A Head in the CloudThe Trapeze Team | June 01, 2015
We already know that Real-Time Passenger Information (RTPI) systems are critical to delivering a more comfortable, relaxing and reliable service to public transport users. It is therefore no surprise to see evidence that RTPI increases ridership; after all, if we want people to make better use of public transport then it’s a good idea to give them tools to do so effectively.
However, RTPI systems are notoriously complex, regularly involving multiple stakeholders and requiring delivery expertise across multiple departments. As a result, often the most significant costs don’t actually derive from the RTPI system itself – but rather from the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) resource and infrastructure required to implement and maintain it.
Perhaps this is why we are increasingly seeing a recognition that a Cloud-based approach is the best solution for back-end RTPI systems.
Of course, this trend isn’t limited to the delivery of RTPI: the rise of the Cloud is a global phenomenon, with 71% of us believing cloud, rather than desktop, is the future.
Cloud technology has long since taken care of our personal needs – but it is increasingly a business tool, too. Indeed, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels believes we are witnessing the rise of the “industrial cloud, where industrial environments are equipped with sensors producing data to improve efficiency and reliability.”
Interestingly, Vogels also suggests cloud has obvious benefits for public transport: “public transport companies are instrumenting their [vehicles] with sensors that feed into platforms that can give real-time updates to travellers.”
The rise of Cloud-based systems in public transport is the subject of this article by Trapeze’s Peter Bell, in which he cites easy deployment; and simple, cost-effective maintenance as key advantages.
Choosing the right cloud
For all this exciting talk of a ‘Cloud revolution’, it is important to remember – as Peter notes in his article – that “as with any new technology that is attracting a significant amount of hype, many are stretching the definition of Cloud to include their own technologies.”
Wired Magazine makes a similar point: “All clouds are not created equal, and while there are many cloud technologies and vendors, there are many types of clouds” – not all of which will be fit for purpose.
It is therefore important to distinguish between ‘true’ Cloud (read: browser-based) systems and those which may superficially appear to be so. A simple distinction is that a genuine browser-based system is accessed over the Internet via a web browser, with no local desktop installation whatsoever.
Adopting a true Cloud solution will provide you with greater security controls in line with Public Services Network (PSN) agreements; improved performance in terms of responsiveness; and greater ease of use by staff – who can of course work remotely where required.
Additionally, given that transport endeavours tend to be shared across multiple local authorities and bus operators co-operating within a region, adopting a Cloud-based approach will facilitate and simplify essential co-operation with regional partners, resulting in better data quality for passengers.
However, perhaps most importantly for many public transport providers, a true Cloud system will remove much of the requirement for ICT overhead and infrastructure, thereby delivering significant cost savings.
For these reasons and others, we at Trapeze now deploy Cloud-based RTPI systems through a browser interface, with the software running in Trapeze’s hosting centre. We believe if you want to cut costs, streamline ICT and improve quality of RTPI data, Cloud is the obvious way to go.
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