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Digital mobility

INIT drives open system architecture and standardised interfaces in public transport

Interoperable IT solutions in public transport form the foundation of tomorrow’s multimodal networked mobility. Consistent real-time information across city and regional boundaries is vital to ensure passengers can benefit from new offerings. Public transport companies can refer to recognised standards to identify and commit to the best IT solution for the long term. This is part of why INIT has been heavily involved in two research projects on standardisation since early 2017. They are part of an initiative on digital connectivity in public transport and are funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development. Both projects reached a successful conclusion a few weeks ago.

The goal of the project known as Digital Mobility – Vehicles and Stations (DiMo-FuH), was to develop standardised interfaces and connection standards between different passenger information systems used in public transport, taking into account the importance of the spatial environment and the significance of the vehicle as acentral connection point in a passenger’s intermodal travel sequence.

Under INIT’s direction, the team followed an IoT approach by developing an architecture that features a broker as a central messaging service. The interfaces between the control centre on the one hand and the vehicle infrastructure, station/stop infrastructure and passenger information on the other hand were standardised, drawing on existing standards such as SIRI or NeTEx. The project participants set up a broker based on MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) to function as the central communications component. The field test of this new communication standard in Munich was a complete success: after some minor challenges, the INIT on-board computer, COPILOTpc2, used the newly developed standard to communicate with a third party Intermodal Transport Control System (ITCS) essentially at the push of a button, and INIT’s MOBILE-ITCS communicated with the on-board computers from another manufacturer.

Real-Time Passenger Information Systems (RTPI) were also successfully connected to an ITCS from a different IT provider. The new standard makes it possible to use INIT solutions in third-party IT environments – completely without the need for any project-specific interfaces. The reasons to connect IT systems are as varied as they are widespread. Two examples might be to support the operation of a joint control centre with new subcontractors, or to test a step-by-step introduction of MOBILE-ITCS for the growing fleet of electric buses.

One of the results of the project was a draft of a new VDV publication called Internet of Mobility – or IoM for short – which was submitted to the VDV at the end of September. INIT is proud to have led the consortium on this pioneering project.

In addition to improving the transparency and consistency of passenger information through standardisation of interfaces, opening up information systems to other modes of transport (e.g. car or bike sharing) will increase the appeal of public transport. The second project, Digital Mobility – the Open Mobility Platform (DiMo-OMP), focused on exactly this.

The project dealt with the creation of a reference architecture for an open mobility platform and the standardisation of the required interfaces. In an open mobility platform, all components are connected via standardised interfaces. This means the platform can be extended and connected to other open platforms as desired. This allows new mobility providers, additional apps, and other mobility platforms to be integrated or connected without any need to adapt the existing architecture. A relevant example here is the various bike-share offerings, which are regularly put out for tender. It’s also easy to integrate neighboring cities’ mobility platforms, allowing the user to obtain travel information and book journeys on their usual platform for these regions as well.

The DiMo-OMP project focused on the needs of passengers and the convenience of an integrated, end-to-end service chain. The user is guided through the intermodal journey, starting with planning and booking, right up to actual travel and payment.

INIT’s extensive booking and ticketing expertise allowed the company to contribute significantly to the success of the nearly two-year-long project. However, the project also gave the opportunity to gain new and valuable insights. MOBILEvario, INIT’s billing and ticketing system, is now well on its way to becoming truly intermodal, too. This is also beneficial to the flagship project, regiomove, where INIT is working with other industry experts to create an intermodal mobility platform for the Karlsruhe region. INIT is managing booking and billing for this ambitious project.


Dr. Roxana Hess

Product Manager MaaS
Deputy Team Manager Research