Pilot smart public transport system (I)

Public transport companies evolve over time. Every 20 or so years, new technologies emerge, new standards spread through the network. 20 years ago, the smart card technology was a brand new invention whose applicability limited itself to security. Now it is used everywhere, from banking to loyalty cards. Unsurprisingly, transport companies have adopted the smart card as a mean to fight fraud.generic_travel_cardEverywhere, public transport companies implemented secure authentication and validation systems.  The old magnetic strip subject to wearing  was replaced with the NFC/chip cards. In less than a decade, most countries adopted the card. The lifetime of more than 5 years, the robustness, the familiar credit card size, everything was easier and better to use. Just swipe and voilà! the trip is paid or validated.


From the oyster card in the UK to the Navigo card in Paris, everywhere the new technology gained terrain.   It didn’t happen overnight, it required 1-2 years but in the end, everyone loved it. Some even went to use it for secondary purposes, like bike rental.  The chip ensures a safe payment / authentication  way. The swipe is a natural gesture. How easy it becomes.  How simple to extend the technology and the area of application.

Navigo_cardIf the card works with the local transport network, why not make it work at a regional level. The next step is to pay train voyages on short distances, up to 40 clicks with the same card. Then make it a kind of electronic wallet. The chip is more powerful than the needs of the people who use it. Could it be possible to go further ? It seems it is.  Some municipalities have thought of the pushing further the limits and installed interactive kiosks.


By touching the kiosk with the card, information is exchanged with the terminal. The generic interactive kiosk becomes a personal computer. The data from the card takes control of the terminal. Favorite trips, last voyages, last searches, everything becomes personal. The person  who is using the kiosk reaches the full potential of it.  It may not be smart yet, but it is well under way.


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