article 27 September

Disruption Messaging – data power to the public

By Johan Herrlin
This article was published on on June 26th 2019.

More accurate public transport information will allow passengers to receive better information during travel disruptions, argues Johan Herrlin, CEO, Ito World.
Travel disruption is a well-publicised source of frustration for passengers and can be made worse by inaccurate, inconsistent, or out-dated information all of which can contribute to uncertainty on journey progression.
Equally frustrating for authorities and service operators is the current inefficiency of having to update many different systems – often manually – with the same information. It is easy to see how, especially in rapidly changing situations, inconsistent and untimely updates can occur.
These are the very reasons that we at Ito World has partnered with Transport for the North (TfN) to pioneer a ‘Disruption Messaging’ solution, which will transform these outdated processes, and dramatically improve the quality and speed of information reaching passengers during times of disruption.
The new tool is part of Phase Two of TfN’s £150m, Department for Transport funded, Integrated and Smart Travel (IST) programme. It will allow local authorities and service operators to enter travel disruption information once and seamlessly output consistent messages to customers across all their touchpoints including social media feeds, real-time displays and journey planners along with recommended alternative travel arrangements.
Ito World’s Transit Hub is the underlying platform for the new tool. The platform works by ingesting transit and related data in any format, for all modes and all operators in a city or region.
Datasets including transit schedules, real-time updates, disruptions, and fares are constantly processed to improve accuracy using advanced algorithms as well as expert interventions.
The data is remodelled to create an always up-to-date, accurate model of the entire transit system providing a single-source of truth to power downstream systems such as journey planners.
The ‘Disruption Messaging’ tool will be an innovative add-on, enabling authorities and transport operators to input specific information about current and future disruptions in their region or on their network.
These disruptions could be both pre-planned, such as roadworks, and unplanned, such as a road accident or flooding. Users of the tool will be able to specify what services or geographical area will be affected, enter recommended solutions and a precise time period for the disruption.
The data provided will then be distributed consistently through multiple channels via TfN’s ‘Open Data Hub’.
This open data will then also be available for third-party app developers to use, providing further opportunity for innovation.
Ito World’s strategy is to deliver data that is as close to the real-life experience of the traveller as possible, and the Disruption Messaging add-on is key to this.
We argue that consistent, accurate data is integral to building the trust that members of the public have in the public transport network and enabling them to make smart travel decisions – all of which is essential for a true Mobility as a Service (MaaS) world of the future.
The new tool is initially being trialled by the 19 local authorities within the TfN region, including the likes of Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), South Yorkshire Public Transport Executive (SYPTE), West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), Nexus and MerseyTravel.
The tool will also be available nationally to other local authorities and transport operators following its launch in early 2020.