Using data for smarter communication-updates, on a European metro

Data-driven Public Transport

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The Hello World Podcast:
Meet Kim and Jan from Stratiteq and watch our interview with Birgit Wirth from Deutsche Bahn and Arriva UK Trains on traveling in the new normal era.

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European capital metro operator

The challenge.

For a European public transport operator, Stratiteq helped with a passenger information system (PIS). The challenge was to develop a new solution to simulate and validate information before it is being used live in the metro.

The information system consists of screens that emulate physical external and internal screens as well as loudspeakers inside the trains for audio announcements. In addition, the tool also emulates a range of information and warning messages that the train driver can play for a multitude of situations, both text and audio.

As the trains move at 60-80 km/h and 30 meters below ground there’s not much space for bad timing or misunderstandings. In any situation, the operators must send out the information at the exact right time, and the passengers must comprehend every word.

There were also traditional, time-consuming manual work processes to be taken into the equation before starting the project.

The solution.

We started out by identifying the most important data variables that affect the ride. Aside from speed, acceleration, deceleration, and distance between stations there are also the slow platform speed before stop, the open time for doors, and the train’s total dwell time at each stop.

Questions that needed to be answered were, for example – how far before the next station must the message be presented? At 375 meters? 350? It depends on the vehicle speed and the length of the message.

After identifying the needs, we decided the next step was to build a digital twin, a practical tool that could simulate a passenger information system. It’s software that models and simulates a network-based subway system, with multiple start and endpoints for each line.

Building the information simulator was a little tricky and very fun. It’s a convenient and helpful tool that fits any subway system and that we think is a true aid in real life situations. –Gustav Hallberg, Business Developer Stratiteq

The simulator uses the real-life variables mentioned above to simulate a ride. It’s like a simple “physics engine” where, depending on the settings, the ride takes different lengths of time.

The solution was created using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), .NET

Together with the message editing software, the simulator enables the operators to quickly and accurately pre-test the messages under realistic circumstances on their laptops before publishing the information to the production environment.

The impact.

Successful communication depends on timing. Thanks to the simulator, the public transport operator can rapidly test different scenarios at a low cost. Validation was previously done the traditional way, by firstly publishing the information and then riding the actual train and seeing how it turned out.

In the simulator, the operators now can preview how the message will appear on the train’s screens and how it will sound in the speakers. They can synchronize the message (sound travels faster than text) and quickly adjust writing and speech in multiple languages. Now more than ever, the public transport information will be accurate, helpful, and timely – no matter the situation.

Pick my brain.

Gustav Hallberg
Business Developer Public Transport
+46 70 145 80 68