Data is the reality and future of the world. Everything in this world is being transformed and affected by data and data analytics. Mobility is one of the things being shaped by the power of data. Data and technology have brought about enormous up-gradation and convenience to the arena of mobility.
According to Hootsuite, around 5.1 Billion active users of mobile phones are present, and 4.5 Billion users of the internet exist in the world. When the digital footprint is this large, it enables big data for analysis and improvement purposes.
Modern mobility highly contributes towards building smart cities and states. When a strong database backs transportation (or mobility), the growth rate of cities and states increases exponentially. It is impossible to create models and plans to improve mobility without relevant data and technology availability.
Technology has been impacting mobility for a long time. Technological advances in mobility like infotainment platforms have led to masses being connected all the time. One of the biggest challenges for railway operators is growing passenger numbers combined with ever-increasing efficiency expectations, many railway stations around the world suffer from overcrowding.
Overcrowding affects the safety in stations, the punctuality of train networks, the overall passenger experience and it mainly affects the work of railway operators. Some railway operators must pay an unpunctuality fee measured on train delays. Others have a threshold of an accepted number of safety related incidents that shouldn’t be surpassed. And others simply suffer from bad publicity because passengers can’t have convenient journeys due to the overcrowded station environment.
With the unpredicted situation of a pandemic, railway operators are suddenly facing new challenges. The station environment is rather empty, people are scared in using public transport and the revenue of railway operators is decreasing. The daily tasks now include coping with measures set by the government, while having limited possibilities in proving their efficient implementation. Now the main tasks is to reduce the risk of infections and gain back the trust of passengers by showing engagement to make public transport safe and therefore the choice of transport again. This is where advanced solutions such as digital station technology measures, analyzes and visualizes the quantity/headcount and movement of passengers in stations and on trains. By providing live, historical and predicted data-based metrics about occupancies, passenger flow and unusual behavior, this technology helps railway operators improve and accelerate their decision-making process. These metrics and their analysis are visualized in a dashboard which provides a comprehensive overview and transparency about the station environment. The railway operator can access this dashboard from the computer in the operation control center (OCC) or from the tablet and smartphone. Alerts are triggered whenever an incident or a surpassed threshold is detected.
Since every station environment is different, the capacity solution offers a portfolio of multiple implementation possibilities. These are based on the experience with different technologies that can serve as data source, the experience with different data-based metrics to be calculated and the experience with either visualizing the metrics in the most valuable way on dashboards and passenger information systems or integrating them into other systems via API.
Daily operations of station management can be further improved by implementing digitalization solutions. In a contemporary world, technology even helps the transportation authorities to detect issues and loopholes like rail track breakages, delayed journeys, etc. Technological devices bring back huge chunks of data capable of being used by the authorities to analyze the current scenario and propose improvements.
Rail transport is fundamental to India’s economic development. Rising urbanization, growing market and plethora of opportunities for upcoming young talent is moving people from city to city. Meeting this ever-swelling demand of connectivity. Rail transport is now relying on data driven solutions for accurate demand generation and forecast. For e.g. DRO (Demand Responsive Operation) is used to predict the transportation demand for mass transit networks and to build optimized timetables for each day based on that prediction. Furthermore, we can react in real-time to changes and hence adapt timetables online.
Data plays a transformational role in the future of mobility. Therefore, the scenario of mobility mediums relies a lot on big data and technology. The baby steps of digitalization have begun. But, we need to cover a lot of distance. Let’s take the example of REMMLOT remote monitoring. I think it’s a good step where the electrical data of the electrical machines is gathered from the locomotives. Going forward, we need to also get the mechanical data in advance to assess the performance of a depot or a EME coach. When the train comes in, we already have the data on the wheel profile, rail profile, brake pads etc. You can take corrective action in an accelerated manner. You can bring in digitalization through advanced video analytics on road intersections, where through artificial intelligence or progressive learning or advanced algorithms you could decongest the road intersections through economic and effective measures. We can, through a lot of digitalization methods, predict equipment failure far ahead and prevent the breakdowns. I believe digitalization is the way to smart transport and Siemens is very much leading it with solutions for rail, metro or road customers
Data driven methodology has the potential to meet the goal of accuracy, throughput and capacity of Indian railways. Use of data in mobility will improve safety, operation and maintenance. It is also proving to be promising in predicting and demand generation. We are fast moving towards connected mobility with passengers increasingly demanding connected mode of transport. Technology is the only input with which the rail transport can evolve to become the most sustainable yet efficient form of mobility.