Stations are living spaces within cities, where modern architectural lines meet older and more historical ones. Over the years, technology has been implemented and upgraded, but the intelligence behind it still isn’t there.
Passenger numbers are starting to return to pre-covid numbers but as these numbers rise, so does congestion and crime. In line with passenger demand, new systems to manage passenger flow, operations and security are more important than ever before.
A growing population and increasing urbanisation are pushing the boundaries of our existing infrastructure and resources, which generates new issues for cities. Local authorities are responding to these challenges by employing smart approaches. However, there is still a significant gap in knowledge and understanding of how best to take forward smart city concepts and initiatives.
In alignment with the digital transformation of rail and smart cities, our railway stations must evolve in parallel. Smart stations sit at the intersection of the five constants of urban planning for smart cities: public space, the common good, citizens, administration and infrastructure, which in turn gives rise to the implementation of smart stations.
Passenger needs and expectations have changed dramatically since stations were first built and although technology has been implemented throughout the years these systems are disconnected; creating frustration for users living in an increasingly connected world.
Smart transport systems are a key component of smart city models (see figure 1). The transport element is built on three main pillars – smart mobility, smart connectivity and smart energy consumption. The progression of efficient movement of people and freight does not rely on infrastructure alone but the use of an Intelligent Transport System (ITS). Without the intelligence behind the infrastructure, these sensors and systems are just siloed, creating a barrier to the amount of value they bring to both staff and passengers.
Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) are based on crowdsourcing to gather a wide variety of information about transport networks, travellers and vehicles to make data-driven decisions at system level. In most cases, the technology is available, but the unification and structure of systems are not. Existing systems provide masses of unstructured data on a daily basis and is therefore limited without an ITS. ITS leverage the use of existing systems and sensors and allow mass automated data collection and analysis to create the distribution of useful, intelligent information through new channels; directly increasing connectivity of the environment and enhancing the quality of life for people in smart cities.
Living in a real-time world
The missing piece of Intelligent Transport Systems is the real-time element. An ITS is only useful to passengers and staff if the masses of data are processed and translated in real-time. KeTech live and breathe smart systems, developing and implementing real-time, connected information systems – but that is just scratching the surface. The thing that makes all our systems possible, our one-of-a-kind secret weapon, is our Universal Information System (UIS). KeTech’s UIS is a truly unique ITS, it is the only system in the UK that harnesses technologies such as: the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, unlimited data processing and advanced analytics to provide a whole new level of ‘connectedness’ and automation. KeTech’s UIS connects individual sensors and systems, processes the data and provides intelligent outcomes with the highest security and reliability. Resulting in lower operational costs and next level customer experience. KeTech’s UIS unlocks true value compared to what individual systems are able to do in isolation, connecting them to reach full functionality. The system allows all assets to be monitored and managed centrally from one dashboard in true real-time, with the addition of trend reports and analysis to aid future station management.
Connecting the dots
Railway stations are no longer just a simple hub that allow people to get from A to B, passengers expect stations to be enjoyable, comfortable and seamless. Research shows that railway stations are the point of trust between passengers and service providers. If stations don’t help passengers meet their travel objectives, the trust between the passenger and provider is instantly broken.
An Intelligent Transport System (ITS), such as KeTech’s UIS can strengthen passenger trust and confidence through strengthening the technology architecture in stations. This overarching architecture essentially removes the barrier of siloed systems, allowing them to talk to each other and disseminate data and for the data provided to be translated into information unlocking the systems full potential.
KeTech’s UIS draws value from all existing systems including:
• CCTV to trigger lighting, signage and PA to optimise passenger flow.
• Connect CCTV systems and sensors to detect unusual activity or object identification, triggering immediate alerts to staff and activating brighter lighting to that area and alerting customers via PA and signage in real-time.
• Improved situational awareness helping you make smarter, better-informed decisions when it matters the most.
• The system can also encourage passenger behaviour through using a combination of intensity, colour and temperature of lighting as a tool to create optimal ambience in spaces where customers are waiting for longer periods, guide them where to stand on the platform or to encourage customers to leave the station promptly when it is closing.
These are just a small handful of examples of what is possible through UIS. The system ultimately improves situational awareness helping staff and passengers to make smarter, better-informed decisions when it matters the most.
A new approach
As with anything, there are challenges when implementing new approaches. It is not simple – that is the challenge that smart stations face. Each station’s situation must be studied individually, there is no unique formula for success. Nevertheless, the three pillars from the smart city model should drive the development of stations of the future, smart management, smart infrastructure and smart mobility.
All of which can be interconnected and centrally managed through KeTech’s Universal Information System.