Public transportation systems play an enormous role in governing not only how we live but also in determining whether towns and cities thrive or decline. It goes without saying, therefore, that those working in the industry have a profound responsibility with every decision they make as they could influence the quality of life for millions. It’s almost a miniature version of the butterfly effect!
There are two types of decisions required to achieve the goals of safety, efficiency and customer satisfaction in the public transport sector:
- Decisions that can be planned, considered and measured for both day-to-day and long term operational success of transport networks; and
- On-the-spot decisions that must be made when the unexpected occurs.
Two different circumstances with different pressures but one commonality – the decisions must be founded on solid information then clearly communicated and effectively implemented.
While investment in infrastructure is of great importance in coping with growing populations and expanding cities, we also need the same investment in the communications systems that connect the infrastructure and workers powering these transport networks.
Reliable and efficient voice and data communications between the right people lead to better outcomes in terms of safety, efficiency and customer service. Emergency responses are improved; well-informed staff provide better customer service; and teams function more cohesively.
With the endless communications options and capabilities available today, it can be difficult to choose the right technology. Do you choose TETRA, P25, DMR, LTE or a combination of some or all? How do you connect the right teams? How can applications for safety and information feed into the correct channels? How do you get the right information to the right individuals so informed decisions can be made?
The answer to such questions lies in considering three core elements that form the foundation of the Next Generation Transport Communications System:
- High availability communications for an uninterruptible service that can be relied on in times of emergency;
- Simplified application integration for the collection and centralisation of data from various application sources via APIs to make informed decisions; and
- Converged communication services for a unified platform of seemingly disparate communication networks in order to provide a full picture of information.
The end result is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Instead you will find a system that combines the best of certain technologies on a case-by-case basis (and in the most suitable way for that particular case). For example, the resilient, reliable TETRA network, combined with the data capacities of LTE, the interoperability of push-to-talk (PTT)-over-broadband and a platform of applications may prove the best mix for your requirements.
When you combine different technologies in the right way to create a bespoke solution, decision-makers can form confident and informed decisions. This ensures efficient and safe operations to get people from A to B that contribute to thriving communities.
The next system of communication rolled out across our railways and roads will have a profound impact on our way of life. From the extreme of ensuring our safety to letting customers know if the train is on time, it all hinges on the movement of information.
Going forward I will explore various aspects of this article in more detail. Please share your views and help shape the conversation.