By Paola Realpozo
As the interest and demand for more onboard applications is growing, so is the need for higher bandwidth data requirements. There is a significant focus on augmenting the number of applications and services onboard vehicles to provide increased safety, information, and connectivity to passengers, as well as real-time monitoring systems. When bus operators have a reliable connectivity solution with fully-managed services, they can focus on achieving their business goals knowing that their technology needs are covered in a cost-effective way.
An optimal bus connectivity solution is designed to help bus companies improve operations and generate new revenue streams. It begins with intelligent IoT gateways that offer multiple wired and wireless connectivity options for the highest amount of throughput at the lowest possible cost. Centralized management tools enable valuable insights on remote devices, network performance, user statistics, ridership reports, and more.
The’ onboard gateway serves as the central communications hub for all operational and passenger services that require high throughput connectivity, computation, and storage. The platform functions as the communications gatekeeper, determining what communication link to connect based on the operational goals and priorities of the bus operator. Communication can be provided by the LTE network or by Wi-Fi networks, when available, at stations or depots.
IoT Platforms: Technology advantages for operational cost-savings
Efficient use of the network
As more onboard diagnostics, passenger services, and safety applications are deployed, onboard connectivity becomes crucial. An industrial IoT platform allows transit agencies to have more efficient usage of the communication networks by intelligently conserving network bandwidth when computing data on the edge, and also by creating policies that assign priority to more critical applications.
In the case of an emergency, the operator-defined network policy can be such that when emergency video streaming is triggered, other non-critical applications are temporarily restricted.
More efficiencies can be achieved when cellular connectivity is optimized. If your IoT platform can do multi-carrier or multi-link aggregation, then your bus can stay connected using the least cost routing option. The platform drives traffic to the lowest cost carrier. Different cellular carriers have different rates, and if your network policy has rules around bandwidth quality and carrier costs, operators can save thousands of dollars on their monthly bill. Also, a smart communications gateway will know when a radio or Wi-Fi network is available, reducing the cost of cell communication even further.
A platform that can integrate multiple applications and sensors, compute and analyze data at the edge of the network and in a public, private or hybrid cloud, will help reduce the number of components that must be deployed, wired, and maintained. This is especially relevant for vehicles with multiple applications that require an antenna installed on the roof of the vehicle, or that require a box installed inside the cabin. A simplified architecture will reduce the total cost of ownership.
Saving time and resources
Operations management is key to operation efficiency as it also enables the remote monitoring, tracking, provisioning, troubleshooting and firmware/software updates of the communications gateway and onboard applications. No need to deploy employees to perform these tasks locally. This is very relevant when large fleets are equipped with communications gateways and their management becomes complex.
Connectivity-as-a-service: fully-managed services
When operators need connectivity onboard their fleet, it is important that they find the right technology with the flexibility to scale as needed, and with the option to use their capital or operational budgets. Connectivity-as-a-service provides a fully-managed service for vehicular connectivity, where operators do not have to incur upfront costs or keep IT staff to manage data plans or maintain the onboard infrastructure.
LILEE Connected Vehicle solutions for buses are powered with a flexible and future proof technology to provide consistent Internet access to riders. Thanks to LILEE’s open architecture, applications such as CCTV, automatic passenger counting, infotainment, and digital signage can be installed and run from the gateway’s application. Operators can also take advantage of built-in sensors (GPS, gyroscope, and accelerometer) in the LILEE IOT gateway to complement their safety and operations applications. Devices such as IP cameras or digital displays can be directly connected to and powered from the gateway using its multiple USB, HDMI, Serial, PoE ports. LILEE’s onboard Wi-Fi network also enables the delivery of passenger applications to their own personal mobile devices for a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model. These fully-managed connectivity solutions help bus operators to transform their fleets into Connected Vehicles for a better passenger experience and operational efficiency, with the best and most cost-effective communications technology.
Paola Realpozo is director of rail strategy at LILEE Systems. LILEE Systems provides solutions for passenger connectivity, and a range of other broadband solutions, including on-board entertainment and advertising, surveillance and security, fleet management, and positive train control.