Over the past two months, we have been sharing stories about our Guardians of Mobility who continue to work on the front line despite the dangers of COVID-19. Yet, we see that behind our front line workers are those keeping the public transport system moving, safely and securely.
Public transport industry manufacturers and suppliers are providing vehicles, transport equipment, IT infrastructure, materials and services for transport operators and authorities. These efforts mostly go unnoticed by the transport users. We hope to uncover some of these crucial actions so that we can all continue to travel with peace of mind.
Today, we speak with three industry representatives on what they are doing to ensure operations keep running smoothly and how they are preparing for the future.
Hitachi, a company spanning across many sectors from health care to the transport industry, has been supporting their large global community. Hitachi Information and Control Systems in the UK is supporting Network Rail by providing training and simulators for remote staff managing signalling in order to keep the railways running. Hitachi Rail in Italy is donating FFP2 masks to regional and city institutions, has increased cleaning regimes at all sites worldwide, and is providing additional mental health and staff development support.
“Why do we do this? Because it is the right thing to do. We might be an industrial company but we put a lot of attention on social innovation. Our mission is clear: keep society healthy and happy”, said Generoso Immediato, Head of Product Portfolio & Roadmaps at Hitachi Rail and Chairman of UITP’s Information Technology & Service Industry (ITSI) Committee.
Our mission is clear: keep society healthy and happy
Speaking on behalf of the industry, Immediato adds, “the response from the industry to the crisis has been immediate and twofold: safety remains our priority for passengers, staff and colleagues; and then focus is on business continuity, helping our customers in delivering operations during critical circumstances. We are experiencing common exchange platforms, sharing knowledge, data, best practices and lessons learned among all the sector stakeholders, which will allow our sector to evolve through new approaches and farsighted transportation solutions.”
Naturally, safety is top priority for everyone. One of the biggest challenges our sector faces during this pandemic is to prevent high flows of passenger travel and crowding in stations. Yet KONE, a global leader in the elevator and escalator industry, has been providing some solutions for a long time and has introduced several more as a response to the need. From using antibacterial surface materials and air purifiers in elevators and UV-C sanitisers on escalator handrails, to using QR-codes to call elevators remotely and reduce the need to touch surfaces as well as preventative maintenance of equipment.
“Connectivity and AI cloud-based solutions are helping us send in technicians at very first signs of potential malfunction and at hours when the equipment is not in use, eliminating the likelihood of an breakdown during peak-time”, says Calin Hera, Business Development Manager in Infrastructure. “Many of these solutions are not new in our portfolio but they are now needed more than ever. Every single element needs to be in place to ensure safety and hygiene of passengers and personnel alike.”
We have noticed that it is important to work together with the customers; rarely is there a 'one size fits all' solution
“We have noticed that it is important to work together with the customers; rarely is there a 'one size fits all' solution. Each operator and station have their own specific conditions. The most successful cases are when we find the right solution together.”
“Going beyond the purely commercial, the relationship between PTOs and their supply chain is based on working together to guarantee the highest levels of safety, security, frequency and ultimately quality of service.”, said Berta Barrero Vazquez, Transportation Market Director and President of UITP’s Industry Division.
To guarantee the continuity of public transport activity such as ticketing, signalling, passenger information, safety and protection systems, the company has reinforced its design teams working in artificial intelligence, augumented reality and remote control operations which means they can offer operators adapted services. They have invested in smart maintenance solutions, deployed contactless and EMV technologies in ticketing. The leading IT and consultancy company continues to search for solutions for new technologies such as data analytics and image processing for automations and mobile applications, related to challenges of demand management, citizen mobility platforms and smart ticketing technologies.
Public transport needs to recover its attractiveness for users, reaching beyond the basic concept of public service
“It is time to heavily invest in the evolution of the infrastructure, intelligent systems and more efficient communication networks that accelerate the digital transformation of cities and interconnect territories. Public transport needs to recover its attractiveness for users, reaching beyond the basic concept of public service. Provide and manage the knowledge we obtain from data; develop user-centric approaches, integrate mobility management with other services for citizens, and prepare public transport systems for future threats.”
While the public transport industry has been hit hard during the crisis, it is clear to see that there are opportunities to adapt and foster new ways of working. Times are changing and we need to work together to build a better future.
Don´t miss our next UITP Webinar (in Spanish), 16 June at 16:00 CEST, on “Engineering and maintenance during COVID-19”. Register here!
UITP and Messe Karlsruhe are running a series of free E-Market webinars with leading industry suppliers. Register for the upcoming ‘Leveraging big data and data analytics to achieve social distancing’ on 30 June here!