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RTPI Speaker Preview: Dominik Grögler, Engineer ICTS, BERNMOBIL

“As long as everything runs as planned, RTPI is relatively simple…”

Dominik Grögler, Engineer ICTS, BERNMOBIL

Dominik Grögler, Engineer ICTS, BERNMOBIL

With the advent of relatively cheap and versatile RTPI systems, expectations concerning when and how information should be provided have risen to a great extent and many companies are investing in such systems to fulfil those needs. However, the technological point-of-view is just one aspect that needs to be considered.

Essentially, a published timetable is a ‘promise’ to the customer and it is therefore what  the customer expects. As long as everything runs as planned, RTPI is relatively simple, but it is when traffic becomes disrupted that things get interesting. If the promise to provide scheduled services cannot be fulfilled, information has to be provided to travellers about what can be expected to happen (or even not to happen) to services. Even the most basic information such as ‘Line 9 Is Out Of Service’ can be useful to change the passenger’s expectation which leads to an increased level of satisfaction. We achieve the greatest impact when the passenger’s expectation is close to what takes place in reality. For this reason, RTPI is not primarily necessary to keep passengers informed, but to use it as a means to change their expectations.

The data hub

In order to provide consistent information throughout a passenger’s journey, it is vital to have one single source of the underlying data – only then can it be guaranteed that the exact same information is distributed to all participating systems. Data hubs are made for this exact reason. All the functional parts of the system (management of connecting vehicles, disposition of vehicles, control of visual or auditory equipment etc.) are implemented in the control centre or in peripheral systems, e.g. webservers.

Another crucial aspect is the quality of data. Even the most sophisticated system is useless if the quality of the underlying data is insufficient. This requires a definition of quality (e.g. which deviation from the scheduled arrival is regarded to be relevant), thorough acquisition of the basic data (coordinates of stop points, travel and stop times etc.) and schedules, that reflect reality as closely as possible. Furthermore, all partners have to agree upon all the aforementioned aspects.

Fortunately, once all obstacles have been overcome, the benefits are versatile: lower costs for all partners; passengers are guided along their journey; and disburdening of the political economy.

With this interconnection of transport companies, yet another promising and challenging opportunity arises – central traffic management. This would allow not only to keep passengers informed in real-time but also to manage disruptions on a large scale.

The data hub for Bern

In 2012, BERNMOBIL was mandated to develop and operate a data hub for the canton of Bern. This data hub is now in service with four partners – BERNMOBIL, RBS and PAG are integrated in one control centre and the federal railways, SBB, is the first external partner. Discussions with potential other partners have begun and it is expected that they could join the system by autumn 2013.

Furthermore, a web-platform is connected to the hub which feeds a mobile application, several types of displays and a system to manage disruptions of scheduled traffic.

Along with the technological developments, organisational changes have been set into motion: application management, engineering, data supply and schedule design are professionally organised and maintained. All projects undergo certain steps: design (specification of all relevant functionalities, evaluation of suppliers, system verification, preparation of a pilot scheme); transition (system validation and documentation, development of a maintenance plan), and operation (delivery into operations). This ensures that all new components are professionally developed, activated and maintained.

Biography

Dominik joined BERNMOBIL in 2010 and worked on project “Real time passenger information for the canton of Bern, Switzerland”.  Amongst his responsibilities is Project Management in the fields of: Development of Standards for Timetabling, Co-ordination of Timetables with other Operators to secure connections, and the Development of New Technologies (on-board computers based on smart phones, data-hub for the exchange of data in standardised formats). Prior to his engagement in public transport, Dominik worked in academia as a Physicist and gained his Masters in Particle Physics at CERN, Geneva (2001) and his PhD in Bio Physics at the University of Zurich (2009).