The Covid-19 crisis has significantly changed how Transport Service Providers operate both currently and in the future. Now more than ever before, transport service providers will need to ensure flexibility, agility and efficiency in order to adapt to the ongoing situation, passenger expectations and regulatory requirements.
With potentially lower and limited use of commuters using public transport due to the fear of the spread of infection, people working from home and social distancing, passenger demand and usage will inevitably be affected. Similarily, Covid-19 brings its own challenges which will impact on the transport sector such as a potential reduction in services leading to reduced connectivity and accessibility for communities, increased fares and an increase in environmental impact due to high emissions.
According to Campaign for Better Transport, a future focused strategy from the government is essential for transport companies to survive and communities to retain connectivity. In our latest blog, we take a look at the impact Covid-19 has had on transport service providers and discover how IoT and technology can help.
The impact of Covid-19
The pandemic led to immediate impacts with regards to public transport use with a vast majority of the population working from home or furloughed and following government advice to stay at home and not travel. As a result, rail and tube usage dropped to below 5% of their usual levels and bus usage dropped to below 10-15% of its normal levels. However, despite this there was a peak in the number of people cycling instead due to the restrictions and as a form of exercise. Although as lockdown eased, public transport seen a gradual increase in usage again.
Due to the decrease in fare revenue resulting from reduced passengers, transport service providers have experienced significant financial implications whereby the government have since offered financial support.
At the start of lockdown, the decrease in traffic seen an improvement in air quality improvements and carbon emissions, however it is reported that motor vehicle usage has risen by two thirds which could prove harmful for the environment. Transport service providers will therefore need to help offer sustainable transport choices in order to reduce carbon footprint, for example, providing bike racks to encourage cycling before using public transport.
As a result of the pandemic transport service providers had to introduce strict hygiene measures in place throughout stations and onboard buses and trains. However, as a part of this, technology has a key role to play. So how can technology help?
Technology and IoT as an enabler
Implementing technology and IoT is a key enabler to innovate, improve and transform transport services. In turn this will help providers make service delivery easier, faster and more secure for customers by enhancing services, increasing engagement and strengthening security.
Alongside other technologies such as mobile workforce management, wearables, dynamic scheduling and data insights, IoT technology provides the opportunity to streamline processes, monitor and react accordingly to assets, and enhance passenger experience, while reducing costs.
By utilising sensors and devices to identify or monitor equipment, activity or events and aggregate and analyse data, alerts, notifications and actions can be triggered. Once sensors have flagged an issue or alert with equipment or a location, these issues are automatically triggered and result in the creation and allocation of work to the appropriate field worker who undertakes the required actions.
Together IoT and field service management ensure that work is completed not only efficiently but it also encourages pro-active monitoring which in the long term prevents unnecessary work or escalated issues.
IoT sensors can detect a range of information including the amount of footfall and occupancy of passengers travelling on a mode of transport or when using station facilities, as well as identifying if facilities require cleaning or are at the correct temperature. Additionally, IoT sensors can provide assistance with capacity planning and monitoring such as bike rack usage, availability and abandonment and train usage based on time, dates and seasonal influence.
In particular, transport service providers will need to adhere to hygiene measures during the crisis to ensure stations and facilities are clean and working fit for purpose, as well as managing overcrowding and capacity. This is where IoT can help out as sensors can be placed in washrooms and meeting rooms which detect whether they require cleaning. Furthermore, occupancy sensors can be placed on buses which enables Transport companies to ensure they are running the appropriate routes with the appropriate buses to manage the amount of capacity they need to in real time or at certain key times during the day.
It is evident that transport service providers will need to implement strategies that ensure innovations are affordable to use and passenger centric, while promoting more sustainable methods of transport going forward. However, investment in a digital infrastructure is paramount in order to achieve opportunities to improve efficiencies. Efficiencies such as improving the quality of services provided, lowering fare costs, reducing SLA breaches, opening up new revenue streams, improving the customer experience and loyalty, and exploring new services.
Further benefits achieved through implementing technology include:
- Enabling data to be monitored and automatically stored to a consistent standard, ensuring jobs are undertaken when required, reducing human error and improving compliance with SLA’s
- Enables automated processes that facilitate the undertaking of a timelier service which drives consistency in high quality service delivery for both customers and staff
- Although many would argue the cost of passenger fares are increasing, the introduction of innovative technologies enables rail organisations to save across all operational costs
- IoT presents the opportunity for organisations to be more proactive rather than reactive. Organisations can continuously monitor the status of assets and facilities, enabling you to respond to potential issues in a timelier manner and preventing further, more costly problems from occurring
- Encouraging passengers to cycle to stations encourages people to become more aware of helping to achieve an improved carbon footprint. This helps enable an environmentally friendly service while reducing the amount of carbon emissions overall.
How Totalmobile can help
Sense from Totalmobile makes use of IoT technologies, including connected sensors and rules engines, that enable the creation of work to be automated and assigned to mobile workers, without the need for human intervention.
The solution maximises the potential of sensors that monitor equipment, environments and events, gathering and passing data to an IoT Cloud Management Platform. Information is then analysed, and rules engines and AI are utilised to determine if action, such as the creation of an item of work, is required. Work created can then be assigned to staff via their mobile device, streamlining the delivery of work and empowering them to provide a responsive high-quality service.
It’s evident that technology does have a part to play in shaping the future of transport service providers during the COVID crisis and beyond. Technology which can help transport service providers to manage and plan ahead in terms of capacity planning, ensuring compliance standards are met, improving costs and delivering an overall consistent, customer delivery experience.