Roch Muraine, global sales director for Transport at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise looks at current and future technologies that are moving us towards a multimodal transportation system to create a fully connected experience for air passengers, and how these trends are set to disrupt the way we travel forever.
The technology to create seamless or connected multimodal transportation exists, but many services are still being delivered to the end customer in a disconnected, piecemeal way. A journey to and from the airport might involve switching from a bus to a taxi and then the airplane, with tickets purchased for each separate stage from the different transport operators. In order to improve airport services, and keep up with the huge growth in air passenger numbers, we need to look at new ways to streamline services for travellers and simplify the provision of services for airport operators.
The connected experience – we’re already on our way
The multimodal experience starts on a passenger’s smartphone. There are already travel planning apps and websites for modes of transportation, times and costs to help get passengers to and from the airport, but even these are done through separate providers and intermodal systems.
Smart and e-ticketing are also here. From smartphone boarding passes to contactless card machines, the next step will be to offer one ticket for all travel. While simplifying travel for passengers, these ticketing systems are also useful to transportation operators as information gathered by smart systems can be analyzed to offer better services.
Single token travel is the next development in multimodal travel for airports—using a passenger’s biometrics and travel data to create a digital record and provide secure authentication. The technology has the potential to create a seamless journey for passengers by cutting the time taken for security checks, check-in and boarding.
But in order to achieve fully multimodal travel, transportation systems need to be connected both physically and operationally.
Keeping passengers connected
Communication is an important factor in the passenger journey – keeping passengers connected and informed improves their experience. At the same time, passenger smartphones, laptops and tablet devices are now ubiquitous – the same needs to be true for real-time data and communications for transportation operators.
Enterprises are shifting towards connected platforms, where people, processes and ‘things’ can connect and collaborate, airports included. The complicated community of stakeholders – airport operators, airlines, ground handlers, passengers, authorities and regulators – can all benefit from removing the barriers to information flow.
Collaboration services embedded in applications through a CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) model allow transportation authorities to provide real-time communications, such as messaging, voice and video, to provide scheduling updates, travel information, real-time interaction with staff and passengers and emergency notifications. All of this can be delivered via a single app, simplifying and enhancing the passenger experience.
In this way, airports can manage passenger movement, optimize operations and implement better emergency communications. Airlines can provide a hassle-free customer experience by relying on infrastructure such as beacons for automated notifications. Passengers can get real-time updates about estimated waiting time at security lines, locations of specific airline check-in counters, gates or baggage belts.
Retail concessions and restaurants can even use location-based services to promote offers which will lead to increased interaction with passengers and a subsequent increase in revenue. Critical passenger or situational information can be shared directly between relevant parties in real-time – getting the right information to the right people, exactly when it is needed.
Laying the groundwork with open data and APIs
Infrastructure based on open data and APIs will be important to push forward future transportation innovations and mobility solutions. Multimodal transportation involves different operators coming together to provide better travel, but they can’t provide this without knowing what’s going on around them. London Gatwick Airport has already reaped the rewards of closer collaboration with low-cost airlines, sharing live data to provide real-time updates and instructions for passengers on the airline’s mobile app.
A glimpse into the future
Multimodal transportation will completely transform the way we travel. The technology is already here, enabled by open APIs to offer a single ticket, payment and itinerary across different modes of transportation. But the groundwork – the network and systems that connect it all together – must be installed now if we are to take full advantage of seamless travel. This means having a secure and reliable network that keeps passengers and operators connected no matter what mode of transportation they’re using.