In the field of public transportation management, whether it includes buses, underground trains or trolley cars, an essential element is the communication to users in terms of lines and times of arrival of the various stops. This communication typically occurs by means of a busstop signpost.
The evolution of the classic signpost, in which information regarding lines and times of arrival of public transportation are preprinted on panels, has led to the design of a system of computerized signposts, created using displays based on various types of technologies such as LED, LCD or TFT, in which it is possible to show contextual and variable information updated in real-time.
The continuously updated data displayed to the public represents an added value of the solution that projects the image of a modern service which can be easily accessed by all those who live in a smart city.
The heart of the solution consists in the central software (Stop Display Piloting System) which has the task of distributing information to be displayed to the single stops.
It can be placed within a more articulated system, dedicated to managing an entire fleet of public transportation and the correlated information from which data to be displayed is derived, or can be used as a standalone application with all the necessary features for interacting with the display devices.
In the most simple case scenario, in stand-alone mode, with the Piloting System it is possible to define messages to be displayed at each of the stops, but not only. In fact, many different situations can be handled, from the classic timetable which can be predefined with set display modes (fixed or alternated with other general-purpose information) and periods of time in which the table is valid, to contextual information regarding specific events (accidents, traffic jams, etc.) which may slow down or impede the arrival of the awaited means of transportation. In short, information that must be inserted into the system and immediately sent to devices for viewing.
The Piloting System is able to meet any of these requirements since it is capable of handling programs and schedules autonomously.
Besides text information, with the piloting system one can configure and send graphical information, such as pictograms or VMS (Variable Message Sign), to the stop displays. To do this, there must be a precise consistency between the software level and the displays’ characteristics.
In more complex and computerized contexts, the Piloting System can also interface with other superior systems (supervisor, SCADA - Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) that deal with collecting data regarding the passage of vehicles to then distribute it to the appropriate stop devices.
Communication between two systems is based on different technologies, chosen according to the specific needs: web service, socket to socket or TCP/IP are those usually used.
In this case, the Piloting System acts as an intermediary between the supervisor system and the peripheral devices, and essentially deals with converting information, transmitted in different ways using different layouts, that it receives into the protocols recognized by the displays.
This processed data is sent to the displays thanks to preinstalled connectivity: Ethernet, GPRS or radio.
In this scenario, added value is given by the registration of all activities and commands sent to the peripheral devices in a log, showing the outcome of these tasks.
Another option is the ability to register the information dealt with by the system within a database in an organized manner for future analyzing.
Furthermore, all peripheral devices can be monitored using the NAGIOS application that allows for the working state of the controlled devices to be analyzed in real-time, while also alerting of any anomalies and offering statistics regarding the system’s performance.
A synoptic diagram of the entire system, showing a complete overview of the monitored devices in an immediate and intuitive way, allows one to see the details of a single device in terms of its current functioning state as well as a historical analysis, and represents another qualifying aspect of this solution.