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Jumping the Barriers

In the Nordics, Kogenta technology is enabling urban sustainability through seamless public transport.

 ‘Seamless’ is a piece of jargon that’s used all too often (and often all too misleadingly) in the world of new technology. In the world of mobility and public transport, however, the ‘seamless experience’ is a worthwhile aspiration – and it’s starting to feel like an achievable one too.

What would a ‘seamless public transport experience’ feel like? At its simplest, it would be a journey without friction. No confusing fares and routes, no struggle with payment processes. An experience where you leave your own front door and travel smoothly and easily to your destination without any interaction with person or machine, but confident that your journey will be correctly recognised and charged. An experience that is, above all, easier, cheaper and more pleasant than using your own private vehicle to add to the noise and pollution of the city centre.

But does the technology exist to support this vision?

It does, and Kogenta has been instrumental in its test and rollout. It’s called ‘BIBO’ – or ‘Be In Be Out’  technology. It recognises the presence and subsequent absence of an individual or device from a location or vehicle, collecting metrics that can be applied to charging, route analytics and much more.

Importantly, unlike other ticketing/ monitoring technologies, BIBO doesn’t depend solely on Bluetooth and external sensors/ emitters which are highly prone to false positives (are you on the bus, or in an adjacent vehicle, or just walking alongside?) but uses the wide range of inbuilt phone sensors to generate a highly granular picture of passenger activity. And it doesn’t depend on the passenger checking in and checking out – activity that can be surprisingly difficult when (for example)  laden down with shopping or herding small children.

Similar technologies already exist, of course. In London, for example, passengers routinely travel around the network swiping Oyster cards or credit cards at points of entry or egress. But these are not seamless experiences. Referrred to as ‘CIBO’ (Check In Be Out) or CICO (Check In Check Out) such services require payment instruments to be carried – and sometimes these are forgotten. They require physical interaction at barriers, not always easy for people with disabilities. CICO and CIBO are are not ‘frictionless’ technologies, and still provide a deterrent to the use of public over private transport which is so vital to sustainable cities. A deterrent too to inclusive engagement with public life by the sight- or mobility-impaired.

‘BIBO’ is much smarter than this. A mobile app is all that is required for all journeys within the transit system, and without the need for physical checking in and checking out, BIBO reduces congestion at entry and exit points, resulting in faster boarding and disembarking. BIBO also opens up flexible charging options for operators – for example, charging based on the precise distance travelled, the zones crossed and so on. And it gives those operators a mountain of data which they can use to analyse usage patterns, optimise route planning and so on – again, improving the passenger experience and increasing takeup.

Kogenta technology is helping urban authorities jump another barrier to the modern sustainable, inclusive city and take another step away from congested, polluted urban life.

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Automated ticketing is just one application of Kogenta’s geo-contextual solutions. For more, including the use of geo-contextual insights to support post-GDPR advertising and marketing strategies, contact us and Book a Demo.

 

Stepping up smart access to public transport

For many years, Public Transport Authorities (PTAs) across the world have embraced inclusivity and universal access as vital components of their strategies and missions. But can hi-tech geo-contextual applications help PTAs and operators to go the extra mile in meeting their legal and moral obligations for inclusive mobility?

The rationale for inclusivity is clear – apart from the simple humanity of extending public services to all members of the community, strict legal accessibility requirements exist in most countries, many of whom also aspire to meet UN international sustainability goals – particularly goal 10 (to reduce inequalities) and goal 11 (to increase the sustainability of cities and communities).

Public transport systems can be complex to navigate, even for people without mobility and sight issues. For those who are already struggling, the challenges can seem insurmountable.

Investments amounting to billions have been made to address these challenges, commonly enabling amongst other things,

  • stepless access to stations, platforms and facilities
  • wheelchair-accessible public transport vehicles
  • priority seating for people with visual impairments or mobility issues
  • improved and more thoughtful signage and audio-visual announcements
  • Integrated braille and other tactile guidance
  • dedicated training for drivers and other transport staff

Often working closely with disability advocacy and action groups, many public transport providers have greatly improved their physical environment in these and other ways to make it more accessible and usable.

However, there remains considerable scope to ease and improve the journeys taken by  people with disabilities, and indeed by others who don’t enjoy complete freedom of movement – such as many elderly people, parents of young children and others with special needs or temporary incapacities. For these travellers, smart software, app-based location data and vehicle sensors have the potential to greatly improve their experience.

In the Norwegian city of Drammen, for example, public transport provider Brakar has successfully trialled Kogenta’s location data solution to ensure that their buses do not sweep past blind and sight-impaired passengers who cannot easily differentiate and flag down the correct bus as it approaches their stop.

Sskjermbilde.
Trialling Kogenta’s location data solution in Drammen.

Passengers can monitor where suitable buses are, using audio/ verbal as well as visual cues. A self-configured permission in the passenger’s app will trigger a “priority passenger waiting” message on the bus driver’s digital dashboard.

The technology will be built into the transport operator’s travel app, making accessibility part of an integrated hi-tech service usable by anyone who may need extra help, or even just more time to board and disembark, rather than an additional ‘special needs’ app that less able passengers have to master. And as indicated above, the facility can easily be extended to other passengers whose mobility is challenged.

Smart access to public transport.
Accessibility app trial in Drammen, Norway.

Making platforms and vehicles accessible is important, but so is making the system aware of, and responsive to, disabled or incapacitated passengers, and allowing those passengers to fully engage with the system and with drivers. Mobility- and location-sensitive tech, with geo-contextual awareness, is proving a vital enabler to more equal, accessible and enjoyable public transport for all.


Urban transport accessibility and planning is just one application of Kogenta’s geo-contextual solutions.  Contact Us to Book a Demo.

What does access to public transportation tell us about social mobility in the UK?

Kogenta visualisation of the month: UK transportation

A Kogenta heatmap of the UK showing access to public transportation tells us some things we might have expected, but also raises some interesting questions about both physical and demographic social mobility.

Unsurprisingly, public transportation is at its densest and most available in cities and other major conurbations. The UK is a country which has largely privatised its transport networks, and this is where transportation companies will find the greatest number of prospective passengers and highest potential revenue. So not only will there typically be bus, tram and metro companies in the same space, there may be more than one example of each, all competing for significant passenger spend.

UK access to public transportation heat map.

Kogenta heat map showing access to UK public transportation.

 

Outside of these areas, however, the picture is much patchier. Across large areas of the country, many individual citizens have limited or no viable public transportation and must make their own arrangements.

Closer examination of the figures uncovers other stories connected to the availability of public transportation, and its impact on populations in and outside of UK cities.

For example, when we look at UK residents without any realistic public transportation (including buses, trains, ferries, and an underground tube system) in particular to support journeys to work, we find that these are:

10% more likely than the national average to be aged 45 and over

So those who are outside the public transport network are more likely to be older citizens and dependent on their own transport (cars, taxis and so on). This is likely to be a disincentivising factor in terms of persuading older citizens to rejoin or remain in the workforce (assuming that the majority of employment opportunities will be in cities and major conurbations). It may also be a socially inhibiting factor for many older citizens who are not seeking work, but who wish to stay engaged with their local community. Neither of these scenarios are desirable in terms of economic flexibility and social wellbeing.

20% more likely than the national average to work from home

This raises questions of causality and coincidence.  Are people who are able to work from home less concerned about public transport, so are happy to live in, and perhaps actively move to, areas without good public transport (for prized rural seclusion)? Almost certainly yes, but there will also be those who live in such areas who, because they are less able to commute, will seek work – not necessarily well-paid work – that they can do from home. For them, homeworking is not a lifestyle choice. The data that we have doesn’t allow such questions to be answered, but it does raise questions which would repay further investigation, helping us to understand the extent to which distribution of public transport inhibits the flexibility of the workforce.

20% more likely to live in detached accommodation

There is a trade-off for having relatively poor public transportation – other things being equal, affordable living space is likely to be much more available. But it raises the question of whether this is a choice people should have to make.

20% less likely to be in higher education

Again a number of factors are likely to be in play here. Older people in rural communities (see above) are less likely to be in higher education. Universities and places of higher education tend to be in cities and major conurbations, and students often remain in those cities post-graduation. But it raises the question of whether the lack of public transportation is an active block on sectors of society having access to higher education (particularly when one possible alternative, student accommodation, tends to be prohibitively expensive) and this would justify further investigation.

More likely to own cars

Which might seem obvious – poor public transportation will naturally push people to whatever private transportation they can afford. However it also flags up the tendency for low levels of (low-polluting) public transportation to push up the numbers of (high-polluting) private vehicles, and the numbers of journeys that they take. So there is a strong environmental factor in the availability or otherwise of public transportation.

Clearly the availability of public transportation is a matter of mobility – but looking more closely at the characteristics of those who do or don’t have access to good public transport, it’s highly likely that social mobility and economic flexibility are also considerably impacted – insights which are all the more significant as public spending budgets come under continuing pressure. It also flags how integral is public transport availability to political objectives to ‘level up’ the UK and create more equal opportunity.


This article references public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. For more on understanding and accessing market and location demographics, Contact Us to Book a Demo.

The Periodic Ticket can soon become history

A brand-new research project aims to create a simpler and more fair ticketing system for you and me. Kogenta has teamed up with Kristiania University College, Ruter (public transportation company serving the greater Oslo region) and Nordland County Municipality. With their ongoing research project, they are working on how to eliminate ticket frustration in public transport. The project has received support from the Research Council of Norway.

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