume or road closures. Saving on time, manpower and fuel with these intelligent optimizations has been a high priority for transport companies, particularly during the past year, as traveler attendance has continued to increase, and energy/resource costs have skyrocketed.   
  • CCTV streaming and security: With guaranteed smart connectivity of the CCTV systems deployed on vehicles or in stations, providers can maintain surveillance of passengers for their safety and ensure adherence to Covid-safe protocols. In instances of incidents occurring on their routes, drivers and managers can quickly respond to the issue and make the right decisions in a timely manner. Not only does this help to protect the safety of passengers and staff, it can also be used to aid in dispute mediation, complaint resolution and accident investigation. 
  • Passenger WiFi: Essential to today’s public transport industry, passengers expect reliable and fast connectivity while traveling. Onboard WiFi may be considered a required amenity for transport networks but can become a real logistical headache for providers. Implementing an IoT solution for passenger WiFi offers some powerful management tools like data analytics, comprehensive billing, quality of service reporting, fault detection and more.  

What the future holds 

Balancing increased scrutiny and more rigorous protocols with the rising number of passengers returning to stations and vehicles will continue to be a huge challenge for public transport. While the current solutions outlined above have revolutionized the industry in a number of ways, even more innovation will be needed in the coming years.  

Control systems which strictly monitor passenger capacity, notifying station managers where routes may be increased to accommodate travelers in a more Covid-safe way, could become widely deployed and powered by IoT. Smart connected barriers could be introduced to help encourage physical distancing at stations or bus stops. Greater prevalence of IoT-connected ticketing and signage could mean reduced contact between travelers and transport staff. Monitoring of cleaning frequency and measuring hand sanitizer levels would allow for a greater sense of security for travelers who may be more than a little concerned about returning to public transport. 

Pelion makes it simple 

The public transport sector has embraced the technological advancements provided by IoT, but many providers are still lagging behind. A common barrier to adoption is lack of IoT expertise in-house, causing confusion about where to start, delaying development cycles, and contributing to stakeholder hesitancy. 

At Pelion, we’ve been a partner for a range of transport companies for many years, offering the knowledge and guidance to make IoT simple and accessible. Here’s what they had to say about their experience: 

“Through the connectivity provided by Pelion we are able to provide dozens of on-board services to our business and our customers. Connectivity for our train fleet enables remote monitoring of engineering systems, the provision of on-board retail as well as on-board entertainment, passenger WiFi and real time train running information for our customers and colleagues.” 

 David Wilson, IS Service Delivery Manager, Virgin Trains 

“Pelion has a comprehensive understanding of the telecoms industry which has led to frictionless implementation in the dynamic and challenging environment of public transport.” 

– Philip Lock, Project Manager, Lothian 

If you are interested in learning more about how Pelion can help connect your business, you can find out more here or get in touch with the team.

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