Forging New ICT Open Standards for Public Transport

We’ve been working hard on a new issue of Connection magazine – coming soon – and we’re excited to give you a sneak peak at one of the latest articles below!

Imagine if different versions of WiFi were not backwards compatible, and you needed a different WiFi adapter to connect your smart devices or laptops in different locations. Tait’s UK-based General Manager – Transport, Jamie Bishop, shares the current state of play in Public Transport IT standards, and the benefits that ITxPT will be bringing to the Public Transport sector.

Standards are a key part of our daily lives; everything that we touch or interact with has been developed to a standard, the plug that connects your kettle to make your morning cup of tea, to the fuel that powers your car or bus that takes you to work. Imagine how life would be, if each appliance in your house used a different plug into your mains electricity or the type of fuel was specific to your make of car. Or… heaven forbid… you couldn’t mix Mac and Microsoft operating systems!

Standards gave us freedom of choice for consumers and enterprise businesses, ensuring that there is no need for a proprietary, wholesale, big-bang upgrade of IT equipment whenever a new device comes along.

Telecoms standards released by the 3GPP enabled global adoption of cellular technology with roaming around the world.  PMR/LMR standards –Tetra, APCO P25 and more recently DMR – enable interoperability between devices and networks, and choice of connected applications from different vendors. In fact, we have all started to take standards for granted.

However, IT in public transport standards are less mature. Over several decades, Tait has developed numerous public transport radio systems, and almost every case, has required costly, bespoke interface development between mobile radio, on-board systems and the back office.

ITxPT – driving standards for Public Transport

The ITxPT (Information Technology for Public Transport) Association has been formed to share experience and best practices to evolve a working standard for public transport IT systems – from the vehicles right through to back office.

The Association will specify communication protocols and hardware interfaces for full interoperability, so that Public Transport operators and authorities can specify certified Plug and Play functionality when they purchase new or upgraded IT systems. Common mechanisms, standards and protocols will allow them to use data for buses, rail, coaches and tramways anywhere in Europe.

Participating ITxPT members can access the ITxPT platform to test devices and applications in real operational conditions. The test bench will specify, test, qualify and showcase IT solutions, as well as evolving new solutions. Through the association, members will contribute their collective knowledge and expertise, to dedicated working groups.

Radio communications and ITxPT

Tait Communications has joined ITxPT as a Principal Member, alongside a wide eco-system of key transport stakeholders. (To date, Tait is the only radio communications company to join.)

“In the communications world, we champion open-standards technology,” says John Gardener, Chief Technology Officer of Tait Communications in Europe. “In joining the ITxPT initiative we aim to contribute to the development of these standards for the public-transport sector.”

Tait has been providing critical communication solutions to transport operators and authorities for nearly 50 years and is committed to interoperable, open-standards-based solutions. By connecting intelligent transport system (ITS) infrastructure in the control centre, on the streets and in vehicles, Tait data transmission and high-reliability voice communication provide operators with tools that greatly enhance passenger service.

Source: ITxPT

Tait Communications is working with key ITS providers and leading transport authorities and operators in Europe (London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Pilsen), the Americas (Portland, Sao Paulo) and Australasia (Queensland, Victoria, New Zealand, Indonesia) to design, implement and commission such communication solutions.

“This rich seam of knowledge and experience allows us to influence and drive discussions with ITxPT’s broad membership of vehicle manufacturers and operators, transport authorities, ITS, application and service providers around the world,” John Gardener says. As an example, the IT architecture developed in the European Bus System of the Future project and the Transport for London trial has paved the way for cost-effective deployment of on board digital systems and back office applications on the vehicles.

“Open standards are a core aspect of the solutions and services we offer and advocate for, whether it is with the FCC in the USA, ETSI in Europe or 3GPP on the development of global cellular standards. The ultimate goal is to be in the position where, regardless of the sector our customers operate in, communications interoperability and vehicle integration is a given,” says John.

Who are ITxPT members?

Find out about Tait solutions for transport here, or see how we’ve helped London Bus upgrade their 10,000-strong fleet.

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