IBM harnesses IoT to help National Express provide UK customers with accurate rail times

Integrated information from sensors along the railtracks pinpoints a train’s location and provides exact punctuality information in real time using IBM Cloud

IBM harnesses IoT to help National Express provide UK customers with accurate rail times

IBM and National Express Group have announced a series of cloud-based innovations designed to enable the transport operator to improving operational performance and customer experience.

To stay ahead of competition and help anticipate travellers' needs, National Express’s UK rail franchise c2c is using the latest mobile technology to provide real-time travel planning, and data analytics to enable better business decision-making.

With the increase in use of mobile devices customers now expect accurate, real-time information and updates on the move. To satisfy customer expectations IBM and c2c devised customer experience innovations built on the IBM Cloud by IBM Interactive Experience which include:

• A new style of real-time mobile app for customers to easily plan their trip door to door by postcode. Customers can track specific trains, and even check if there is a coffee shop and other services available in stations. Regular disruption alerts will also be provided so customers are kept updated while on the move.
• Up-to-date information will be available to on-platform staff equipped with mobile devices to provide real time information to customers on train schedules and status.
• An ‘automatic delay repay’ application that will calculate delays up to the minute and automatically repay compensation owed to smart card holders each month. Expected delivery is by the end of 2015.
• Dashboards that enable staff to drill down into key performance indicator data including travel revenue, cancellations and delays, complaints, employee data, and customer and employee safety data – to derive valuable insights and situational awareness, often in real time. Using the IBM Cloud c2c will be able to analyse high volumes of previously fragmented information from external and internal sources.

“Our work with IBM provides the foundation for our plans to transform the experience of passengers when they travel with c2c,” said Ruth Harrison-Wood, commercial director for c2c.

“We knew intelligence could be driven from the high volumes of operational and customer data we generate daily. IBM has helped us get a holistic view of operations that will allow us to improve customer satisfaction in multiple areas, including delivering a first in UK rail with national postcode-to-postcode journey planning.”

How it works
Using data from the Internet of Things, IBM has integrated information from sensors, known as ‘timing points’, along the tracks to pinpoint a train’s location and provide exact punctuality information in real time. This data has been correlated with timetable information to enable punctuality reports based on station-to-station and full journey estimates.

“Detailed, personal punctuality reports for each passenger are just one way that real time, accurate data will help improve the customer experience,” explained Mike Tansey, executive, Travel & Transport, IBM. “This deal is a game changer in the rail industry as it represents fully integrated software-as-a-service solution that delivers insight, speed and agility for National Express.”

The solution is delivered via the IBM Intelligent Operations Centre, (IOC) a data management and analytics platform built on the IBM Cloud. Using a SaaS delivery model for the solution enables National Express to integrate data from multiple data sources across the company. The software can be rapidly deployed to deliver up information from sensors and devices and provide analytics used by the new apps.

“The cloud model enables us to work on a subscription basis, allowing us to expand as needs change, so improvements can be built-in quickly and cost-effectively,” concluded Ruth Harrison-Wood.

National Express is working with IBM Interactive Experience, a consultancy and systems integrator ranked the world's number one digital agency by revenue by Advertising Age, to improve customer engagement by using data analytics to deliver relevant, personalised brand experiences.

The apps are built using the IBM MobileFirst Platform, which includes a complete range of tools for developers to create, deploy, manage and secure mobile apps, on-premise or in the cloud, and is fully integrated with the IOC.

c2c selected IBM, and solutions implemented on the IBM Cloud and built by IBM Interactive Experience following a competitive bid.

 

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