The Plug&Play standard for public transport develops rapidly

Intelligent traffic systems (ITS) are enabling effective traffic planning as well as fluent, flexible, and easily available public transport services. Intelligent traffic systems make it easier to use public transport and to control ticket and information systems.

Telematics, information systems in vehicles, passenger information services, ticket systems, safety and monitoring of driving manners are now commonplace even outside big cities. The new services improve efficiency, safety, and service in public transport.

Services develop, equipment control lags behind

Despite development, there are still problems, especially with equipment. Most of the devices, modules, communication buses, computers and monitoring systems required by ITS services are installed in the vehicles afterwards. A vehicle may have three different location systems which use three different data links and send data in three different forms. The couplings and wirings are manufacturer-specific, and the installation work has not been streamlined.

Because of lack of standardization, maintenance of equipment is expensive and difficult. When the system supplier and the equipment architecture have been chosen, it is practically impossible to update the system or utilize services or modules from others.

The EN13149 standard – a promise of a better future

The EN13149 parts 7-9 define the standards for communication between devices and modules, connections and services connected to the internal network of a vehicle. The definition was largely based on existing Transmodel and Netex standards.

The DNS-SD and mDNS protocols make it possible for devices connected to the network to exchange information and services. Each module sends information about its services to the vehicle network, and any other module can start using the services it needs. In this way, each module in the network can offer services and utilize services offered by other modules. For example, a location module sends location data to the other devices, so the vehicle needs only one source of location data.

(Kuva: ITxPT)

Features of the Plug&Play architecture

  • One LAN network for data distribution. One communication bus offering WIFI, sound and data services. One hub for equipment control. An IP bridge for CAN/FMS buses.
  • Distribution of data to and from devices, for example: location, driver information, vehicle terminal.
  • Secure contacts with public transport customers: ticket systems, performances, and efficiency.
  • Secure services for producers and operators: driving manners, telematics, vehicle data (reading CAN buses).

Standardization promises cost savings

As it becomes more and more common that vehicle platforms, devices and services are certified according to standards, different suppliers can operate in the same hardware environment. This in turn makes it possible for genuine competition to develop between service providers and component suppliers. At the same time, it will also be possible to utilize alternative service providers and modules simultaneously, and to send data to different public transport companies in real time.

In 2014, to promote the spreading of the Plug&Play architecture, the ITxPT organization (Information Technology for Public Transport) was established. Some of the members of the organization are public transport companies (Arriva, Transport for London, Keolis, Transdev, Västtrafik Göteborg), vehicle manufacturers (Alstom, Iveco, Volvo, Scania), IT companies (Actia, Continental, Init, Ineo, Pilotfish). At the 2020 Persontrafik (passenger traffic) Fair in Stockholm, the organization was well represented, and it seems evident that vehicle manufacturers as well as equipment and service suppliers will soon embrace the ITxPT organization and the EN13149 standard.

Kiho prepares for increasing amounts of data

In Finland, public transport architecture has not been discussed very much. In other European countries, demands concerning ITxPT and Plug&Play architecture are already included in competitions of public and intelligent transport services. The leading developer and equipment integrator of IoT services in intelligent transport in Finland, Kiho actively participates in the standardization work led by the organizations ITxPT and UITP (International Association of Public Transport).

The opening of data buses in a vehicle and devices means in practice a massive addition to the number of devices to be administered, and to the transfer and processing of the data the devices produce. Kiho supports the latest IoT technologies, such as the MQTT protocol and the small code footprint it enables. Kiho’s integration platform makes it possible to utilize location data from a large number of platforms and types of devices, and also, in real time, to convert data into the form to be used.

Kiho’s managing director Antti Koponen comments on the possibilities of ITxPT: “Thanks to ITxPT, operators avoid vendor lock and can pick out the best tools from equipment and software suppliers without overlapping components. I hope the same kind of customer-oriented innovation and cooperation that is now rapidly developing with our bus systems is also experienced in other fields.”

A modular and open equipment architecture makes maintenance work easier for public transport companies, and it also enables free innovation and the development of totally new IoT services in the field of public transport.

Tommi Järvinen
branch manager, the bus field
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