Moving with times: IT solutions in public transport

Some 400 participants were kept up-to-date with the latest trends in information technology for public transport at the IT-TRANS conference in Karlsruhe, Germany, last week. More than 800 people from 41 nations visited the parallel exhibition, where 80 exhibitors came from 19 countries to showcase their innovations and technologies. The event was co-organised by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and the Karlsruhe congress centre (KMK).

“In recent years, public transport has had to face numerous challenges – the transition from analogue to digital, from static to dynamic and to real-time. ‘Intelligent public transport systems’ and the innovations presented at IT-TRANS will help ensure that public transport can continuously adjust to a modern way of life, remaining attractive and competitive,’ stated Hans Rat, Secretary General of UITP.

During the three-day event, representatives from transport companies, industry, public services, associations and research institutions shared ideas and experiences relevant to their daily business and established new criteria for tomorrow’s developments.

The main topics covered at the event included innovation and inspiration, intermodal transport control systems, interoperable fare management, and security and privacy.

“The advantages of IT in public transport are obvious and endless as virtually everything is possible with technology. However, these opportunities also bring their own challenges,” explained Mr Rat. “Since public transport contributes significantly to the transportation of citizens, not only within the borders of cities, regions and nations but increasingly also beyond these borders, interoperability was an important focus of the event,” he said. “We also heard that‚ security versus fraud’ is an ongoing battle. Security is always a compromise – absolute security does not exist. And we learned that there is still much uncertainty on the issue of privacy. Requirements are different from country to country which makes it difficult to address it globally,” he went on. “The kind of exchange between experts that we had at IT-TRANS is the basis for a sound application of IT solutions – and thus for a balanced public transport sector.”

The next IT-TRANS, entitled ‘Make IT work for public transport’, will take place in Karlsruhe, Germany, from 24 to 26 February 2010.