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'Smart' Telematics Solutions Increase Efficiency, Affordability

Posted on February 15, 2013 by Brittni Rubin, Assistant Editor

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Companies such as RouteMatch are now offering tablets to compliment their software offerings.
Companies such as RouteMatch are now offering tablets to compliment their software offerings.

‘Smart’ Solutions for Routing
Siemens’ Infrastructure & Cities Sector collaborated with Trapeze Group to create Transit Signal Priority (TSP), an intelligent transportation solution for the San Antonio-based VIA Metropolitan Transit’s new Primo bus fleet.

TSP, operated through Siemens’ NextConnect software and Trapeze Group’s GPS system, coordinates a bus’ position data with traffic signaling. Traffic signals are modified virtually to prioritize bus traffic, creating a BRT line without needing physical detector equipment at intersections.

An on-board computer can automatically request a green light when a bus behind schedule is approaching a busy intersection.

“We’re leveraging the telematics already on-board to add capacity, economy, and efficiency without adding new tracks or digging new tunnels,” says Peter Torrellas, chief technology officer, Siemens Rail Automation.

This custom solution can be expanded or implemented in other cities across the U.S., Torrellas says.

Similarly, Siemens also developed the Trainguard MT CBTC, a communication-based train control solution that allows fully-automated circulation of rapid transit systems and less time between trains with a mobile block system. Used on New York City Transit’s BMT Canarsie Line, it helped increase capacity by 20%.

Torrellas believes more adoption of telematics in public infrastructure to address congestion will continue to grow. In addition, we will see more adoption of GPS technology for improving fuel economy.

Efficiency Now and Later
In the event of a vehicle or route issue, the biggest tasks transit agencies face are keeping services reliable, relaying information to passengers and maintaining system efficiency, according to Bill McFarland, director of technical services for INIT.

INIT’s latest tool, MOBILE-ITCS, works to address these necessities. It is an intermodal transport control system that aids dispatchers in controlling operations. ITCS tracks and monitors the location of all vehicles at all times and instantly reports disturbances in service.

If a dispatcher creates a route detour, drivers are notified electronically, either via text message or with turn-by-turn mapping directions. On-board computers enable voice and data communication between vehicles as well.

“This allows for effective communication when working around an incident,” McFarland says. “Every detour created is shipping out to drivers that enter that line of direction.”

Statistical information for future planning and management decisions are based on operational data collected by ITCS and the on-board computer.
“To have data become information we can use at the end of the day to help plan or build more efficient schedules is huge for the agencies and its passengers,” McFarland says.

Clever Devices, an expanding company that acquired two tech companies within the past year, is formally introducing its newest product, AVM, this February. It’s a new version of the third generation model of the company’s Automatic Vehicle Health Monitoring solution. Historically, Clever Devices offered it as part of a suite of telematics products, but given today’s economy, AVM is available as a stand-alone solution to reduce costs for customers.

“Currently, one of the big trends is that everyone’s being forced to do more with less because budgets are tight,” says Joseph Saporita, VP, production development, for Clever Devices. “This next-gen system will improve what we already had at a better price point.”

AVM gives customers early warning indicators of vehicle health issues and allows the client to engage in predictive maintenance. According to Saporita, since its start, the device has helped clients reduce road calls by 25% to 40% and the amount of diagnostic time by over 50%.

Critical information, such as engine hours and fault code, are automatically transferred to the system and populated in work orders. It also gives the customer quantifiable data on any fleet defects covered under warranty, which, if reported, can spare clients large costs.

Built on a Web-based solution, data is transferred in real-time and can be accessed by any Internet-enabled device.

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