Every year, cities get more crowded. Gridlocked traffic and exponential population growth pose challenges for infrastructure, causing wear and tear on roads, air pollution, and parking problems. To accommodate commuters, those that can’t afford or choose not to take their cars into downtown or outlying areas, or those heading into areas for one-time events, urban governments look to improve public transit systems. As smart cities continue to evolve, this will become even more critical.
Wireless connectivity has been changing the face and structure of public transit systems. From automatic vehicle location (AVL), surveillance cameras, and digital signs to passenger Wi-Fi, busses and trains are becoming more intuitive. From fleet management to rider experience, 4G and 5G coupled with cloud technology can monitor driving behavior, enhance safety, and facilitate the release of instant information between dispatch and vehicles.
In-vehicle Connectivity and How it is Used
A connected vehicle can use cellular routers to communicate helpful and critical information back to the cloud for processing. This is done through intelligent transport systems that use equipment, applications, and other technological approaches to prevent crashes, communicate with maintenance on the vehicle’s condition or suggest alternate routes in case of construction or traffic accidents.
Cameras, dispatch terminals, stop announcers, set-top boxes, and more are connected to a router on the vehicle. Information is transmitted via the cloud to the central hub using cellular signals. There, diagnoses and decisions can be made on the fly.
With old busses, the driver might turn the corner and discover an accident ahead. The bus is caught in traffic, and routes are delayed. They might utilize GPS to find an alternative route or hop on the radio to dispatch to notify them of the problem. Valuable time is wasted. With cellular connectivity, the GPS has already notified the network of the delay and forged a new route. At the same time, it’s told the potential passengers on that blocked route a destination where they can catch this bus or another route that will get them to their destination.
In-vehicle connectivity can also communicate with other connected vehicles to avoid accidents with automatic braking or onboard notifications or adjust their speed to avoid stops at traffic lights. As more and more vehicles are equipped with communication devices, the roads are safer.
Fleet Management and Telemetry
Connectivity leads to better fleet management through the collection and transmission of data via telemetry. Information such as driver behavior, route management, and automatic vehicle location (AVL) enables management to track precisely what is happening on the road. Insights lead to a better customer experience.
Elements involved in telemetry include GPS, RFID, onboard diagnostics, and routers. All of these provide valuable information that aids in decision-making, and all of these can be done via cellular transmissions.
Instead of manually checking the odometer or oil levels, automatic sensors can send a message through the router to the home office and flag the maintenance department. A message on the driver’s dashboard tells them to head for repairs. Other issues tied to an onboard interactive computer include fuel consumption and engine hours. All of these contribute to the fleet’s health and improve business efficiency.
Video Streaming & Digital Signage
Whether used for public information or as a revenue stream, streaming video advertisements and informational videos are a perfect way to relay information to passengers and the public. Inside or outside the vehicle, digital displays can be changed at a central location via the cloud.
Digital displays at a station notify riders of a delay, which transport is coming into the station next, and other critical rider information. They can also disseminate news and advertising while the rider waits for their bus or train.
Onboard you have a captive audience where advertising can be sold for a premium. This brings in revenue that can be used to save taxpayer money and improve the fleet. At the same time, changes in route, weather, and traffic delays can be displayed. A stop-by-stop tracker ensures riders do not miss their destination.
On the outside of the bus or train, interactive displays catch a broad audience. Ads can be changed based on the time of day or location on the route.
Making life easier for passengers enhances the transport experience. Customers can utilize apps built for a smartphone to find route information and schedules and to purchase a pass on their way to the bus stop. They can swipe their phone on the connected scanner as they board. There are technologies where you can keep your pass in your wallet or on your phone and not even have to stop to swipe. Touchless ticketing also allows for a more sanitary environment for those concerned about spreading germs or viruses.
The route can be tied to a rider’s smartphone. Automatic alerts can sound when passengers are nearing their destination or send transfer information by text.
By monitoring the number of passengers on the vehicle at any given time, stops on a route can be streamlined or modified.
Wi-Fi for Passengers
Public Wi-Fi for passengers is a must-needed perk for those that have long rides to their destination. The challenge comes with providing fast, free, and consistent connections. A reliable service includes a cellular router with Wi-Fi installed in the vehicle. This can ping the available cellular towers along the route and allow for a seamless internet connection.
Video Surveillance & Security
Just by their presence, advanced surveillance systems can deter crimes. Installed in inconspicuous places – inside and outside the vehicles – they can be monitored from a central location. Cellular signals connected by the cloud to a central location allow staff to watch the bus while the driver concentrates on the road. They can be rotated to see 360 degrees and be time and location stamped for use as needed. Cameras installed outside can record accidents or incidents.
With IoT devices such as cameras and sensors, public transit security systems can be integrated with other public surveillance systems to capture a series of events. Incorporate facial recognition software, and those wanted by law enforcement can be tracked.
As smart cities evolve, public transportation will play a more significant role. Low emission busses and rail systems can reduce energy costs and carbon footprint. Improved routes and seamless service can increase ridership. Cities of the future strive to reduce the number of cars in an area, but that can’t happen without a state-of-the-art public transit system.
LTE and 5G cellular routers used with IoT devices connected the cloud provide a seamless rider experience and sound business management for fleet owners.