Semi-automated dispatching and multi-channel passenger information system optimizes control center operations

Providing passenger information consistently across all channels in real time: This is possible thanks to INIT’s system for semi-automated disruption management and passenger information, RESPONSEassist. The system integrates several processes, including dispatching, communication with passengers, and documenting operations – the control center’s essential tasks. It enables dispatchers to deal with disruptions more efficiently and generate precise passenger information with the help of predefined templates. Thereby, the system works largely automatically, saving dispatchers time.

Everything under control at the touch of a button

When disruptions occur, dispatchers must act quickly, initiate dispatching measures, and provide passengers with up-to-date information so they can plan accordingly. This is a challenge because the variety of passenger touchpoints is constantly on the rise. Managing communication channels manually demands substantial time and effort. For companies facing this challenge, RESPONSEassist will be indispensable as it creates passenger information nearly automatically and publishes it through a multitude of media directly from dispatching measures. This means passenger information can be consistently published from any dispatcher’s work station. With RESPONSEassist, a public transport company does not need a specific member of their control center staff to be solely responsible for passenger information.

Dispatching measures and multi-channel passenger information are carried out in a structured manner using the workflow and incident management tool, MOBILEforms, which is integrated into the Intermodal Transport Control System, MOBILE-ITCS. MOBILEforms accesses the editing and publication system, INFOpublisher. Here, text templates for various scenarios are stored. Passenger information is generated by combining the placeholders of the template with metadata and real-time information provided by MOBILE-ITCS. Dispatchers need only add context-specific information. Consequently, the same information is shared through different media by simply clicking on a button.

Active support in case of disruptions

In addition, MOBILEforms supports dispatchers by suggesting appropriate actions for dispatching measures according to the disruption scenario. The system enables users to perform these actions directly out of MOBILEforms. This means the two key tasks of the control center – ensuring smooth operation and informing passengers – are now handled in an integrated way. As a result, passenger information is created and provided quickly and almost automatically out of the control center’s dispatching measures. Plus, this information is fast, efficient, and consistent across all media since only one system has to be managed. Moreover, the public transport company can ensure all dispatchers will react similarly when they handle similar situations, aligned with the standard operating procedures of the company.

The following example demonstrates how RESPONSEassist will help dispatchers manage a disruption, disseminate passenger information and document it immediately. In the event of a traffic accident the control center first receives an emergency call from a vehicle via MOBILE-ITCS. The responsible dispatcher talks to the driver, finds out all necessary details about the accident and learns that a replacement vehicle is needed.

At the same time, they open the respective form. The basic data is automatically populated from the ITCS. Additionally, the dispatcher inserts the number of a replacement vehicle and chooses a stop where the vehicles may be exchanged. The ITCS examines the input and executes feasible measures. The measure data is transferred to the form immediately, providing the necessary information for passengers.

Passenger information texts for all possible scenarios are stored in the system. The dispatcher decides on a scenario – in this example, the “vehicle breakdown” – and selects the essential information (e.g., affected area, duration from or until a stop …). Based on the dispatching measures and available information, the texts for passenger information are defined. The dispatcher can select the desired media channels and publish the same information across all channels simply by clicking on a “play” button. They can also announce the end of a dispatching measure. In case of a disruption, RESPONSEassist provides main information as well as information on the end of a measure.

Processing planned events

In addition to handling incidents, public transport companies must provide reliable passenger information on several planned events. Planned events are those that cause changes in operations but can be planned and organized in advance (e.g., construction projects or mass events). This information is generally provided by the planning or marketing team. Therefore, these departments may access MOBILEforms and INFOpublisher via a web browser. However, they can only access the forms for planned events.

Access to disruption forms is only granted to the control center staff and traffic supervisors (mobile dispatchers, e.g., for documenting an accident on location or for on-site support).

If, for example, a detour is caused by a construction site, the responsible planning or marketing department would schedule the start of a planned event in the system. The control center activates the necessary dispatching measures, e.g., detours or shortened blocks that are required for operations. With the help of RESPONSEassist, a scenario is chosen and preliminary information can be published. The next steps are announcing the event’s start (including time, cause, duration, route, etc.) as well as it’s end. The preliminary, main, and final information on events can also be published by the planning or marketing teams.

The control center staff as well as the planning or marketing department may also publish their own texts via RESPONSEassist directly across all media without relying on templates. Messages about recurring events can be duplicated in a timesaving manner. Having either planning or marketing departments prepare and send out passenger information on planned events enhances the quality of information and also relieves dispatchers from additional work.

Passenger information across a multitude of media

Passengers can be informed with RESPONSEassist consistently across a multitude of media. Both media controlled by the ITCS and external media can be addressed and filled with content. This applies to on-board and wayside passenger information displays and even announcements via text-to-speech. Connecting additional systems (e.g. cross-company information platforms) is possible with the help of standard interfaces VDV 453 / 454 and SIRI SX so that scheduled timetables and real-time information as well as special texts, e.g., texts about incidents and events, can be published online.

Information channels that may be addressed are company websites, apps, information displays in Service Centers, and social media feeds like Facebook, Twitter, or WhatsApp.

Documentation & reporting

To further optimize control center processes, the system also performs the tasks of incident documentation and reporting. In this way, this important internal process is automated. Substantial content, e.g., the location of a disruption, is taken automatically from the inserted data. With one click, all information (including cancelled stops, time, and replacement vehicle) is automatically transferred to the form. Among the pieces of information that may be documented are the time the message arrived, the personnel involved, measures on location, and involved parties.

The system guarantees data security. User rights can be granted or denied so that only authorized users get access to sensitive personal data. Of course, photos and other attachments may be added to a report. When the disruption has been successfully attended to, an operations report is populated automatically. As a result, there is a consequent sequence of dispatching measures, consistent passenger information across all chosen media, and an operations report from a single source.

Even more, MOBILEforms can support the efficient collaboration between different departments thanks to an integrated workflow management.


INIT Sales Team

Phone: +49 721 6100 0
Fax: +49 721 6100 399