Apr 24, 2013

Mobile Internet and Web Services in Public Transportation

The tremendous growth in the popularity and affordability of today`s light weight, compact and easy to use smart devices like phones, tablets, ultra note books has created an enormous demand for instant and easy connectivity. The accelerated growth of free WIFI in public places, restaurants, department stores and others drive the expectation for “connectivity everywhere” even in today’s and future public transportation. The habit of just “pull out” the smart device (even though most of the people carry it in their hand permanently anyway!), switch it on, touch the Icon and you are connected almost immediately” is the way today’s passenger expect a transportation enterprise to support their lifestyle.

Therefore the fact is: Connectivity has become a lifestyle

The consequence is that this feature is expected not only on public places and buildings or shopping centers, but also on long distance and urban trains, as well as in city range metro`s , buses and trams.

Mobile Internet in public transportation therefore has become an important point to consider, beyond the traditional train- and connection information on fixed overhead screens. Even the long hesitating airline industry is moving in that direction with their ”In flight communication” offering.

Competition is increasingly driving the uptake of new broadband wireless services in trains. In almost every European country where rival operators are battling it out for customers on the same or similar routes, we have seen the launch of on-board Wi-Fi. First, on the carriages operated by the newcomer as it tries to differentiate its service, then, very quickly after, on the incumbent’s trains – as it feels stung into action.

What is the business case?
  • Study of ridership patterns showed that adding Wi-Fi to trains had, by itself, raised ridership figures by 3% across the board
  • Translated to larger fleets could raise tens of millions of €/£/$ in extra ticket revenues
  • There is no unique business model to adopt when considering Wi-Fi services on-board
  • There are actually 3 different models for charging for the services and looks like free or mixed charging are becoming most popular alternatives
Various public train operators have already made that move and are highly impressed by the success and the advantages given plus the extra income to prime up their revenues. In today’s times any extra income is highly welcome to contribute to the revenues.

The benefits

So, what are the potential benefits for an operator to justify such an investment?

This IP connectivity for internet access offers the unique possibility for the operators to be in real time contact with their passengers not only via the fixed overhead video screens, but more important and efficient directly interactive on the customer personal devices.

The sale of advertisement space and entertainment features is a perfect platform for additional considerable revenues by these unsurpassed “location, real time and focus” features. That is THE advantage of the “mobile case”.

Through the train log-in process a direct startup “operator” screen can be presented for important information related to the travel and the availability of specific services.

P.I.M.: Passenger Information Management and P.E.M.: Passenger Experience Management therefore become the buzz words in successful mastering the efficiency and success of on board WiFi in modern public transportation systems.

Specific Real Time information about operator/train related issues:
  • Current location
  • Timing
  • Destinations
  • Connections
  • Recommended switch over
  • In the case of delays or disturbances will increase the passenger experience extremely positive
  • “Frequent traveler” club loyalty programs and sweepstakes

Besides that information part, there is an additional opportunity for the operator on internet revenues for providing access to their portal for commercial and advertisements or the implementation of :
  • Real time information about general issues
  • Location based geographical information
  • Touristic sites and viewpoints
  • Advertisement for points of Sale, special offers ( department stores, jewelleries, restaurants)
  • Events, tickets 

The requirements

The basic and most important requirement for this is an absolute reliable and stable communication from train to ground during the whole travel. Even when changing trains of the same operator an automatic handover without a new log in should be made possible. To achieve both goals, comfortable and rich internet environment and reliable connections on the train are the mandatory prerequisites. Nothing is more image harming then offering something to a large audience that does not work properly.

One solution to fullfil these requirements is created by Goodmill and Limitis. The companies have joined forces on a project basis to combine best practice from both, communication and IT/Internet guarantee a seamless implementation. Goodmill systems limited is a trail blazer in mobile broadband connectivity that insures constant data flow in demanding conditions where 24/7 connectivity is critical. Limitis broadband has broad experience as an independent internet service provider. Web hosting, co-location, maintenance services for domains as well as mail and mail security is their offering for customers. Information management guarantees an optimal mix and match of competences for bringing customer needs and operator requirements together.

Sigurd Schilling


Apr 5, 2013

Using Mobile Devices and Routers in Police Applications

A most recent killer application for critical mobile connectivity in policing is to have a system with VPN client based systems used in the laptops or other smart devices and a router solution in the vehicle. In this blog I have summarized some demands and key benefits of this approach.

Critical Connectivity from Mobile Devices
In this approach the VPN client in the mobile device is able to use one or two links towards the network and is an excellent solution whenever the vehicle is not nearby. The requirements for the VPN solution include solid security, seamless connectivity, session persistence as well as seamless roaming between networks. Many mobile solutions fail to deliver the anticipated benefits due to ease of use and connectivity issues. A specially designed mobile VPN is designed to provide a secure, LAN-like user experience.

As this might be enough for many solutions officers are using today, it is not enough alone for mission critical applications. A seamless functionality with a vehicle router whenever near, gives an excellent combination of critical connectivity from the devices and mission critical connectivity for all online vehicle systems.

Ensuring Mission Critical Connectivity

For many law enforcement applications it is mission critical to have a constant flow of information on the field. Mobile multi-channel routers provide a reliable, fast, and secure broadband connection between the vehicles and the command center for mission critical needs. Goodmill w24e is the first router in the world to provide seamless and reliable switching between several different broadband data networks using technologies like LTE, 3G HSPA, CDMA2000/450, WiFi, WiMAX and TETRA. In case of a connection failure the solution immediately reroutes the traffic through another network. This ensures reliable connectivity even when the vehicles are constantly on the move.

The actual quality of the available broadband networks might be a surprise to many officers. The dynamic nature of the networks, including future dedicated networks, demands a solution that combines networks. This is presented from actual tests run data collected from a moving vehicle.

Many policing applications used today are mission critical and require high availability. These include applications such as
  • Access to sensitive databases
    • Criminal records, vehicle databases, medical databases etc.
  •  Command and control applications
    • Position sharing / unit status sharing applications
  •  Online streaming video
  •  License Plate Recognition
  •  VoIP applications
Information sharing between jurisdictions is a valuable tool for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of Police operations. These important applications are only possible to realize with broadband connectivity ensured by hybrid network approach provided by advanced VPN client software, multichannel routers and supporting backend solutions.

Juhani Lehtonen
Goodmill Systems Ltd