Sponsored by LILEE Systems

Smart Transportation starts here

Posted on September 4, 2018

As new technologies are available, transportation becomes smarter, buses, metros, and trains become “connected vehicles”, and this brings tangible benefits to operators, users, maintainers, the community, and the environment. Technology, however, is often misunderstood and the benefits not realized.

Whether you run a private business or are serving a public transport agency, your goals more likely include a growing number of passengers, satisfying their needs, and keeping efficiency high with tight margins. Focusing on what technology to deploy next on your vehicles may not be part of your priority list until it is clear how it can help you meet those goals.

When thinking about technology and transforming your fleet to “connected vehicles”, think about consolidation, local processing, open platform, and remote monitoring and management. Technology that offers these features and benefits will truly reduce the total cost of owning the technology.

Consolidation – Why maintain multiple devices when one does everything your operation needs?

The growing number of systems onboard vehicles leads to complexity and in some cases resembles a data center on wheels. There are technologies that are helping tech giants consolidate, integrate and host applications on servers at a massive scale. These proven technologies can be used to simplify onboard networks and manage them efficiently at a fraction of the cost. Consolidation of devices is achieved when all your systems onboard - CCTV, passenger information system (PIS), Wi-Fi, automatic passenger counter (APC), driver performance monitoring, to name some - can be virtualized, installed and run from one or more onboard servers. The virtual machine (e.g. VMWare, KVM) or container (e.g. Docker, Kubernetes) technologies isolate multiple applications and allow them to better utilize and share hardware resources (i.e. CPU, memory, and sensors).

The number of man-hours spent monitoring, keeping track of, and troubleshooting onboard devices is reduced by a factor of 2, 3, 4 or more, and productivity goes up.

The consolidation of applications requires dedicated local processing to make decisions locally, meeting application and operational demands.

The data collected from your onboard systems can be manipulated and aggregated before it is sent to the cloud, if at all needed, or stored locally for future use. Some applications may need to send data to a central system in real-time, for instance, vehicle location. Other applications may need to process the data first to generate events prior to transmitting it, for instance, a driver monitoring system will process video and sensor data to generate speeding events to be sent to the cloud as they occur, and will store raw data onboard to be retrieved at a later time.

Sending data from the vehicle to a remote data center or cloud may be affected by network latency, which can be unacceptable for some applications. Applications that generate large volumes of data, such as video, cannot move to the cloud due to bandwidth (and cost) limitations. Having local processing power at the “edge” of the network, a.k.a. the gateway installed onboard your vehicle, allows for a more efficient use of the communications networks.

Smart connectivity– How do you keep data costs controlled with multiple systems demanding bandwidth?

Transportation operators are facing two main challenges regarding connectivity: LTE is expensive and managing multiple connectivity technologies can be complex. For instance, rail operators may use a combination of trackside radio and LTE to cover the extent of their network, and for different purposes, operational versus passenger data. Smart connectivity platform is essential to manage connectivity and cost of connectivity while meeting the demands of applications onboard. Such platform uses network policies defined by operators to aggregate links from one or multiple communication technologies (i.e. LTE, Wi-Fi) and optimize the usage to fulfill the total bandwidth needs. When your applications are enabled by and your connectivity is managed by an edge-to-cloud connectivity platform, you are adding “smarts” to your transportation system. In most instance, the smart connectivity platform enables you to control LTE costs and only pay for data that your systems need when they need them, and not more. The policies allow usage of LTE networks optimally and provide best available least cost link at any given point – when other networks such as Wi-Fi or radio are not available.

Open platform – because vendor lock-in can become expensive

A platform that is open at the edge and the cloud lowers the cost of integration. Open platforms and applications with published APIs ease the integration burden of diverse systems and allow generating business insights by easily combining the data from multiple systems. Investing in platforms without an open architecture becomes expensive in the long term as only the original vendor can provide such integration resulting in vendor lock-in. Or if integrating third party software is not possible due to lack of an open architecture, then operators will pay the price of managing stand-alone technologies and the consequences that come with that.

Most of the cloud platforms provide RESTFul APIs to integrate with external or third-party applications. It is essential to also have an open onboard gateway that can host or integrate with third-party applications at the edge. Such open platforms attract more application developers and can unleash innovation. For instance, a public transit agency can leverage the openness of the platform to crowdsource development of custom applications.

Remote monitoring and management – of vehicles, onboard devices, data. 

A strong remote management system is key to deploying and managing technology on vehicles at scale. Operations management, remote monitoring, tracking, provisioning, troubleshooting and software updates, is key to efficiently operating onboard systems. Remote monitoring system must collect all the data required to help the operator identify and diagnose problems proactively or as they happen. These insights or analytics consolidated in one single user interface, accessible from any computer or smartphone, simplifies the assessment of events and any decision-making process that is required.

Having details on how the data is being consumed onboard your fleet, gives you the power to make informed decisions regarding services provided to customers and operational performance, and cellular link performance reports can help negotiate contracts with providers depending on how SLA’s are met.

Technology is becoming smarter, sometimes harder to understand. It is important to find that technology partner that will help you create and deploy a technology strategy that will achieve your operational goals, while you take your company on the path of modernization and digitalization.

Smart transportation starts with the right technology installed in your vehicles, that will bring benefits to your operation and the community that you serve, by providing a better, more efficient and reliable system at competitive prices.

Many operators have neither the necessary staff nor the time to manage a variety of disparate systems or don’t know where to start in their modernization path. The concepts of true consolidation and single connectivity gateway are accessible to all operators with small and large fleets. Open connectivity platforms are allowing the industry to move forward, to integrate and collaborate more than ever, bringing amazing value to the people that they serve.

About LILEE Systems:

LILEE Systems provides real-time connectivity for onboard devices in trains, buses, other mobile assets and for smart cities. We enable a variety of applications such as passenger Wi-Fi, CAD/AVL, infotainment, video- and sensor-based safety applications, and telematics. LILEE’s edge gateways also run third-party applications and optimize connectivity through dynamic load balancing to lower cellular costs. LILEE Systems, listed as an Inc. 500 fastest-growing private company, is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices in Taipei and Amsterdam. Visit www.lileesystems.com to learn more about our products and solutions or contact us at Sales.

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