Rambus Ecebs: Our top 5 predictions for 2017

January 10, 2017

The UK boasts many successful smart ticketing schemes outside its capital – such as the Robin Hood Network in Nottingham, Nexus Pop in Tyne and Wear and Bramble on the Glasgow subway. The next step for the ticketing industry is connecting these localised ‘islands’ so that we can move to a truly national (and eventually international) smart ticketing network, as voiced earlier this year by Chris Grayling, the UK Government Transport Secretary.

Could this vision become a reality in 2017, what are the building blocks that need to be achieved and why is smart ticketing so important to the transport industry?

1. Building systems around the evolving needs of passengers.

Passengers and transport operators alike want ticketing to be more flexible, easier and intuitive. By modernising the ticketing process, transport operators will enable passengers to access, purchase and download tickets when convenient to them and offer fare options that are tailored to their individual needs.

Transport operators will consider how to advance multi-modal systems that support different form factors and the vast demographics that they serve; young, old, un-banked, smartphone savvy. ‘Integration’ will be key. How can new and disruptive technologies be incorporated into existing and established systems cost-effectively?

2. Optimising the capabilities of smartphones.

The industry is increasingly embracing the power of smartphone technology. We expect to see additional HCE mobile ticketing pilots following the launch of the Transport for the North HCE pilot in the UK in 2016.

In addition to helping passengers access the benefits of mobile ticketing today – as HCE-based tickets are compatible with the existing smart ticketing infrastructure, saving deployment time and costs – HCE has the potential to transform mobile ticketing apps. As HCE enables a virtual smart card to be stored on a smartphone, it has two key advantages when compared with barcode-based apps:

a. It offers a greater level of security.
b. It works on existing infrastructure

Rambus Ecebs has received strong interest from transport operators in HCE mobile ticketing, so 2017 could be the year it starts to really gain traction across the UK.

Getting to grips with account-based ticketing (ABT).

Without doubt, the buzz around ABT is set to continue. While ABT is not a new concept, it is certainly coming of age. The key appeal for transport operators is transiting from a closed-loop system (where the right to travel or ticket is stored on the smart card or other device) to an open-loop system (where a passenger can use an identifier or token that links to an account held in the backend system). ABT is capable of supporting multiple customer media types, including mobile devices.

Moving from a closed-loop to open-loop system represents a real opportunity for transport operators to reduce costs as deducting payment at the point of travel requires a complex and costly infrastructure to validate and issue tickets or smart cards. ABT removes many of these overheads and ‘opens’ up ticketing systems. Crucially, we see interoperability as the key driver for mass adoption of ABT deployments.

The Power of Data.

The travel data collected through smart ticketing is powerful and, at present, underutilised. As transport operators become more familiar with this data there is a desire to fully capture door-to-door travel requirements.  For example, does the passenger use a bus, followed by a subway and then a train? Transport operators are beginning to recognise the potential of smart travel data to better understand their passenger needs, which will inform business and operational decisions. A Data Warehouse transforms access to meaningful travel data that can be easily visualised and understood.

Could 2017 be the year transport operators realise the true value of a Data Warehouse in understanding fully their passengers transport journeys and needs

Looking beyond traditional boundaries. 

We have long supported the development of smart ticketing open standards. Within the UK, we are a key advocate and contributor to ,and internationally, play a role in the OSPT Alliance . Both bodies are working to develop a standardised ticketing specification that makes travelling seamless and easier, avoids vendor lock-in and promotes commercial partnerships.

Investment to establish a standardised automated fare collection framework will continue throughout 2017. The aim is to help to replicate systems beyond the obvious transport-hubs, such as capital cities, as well as enable new partnerships with commercial vendors that would add value to the passenger, many of whom would be unable to invest in closed-loop, proprietary systems.

2017 will be the year we begin to see the joining up of smart ticketing systems across the UK. The building blocks are being implemented and the value of a smart ticketing infrastructure to support new technologies and generate passenger data is unquestionable.

Discussions, however, are not just focused on the here and now. Long-term evolutions are also emerging as part of today’s ticketing strategies. Beacon technology linked to an ABT system, for example, is seen as an enabler of ‘invisible’ transport barriers – a completely frictionless experience in which the fare is calculated by the operator and paid for by the traveller without any direct interaction from either party. It is unlikely that truly frictionless fare collection will exist in the near-term, but this is just one example that is viewed by many in the industry as inevitable.

If you would like to discuss your transport ticketing challenges and requirements in 2017 and beyond, please contact Rambus Ecebs or join us atTransport Ticketing Global, stand A37, 24 & 25 January 2017.

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