Moveuskadi implements on the cloud model for transit data interconnection as basis for a global information service for public transport
The Basque Government’s Transportation Department has moved forward the Spanish Royal Decree 662/2012 of 13th of April and has already developed an integrated system for offering transit data to citizens through value added services.
Transportation reality is complex and heterogeneous (various competence levels diverse data source systems and technological maturity in service providers multiple actors). Giving citizens unified transport data options requires high levels of investment large time to market and large amount of resources in production. The Cloud and the new SaaS models besides the new technologies for transport and geo-positioning data and the new system architectures based on them offer new more efficient more scalable and optimum solutions.
Project Moveuskadi integrates all the Basque Country’s transport data in only 3 months with a very low investment thanks to these new technologies; offering different information services to citizens and having the data always updated.
Royal Decree 662/2012 establishes the framework for the implementation of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) in road transport and for interfaces with other transport modes.
The countless international experiences show that the only efficient way to deal with the continuing increase in demand is the use and application of information technology and communications in the field of road transport.
To solve this situation on 7 July 2010 the European Parliament and Council adopted the Directive 2010/40/UE laying down the framework for the implementation of intelligent transport systems in the field of road transport.
This Royal Decree establishes among other things that ITS should be based on interoperable systems open and public standards and available without discrimination to all providers and users of applications and services.
In addition it sets out several priority areas and activities. One of the Priority actions is the provision of multimodal travel information and real time traffic information.
Moveuskadi (www.moveuskadi.com) is completely aligned with this Directive. Moveuskadi integrates information about 40 transit agencies in the Basque Country (what supposes 400 routes and more than 4000 stops). All this information is integrated and homogenised in a Saas platform. This platform is provided by i2MApp Innovación en Movilidad S.L. company (specialised in ITS technologies for citizen’s information). MoviTransit platform (as it is called) automatically integrates all transit information and provides it through different value added services for citizens. MoviTransit has been adapted to Moveuskadi platform. Thanks to it the Basque Government offers a high quality information service with very low cost and very short time-to-market. Information has been standardised (GTFS format) and allows interoperability among systems.
BASQUE COUNTRY’S TRANSPORTATION REALITY
The Basque Country (Euskadi) is made up of 3 provinces 258 municipalities and has more than 2.000.000 inhabitants. It is one of the 17 Autonomies that form Spain. Municipalities are responsible for urban transport the provinces for suburban and interurban road transport; the Basque Government is the manager of the Basque railways and the Spanish Government of the national rail system. This disaggregation of responsibilities makes it difficult to generate a unique and centralised platform to integrate all agents.
On the other hand there are more than 40 public transport companies. Their technological capabilities vary from each other strongly. Each transport company offered their own information in their own formats. Public Transport information was partial incomplete and not easy to understand. Transfers between two agencies were difficult to plan for citizens because of this lack of information. Definitively the information was very fragmented and it was difficult for citizens to manage their own mobility in public transport.
Moveuskadi system (“Green mobility in Euskadi”) have had to manage to go through proprietary systems and defined a platform that includes systems models and new technologies in order to integrate all agents implied in public transport.
The Transport Department of Euskadi conscious about this fact proposed the integration of all agents through an integrated system developed in Moveuskadi project.
In order to offer up-to-date transit information to make possible for all transit agencies in Basque Country integrate in the platform all optimising time and costs there were some requirements to accomplish:
Companies with IT infrastructure shouldn’t need to make special work for integrating in the platform. It was necessary to offer mechanisms to capture from their systems their data in a not intrusive way so as the daily processes of the company were not affected.
Companies with no IT infrastructure also must be integrated in the platform so it was necessary to provide means to let them digitalise and provide their data and allow them to be integrated in the platform the same way “big agencies” are.
The data should always be up to date (to provide credible information and gain citizens’ trust) but the human intervention for that needs to be the least. This way the production and maintenance costs are minimised.
Integrated data should be used as an input to generate services in different formats and platforms. Data should be independent from its representation. These are services to be offered: multimodal trip planner (Google Transit) schedule planner guided service for smartphones interest points service.
All the costs must be related to specific transport parameters (like number of routes or stops) and to the proper services; not to passive elements (like servers bandwidth etc.).
The first step was to define and choose the adequate technology. MoviTransit platform offers:
- Intelligent connections for interconnecting data sources. These connections connect to agencies’ IT systems in a not intrusive way and capture required transit data (routes stops trips fares schedule etc.). This information is integrated in the interconnection central node. The connections detect any modification made in the data source (modifications made by the agency through their IT systems) and communicate it to the central. This way the whole system is always updated.
- TransitEditor® Online Transportation GIS service for allowing small agencies (or agencies with no IT infrastructure) digitalise and manage their data. It provides a very easy and intuitive service for managing transportation data. This data is integrated in the central interconnection node. Any data update made through TransitEditor would be automatically communicated to the central.
- Central interconnection node: homogenises and stores the information. Provides the required data to the services.
- Information services: multimodal trip planner customisable schedules smartphone apps etc .
The entire platform implements an On The Cloud technology and permits to accumulate and scale the interconnected data avoiding access limitations proper of Public Administrations.
Figure 1. System Model
The system is formed by 5 components: (1) Intelligent Automatic Connection. (2) Interconnection Node. (3) Transportation GIS. (4) Exporter. (5) Services.
The most important result is that nowadays Basque Government has a “On the cloud system” that interconnects all Euskadi’s agencies and feeds a number of services. This permits for the first time to have all the information about lines routes schedules itineraries organised and completed for all the public agencies and citizens are given the proper information.
Agencies provide their data in their own format having none penalties or cost for them. This connection model is extensible for further services. The model is easy to understand and eliminates main barriers for participating. The connection model is easy to adapt if changes appear and is not intrusive.
Data is updated automatically. This means no costly data dump is needed anymore. So the development of the platform is made only once with the subsequent optimisation of resources and maintenance.
Basque Government reached an integration of 40 different agencies in 3 months and with a very little budget (annual license based on the number of routes integrated in the system).
PRODUCTS & SERVICES
Thanks to the data integration it is possible for the Basque Government to offer a website that centralises public transport information offering it through different value added services for citizens:
- Multimodal trip planner: Google Transit Platform is used to give this service. The data is converted to General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format automatically.
- Customisable schedules service: allows to generate customised schedules to travel between two locations. These schedules can be downloaded printed and saved so as the user can always carry them.
- Applications for smartphones: A guided application for smartphones has been deployed. It consists on a public transport GPS Navigator that guides the user to travel in public transport between two locations. The application detects if the user arrives late or if he has to drop off in the next stop and emits a warning.
- Getting to interest points: Service to get to the interest points using public transport.
- Services for developers: in order to reach the traction other sectors and to gain value with no new investments the Basque Government releases the data in two different ways:
- Developers API: In order to permit open development of further services and to maintain Google Independence a Developer’s API was deployed.
- GTFS data liberation: the data from all the companies’ has been released in GTFS standard format in order to permit third party developments.
- Services for Feeding Public Administration systems: The global transportation data is transformed to GIS compatible data (ESRI Shapefile) so Public Administration can acquire it and use it for further mobility studies and decisions.
Heterogeneity of transportation data has demanded a solution that integrates all transport data and makes a common treatment of them in order to offer to the citizens the services that allow them to manage their own mobility in function of their needs.
Gathering and standardising information in the Interconnection Node permits a common process of data and generation of multiple value-added services.
Making the connection automatic avoids the need of sending any update so as human intervention is minimised and cost of maintenance and public resources destined to this are optimised.
This model is extensible for other areas including broader areas like 2 states or two regions for example and build broader trip planner with little cost. Basque Government’s aim is to spread it in the whole Spain. There is no need of a very high technological profile in order to offer advanced services to citizen. Nevertheless the biggest challenge is not technology but are the people. Only with the collaboration of all the involved agents it is possible to develop a project to integrate unify and keep updated all the transportation data.
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Original Publication Date: Fri 04 May 2012