Using the IoT for more efficient transport systems

11th June 2013

Contemporary transport networks in almost every town and city generally rely on disparate and largely unconnected information technology systems – from ticketing to electronic real-time route and timetable information displays for customers to central communications and operations and more. However over time expectations of both internal and external customers include the almost instant availability of data from every facet of the system. Due to various bureaucratic mismanagement, however, such information demands can’t usually be met.

The usual reasons given by those responsible is that of cost overruns from previous projects may be repeated again, employee resistance to change and other luddite-like responses. However with the growth of the Internet-of-Things concept and availability – more than ever such networks can be dragged into the 21st century for all those invested in it. Although there will be an expense in doing so, over time the efficiencies gained with more and relevant information along with customer satisfaction through empowerment via knowledge will repay the expense over many times.

But what can be done to make these changes? There are many changes, such as the following examples that can be introduced to find greater efficiencies and information relevance in the network.

For example, using a combination of IoT network technologies such as cellular and Wi-Fi in combination with traditional copper-wire networks, it is plausible to have network connectivity between all trains, buses and trams, their central control centres, the stations and stops – where commuters are provided with timely information updates via electronic displays, and Internet-based customer information services that are provided via the Web or smartphone applications. Considering the cost of a railway carriage, a new bus or tram – the additional hardware expense is negligible and can be retrofitted to existing stock.


It is also possible to keep maintenance contractors, security staff or emergency services “in the loop” as a part of this network of data – which is largely generated automatically by sensors, GPS receivers and user-interfaces across the network. This means that staff can be quickly and efficiently dispatched where and when attention is required, providing the greatest level of reliable maintenance or security where it is needed, in a highly efficient fashion with reduced labour intensity – and cost.

Vehicles such as trams can use on-board GPS receivers to report their position in real time to the central command centre via the tram’s data link to the network. This allows breakdowns or delays due to traffic disruption to be quickly identified. Real-time timetable updates can then be made available to passengers via intelligent displays at tram stops – or directly to commuters via apps on Internet-connected smart phones. This gives the external customers a much greater satisfaction as they are in control of their transport plans.

Furthermore with a variety of sensors one can consider trains and other vehicles recording and reporting information from the vehicle’s embedded electronics about faults and maintenance issues that require attention by operators – for example problems with HVAC systems or doors, as well as maintenance issues that require regularly scheduled attention after a certain numbers of hours or kilometres of operation. Thus a vehicle can offer real-time reports on itself for immediate or planned maintenance.

Due to the volume of data generated – useful information can be derived from correlating data from multiple sources. For example, customer fare payment data can be used to identify the most popular (and most congested) parts of the public transport network, or parts of the network that are experiencing a growth in consumer demand. Additional vehicles and more frequent services can then be assigned to the areas where they are most needed – or where they are likely to be most needed in the near future. Such predictions can also help with planning for future capital expenditure.


Although these and many other examples may relate to public transport systems – the ideas and solutions are transferable to any fleet-based transport system of almost any size. Understanding your fixed and mobile assets by receiving real-time information from them – instead of manually checking on periodic intervals – is the more intelligent and efficient method of maximising asset use while minimising expenses.

Creating such systems – or modifying existing isolated devices can be a challenge, and perhaps an insurmountable task. However by choosing the right partner to work through your requirements and offer a solution you can realise the efficiencies and savings mentioned. And here at the LX Group we have the experience and team to make things happen. Our goal is to find and implement the best system for our customers, and this is where the LX Group can partner with you for your success.

We can create or tailor just about anything from a wireless temperature sensor to a complete Internet-enabled system for you – within your required time-frame and your budget. For more information or a confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Muhammad AwaisUsing the IoT for more efficient transport systems

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