Public transport and the automation of impossible tasks

Welcome back to the future of public transport. This is the second article in our series, you can read the first one here. This industry has developed through many important leaps, from horses to magnetic levitation. But the giant leap of our time and public transport’s true superpower is data. Used right, data leads to more innovative and more efficient transportation for everybody around the globe. With data, we can do what no human being has done before. It sounds like wizardry, but it’s data and technology at work.


Like a remote control and a magic wand in one

In the first step of the data-driven stairway to business value, you make data available and reliable. The organization then uses the data as a basis for decision-making to rapidly improve its performance. Done right and focusing on punctuality, travel numbers, and sales will result in decreased costs and increased productivity.

In the second step, the organization uses data, automation, and process optimization to create new capabilities. Made right, for example, by optimizing timetables and automating customer segmenting, the results are even more remarkable than in step one. Cost plummets, reliability rises, and customer satisfaction begins to soar. But you have just started. Continue forward, and the organization can soon perform impossible tasks. And, abracadabra, here are a couple of examples:


Example: See ticket fraud miles away without a surveillance camera

With automation, big data, algorithms, AI, and intelligent combinations of data sources, you can dramatically boost the organization’s capabilities. Suddenly, you can handle millions of data in real time. From the public transport’s operations center, you can see events on a bus miles away – with no surveillance camera nor contact with anyone on the bus. You can see in real time that there are more people than validated tickets on the bus. You can draw the well-founded conclusion that there’s potential ticket fraud. You can quickly direct fare inspectors to the bus to check. They board at the next stop.

The technology is like a remote control and a magic wand in one. The remote sees the invisible problem, and the wand appears out of nowhere and fixes it. The organization can perform just as effective fare inspections as before, with far fewer inspectors. Thanks to data, they know exactly where to go. Costs fall, efficiency soars. This way of working probably makes passengers feel that fare inspection has become more effective, discouraging people from trying.


Example: Discover an unexpected crowd boarding a remote train the minute they do it

Another way to use the technology is to prompt unexplained events. Thanks to data, the system knows how many people usually travel in a specific vehicle on a particular route at a certain time. Let’s say there are suddenly ten times more people than usual. It could be students going to a festival, or it could be football hooligans from a visiting team, you don’t know. With your “magic” abilities, you can see that something odd is happening, and you can send personnel to check it up. Maybe it’s nothing, and all that happens is you get new real-time statistics for the trip. Or perhaps it was good you saw the prompt. Again, the remote control and the magic wand.

So, as if by magic, everybody’s welcome to safer public transport, around the clock. Or maybe it’s by a real-time combination of data sources like automatic passenger counting, weight sensors, Wi-Fi access points, and MacID. But that’s between you and me.


In the next article…

In the next article, we take a step further up the business value stairway and tell you about what happens on level three:

  • How you let passengers do your job and get rapidly rising customer satisfaction in return.
  • How you in advance help commuters to choose vehicles so they won’t stand packed like sardines in the middle of a pandemic or sit utterly alone in a bus in the middle of the night.
  • How you smoothly see that all passengers get home when their rush hour train has stopped somewhere in the countryside between stations and right before a fallen tree.


Want to read more?

Feel free to deep dive into our client cases, guides, and blog articles that are available on our knowledge hub.
You can also follow us on LinkedIn to get tips and tricks that will help you along the way in your data-driven journey.


About the author

Gustav Hallberg is a business developer who enjoys working at the intersection of people, business & technology. He is helping digitally progressive organizations within the public transport sector on their journeys towards becoming more data-driven.


Gustav Hallberg

Business Developer Public Transport

+46 70 145 80 68