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Adam Sharp, Services Delivery Director

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Melbourne train platform with waiting passengers and approaching train

In a world where instant information is becoming more and more important, in fact expected, it goes without saying that when it comes to public transport, getting real-time information is also expected. Providing a superior passenger customer experience is at the forefront of every transport leader’s mind, and real-time information is fundamental in doing this.

Real-time information is not new, but the protocol to provide real-time information is only just breaking into the Australian transport industry. What is it? It’s the SIRI protocol. No, not Apple’s Siri, but rather the Service Interface for Real-time Information (SIRI).

Providing a superior customer experience

Nobody likes to be standing at the platform looking at the public information display board and seeing it say that their train is arriving now, only to be looking down the track and not see any train arriving at the station. It is not only frustrating, but if this then happens regularly, it can also lead to very unhappy customers.

Not only does Toustone’s Real-Time Data Module, which was developed using the SIRI protocol, allow the customer to know exactly where their public transport service and vehicle is, but it also tells the customer if there is something wrong with one of the doors on the service, how many passengers are already on that service, if the lift or escalator is working at a station they need to go to and how many car spaces there are available.

This is one of the module’s stand out features; it goes beyond just the location of the service.

By providing all of this information, customers can be better informed and plan for their journey according to their travel needs. They will also be more likely to choose public transport when they know that they can rely on accurate and up-to-date information. There are many added benefits to having more public transport users in Australia, including helping reduce transport emissions.

What makes Toustone’s Real-Time Data Module unique though, is that it uses the latest cloud-based technology to process the raw data in less than 1.5 seconds and was developed using the full SIRI standard, not just parts of it. It is also tried and tested with a major Australian rail operator using our real time data module to communicate with its customers.

SIRI statistic about the real-time data module processing raw data in less than 1.5 seconds

A globally recognised standard

So, what exactly is SIRI?

SIRI is a globally recognised standard developed in Europe. It was designed for transmitting real-time information about public transport services and vehicles and to communicate this to the customer in a superior and accurate way. This allows the transport industry to move away from providing the timetable-based arrival time of a public transport service, to providing the actual live data of where it is.

How we've used SIRI to address Transport challenges

Using the SIRI standard, Toustone has developed a Real-Time Data Module which allows us to send four types of messages. These messages each address various real-time communication challenges which are shown in the below table.

transport communication problem table

How does it actually work?

  1. The module receives raw data feed from the public transport service and vehicle every 4 seconds (so approximately 100 messages).
  2. We analyse those messages and process them through a SIRI processing engine we’ve developed based on a set of business rules and convert them into the desired XML format accepted by the SIRI standard.
  3. We send the four types of messages mentioned above to a destination exchange. This allows them to be accessed via other platforms (ie. Google maps, public transport apps, etc) and sent to the customer.

This process is shown in the diagram below.

Meeting the customer's needs and strategic priorities

Integrating the SIRI standard using a real-time data-module like Toustone’s can ensure accurate information is being provided to the customer in a superior and timely way, boost customer satisfaction results and deliver on strategic priorities.

Providing improved customer experience is often part of a transport operator and agency’s strategy. In fact, in their Future Transport Strategy, Transport for NSW details their focus on using advanced technology to provide improved real-time journey information to their customers to help them plan their trip and make informed travel choices that better meet their needs.

To do this, the NSW Government has already adopted the SIRI standard to send real-time information.

As the preferred standard for providing real-time information, Toustone has developed a SIRI processing engine for a major Australian rail operator. This provides messaging based on a range of scenarios and applied against a set of business rules such as, ‘if the train is delayed for 20 seconds, communicate X. If the train starts moving again, communicate Y.’

As this process has already been built, it can easily be replicated for other transport operators according to their business needs to ensure we are all providing the same superior customer experience across the Australian transport industry.

At Toustone, we thrive on working with transport industry members who are passionate about customer experience and leveraging data to achieve their goals. We are helping the industry stay ahead of the curve and we are proud members of the Australasian Railway Association (ARA).

Get in touch with us to see how you can use Toustone’s Real-Time Data Module to provide superior customer service.