Roch Muraine, Worldwide Sales Director for Transportation at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise explains why delays shouldn’t be normal and how data can be used instead

The queues at Dover in recent weeks are reminiscent of every travelling nightmare. While 23 miles is a harsh reality, many of us encounter traffic queues and delays in our daily lives, and manufacturers and retailers are well-versed with more minor supply chain delays. 

But this shouldn’t be our normal. Transportation operators tend to record masses of data, but too often this remains in subsystems. By connecting each pool of data along the journey, long queues, delayed public transport, and disrupted plans, can be a thing of the past. While transport operators can enjoy communication encryption and increased protection against cyber-attacks.

Connecting the (data) dots

Why do we continue to witness road delays, such as the Easter bank holiday that just passed, if the data is there to help prevent this? 

Perhaps surprisingly, there’s a pretty easy solution: connectivity and collaboration. Data has the potential to be life-changing, but only when it’s harnessed, analysed, and acted on. If the data you collect remains in a subsystem, un-communicated, no one has the chance to create clear actions and solutions based upon the outcome the data shows. 

So, how to connect it? 

Real-time information

Receiving up-to-date information in real-time is the key to resolving such issues. To do this, organisations need to deploy connectivity, such as Wi-Fi, which will enable the data currently harnessed to be shared as soon as an issue arises. In addition, solutions need to be put in place to improve real-time collaboration between stakeholders. This way, departments across the organisation will be alerted to the potential problem and able to take action..

Take a bus, for example. Without automatic data transfers, if suddenly the electronically-managed door won’t open, only the bus driver will be immediately aware. They will need to contact multiple teams to call for assistance and ask for passenger timetables to be updated. The time taken to sort this could be anything from a few minutes to an hour, with call wait times and the inevitable fumbling to find contact details. Ultimately, resulting in delays and disruption, potentially unknown to central coordinators. 

With IoT-enabled asset trackers and sensors connected to a secure and central platform at the operations centre, maintenance staff will be informed immediately of such an issue so that investigations and repairs can happen quickly. Scheduling teams will also be alerted to organise alternate arrangements for routes and passenger management. 

Equally, passengers who have pre-bought tickets will need to be notified and public timetables updated. Without interconnection, there is uncertainty, insecurity, and delays. But with it, staff and passengers alike can be confident they are kept up-to-date with the latest information. 

Say goodbye to rush hour

With IoT devices and video-surveillance cameras, you can collect real-time data on traffic jams and rush hours, diverting vehicles heading towards problem zones and configuring more suitable routes that avoid congestion – helping the environment and fuel consumption.

Once you’ve collected data over a specific period, your analyst teams can then identify what times and locations are most likely to experience issues, helping teams to pre-plan routes that avoid problem spots with expected delays. This allows organisations to prevent problems, save fuel, energy, and human resources and keep operations running smoothly and on schedule, without intervention. 

Mission-critical networks

When introducing Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), operators must be sure to deploy secure connectivity. Opting for a mission-critical network ensures your vehicles and IoT devices are protected – leaving data and passenger information vulnerable to attacks is not an option.

A mission-critical network uses a zero-trust approach to identify and authenticate a device before it enters the network, which means it can contain and, in some cases, avoid cyberattacks. If it identifies a threat, an intelligent mix of macro-and micro-segmentation isolates the device on the network, so other connected systems are not affected.

As transport operators continue to embark on digital transformations, it is increasingly imperative, that they ensure new technologies such as IoT and connected devices do not create weaknesses in the network that make other IT hardware vulnerable. With IT teams centrally managing networks and by employing the zero- trust approach, organisations can be confident in the security of their networks and protect their business assets and data.

Ensuring safety

Transportation operators can deploy connected cameras to detect accidents, either alerting them if their driver needs urgent assistance or if other vehicles should avoid certain routes. Alerts are sent via a central platform that offers video, chat, and file sharing capabilities, allowing real-time collaboration for response teams. Control central operators and field technicians will be notified instantly and can take the necessary action immediately; the difference in minutes can save lives.

Further to this, to help prevent accidents, operators can install automated speed reduction systems. By harnessing data and sharing it in live-time via connectivity, operators can enjoy true interconnexion, helping to prevent, avoid, and bypass accidents, as well as being confident that their vehicles will remain safe and not get caught up in, or potentially even cause traffic disruptions. 

Customer-first 

Once operators have access to real-time data, they can share this with passengers to improve the customer experience. For example, manufacturers can now track the shipment journey, and passengers on a bus can get live-time updates on when it is expected. And if you install cameras and sensors in your vehicles, you can even share insights into the busiest bus stops, traffic lanes, etc. 

Both solutions enable passengers and customers to plan their journeys or operations efficiently,  improving customer service and saving time wasted on waiting for late transport, as well as time spent enquiring with customer service teams. This will, in turn, save operators money as customer inquiries and compensations reduce, increasing customer satisfaction. 

Efficiency at heart 

With IoT technology deployed and a secure network guaranteed, enabling an integrated workflow that shares the right information at the right time, transportation operators globally will see massive reductions in travel time .

So, perhaps one day soon, delays will be a distant memory.