Fast track to a digital railway
08 May 2017
Take a train just about anywhere in the UK today and there’s one thing you are guaranteed to see on your journey
The beautiful British countryside racing past your window? A friendly smile across from your table seat? Some interesting urban graffiti in a frighteningly unlikely location? The buffet trolley?
Actually, there’s no guarantee you’ll see any of the above. But assuming there are fellow passengers on board, you could lay money on the fact that you’ll see this: heads bowed to meet hands slightly raised, and eyes in lock down. Oh, and smartphones. Lots of busy smartphones.
Whether you’re taking a short commuter hop or a long-distance service, it’s pretty much the same story: we are addicted to our portable technology. It’s the one travel buddy most of us couldn’t contemplate making a trip without.
In the ten years since it first hit the mass consumer market (the iPhone launched in January 2007) the smartphone has impacted almost every aspect of how we live our lives.
It’s how we keep up with our friends, check our email, order the week’s shopping and navigate an unknown town or city.
It’s increasingly how many of us meet our partners. Whatever it is that we’re doing with them, more than eighty per cent of the UK population now has a smartphone and collectively we look at them more than a billion times a day. A BILLION times a day.
Last year there were 1.7 billion passenger journeys on UK railways, with an average of more than 4.5 million passengers travelling on any given day. On the basis that 80 per cent of those passengers had one with them, that would mean around 1.3 billion smartphones are travelling on our trains over the course of the year and 3.6 million on any given day.
The fact is, the digital age isn’t just coming, it has arrived and it’s currently standing on platforms 1 through 22 and making good time all over the network. But as the industry starts to adapt and technology continues to evolve, how can Tocs make sure the age of mobile technology will work for them?
That’s a question that Glow New Media has been keen to answer since it launched ten years ago, coincidentally the same year that the iPhone first hit the shelves. Over the course of a decade, and working with local, national and international operators across different modes of passenger transport, the company has developed a whole suite of innovative systems and apps that are helping to maximise the potential of the real-time, always-on connectivity that the smartphone presents us with.
Recent projects include
User-centred passenger apps which are helping customers across the network make informed – and better – choices about their journeys based on the real-time information and data flows that they have at their fingertips.
Staff-centred mobile apps which, by improving real-time communication between operational employees, are enhancing the safety of staff on the ground as well as the efficiency and reliability of the rail network.
Customised multimodal dashboards which bring together real time information about different modes of transport, traffic circulation and environmental factors such as weather reports or large-scale events to deliver an integrated and holistic approach to transport planning.
The smartphone evolution is not yet complete. Technology will continue to evolve and disrupt the transport status quo. It is already changing the way customers move around and travel between towns and cities and how they access customer service. And it is a crucial tool for tackling the capacity issues which challenge the network.
Glow will continue to help its clients identify the best way to use this enormous digital potential. To innovate and create, to try and test and ultimately to use technology to support the continued growth and sustainability of the railway network.