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Passenger Wifi

Using onboard analytics to improve services in coach hire

Onboard analytics: The secret to enhancing your transport services

By | Analytics, Feature, Passenger Wifi, Technology | No Comments

As industry leaders call for mobile phone location data to be used to plan out new bus and rail routes, we look at why it’s not just governmental transport bodies that can benefit from onboard analytics.

In passenger transport, data comes from every stage of the customer engagement process – from booking to boarding to using onboard amenities. With the advent of web analytics services, any business owner can acquire the metrics from their website and begin to streamline the customer purchase process. The real problems arise when operators try to quantify what’s taking place on their vehicles.

That’s because many transport companies lack the time, staff, or tools to tap into these ‘data warehouses’. Large operators, meanwhile, can afford to pay data analysts to study these metrics and draw up actionable strategies to optimise sales and improve the passenger experience.

But with the Sygnal Dashboard, any coach company can tap into the invaluable onboard analytics gathered from a whole host of in-vehicle processes. It’s only with this data that operators can begin to optimise the travel experience and develop a flexible service that meets the changing needs of today’s commuter.

Identify peak times

Transport operators across the world still struggle to adequately cater to fluctuations in passenger numbers. Of course, not every transport network is unable to anticipate passenger numbers, but until recently, services were largely based on feedback from drivers and, to a lesser extent, passengers. But with the advent of accessible data, companies can now pinpoint how many passengers board their vehicles at specific times.

This data can then be used to direct vehicles to specific routes at key times. Likewise, operators can allocate different capacity vehicles to different routes based on the number of passengers. Analytics also enable operators to map out travel patterns and add new services to underserved areas.

Using onboard analytics to identify peak times

Personalise services

We all use technology to help us navigate the world, but the most regularly used technology is actually one of the least utilised for its data value. The smartphone isn’t just a handy tool for travellers, it’s also a valuable access point for transport operators looking to better understand their customer.

In fact, onboard analytics give operators the power to decipher a lot more than just the number of people on their vehicles. These metrics can reveal, among other things, how many passengers logged on to the WiFi, the most popular sites to browse and what ads passengers are most likely to click on.

Additionally, a company app allows operators to gather valuable data on how many people are boarding their vehicles, and the type of journeys they are making (i.e. daily commute, one-off return journey, day ticket, etc.) With an app, operators can also use real-time data to give users reliable updates on the progress of their bus. That’s handy for passengers waiting on their bus and passengers already onboard who need to know when to disembark.

Of course, there are restrictions on the kind of data you can collect. All information gathered from interactions with your onboard WiFi must be completely anonymised in line with GDPR. Even with these restrictions, however, you can gain real insights to optimise your services.

Study environmental factors

As every transport operator knows, sometimes services are disrupted by factors beyond their control. Of the most significant external influences is the weather. Rain, snow, storms and heatwaves can all have a major impact on vehicle performance and passenger numbers. Incorporating data on weather patterns can help operators direct vehicles more effectively.

An increase in passenger numbers on rainy days, for instance, suggests you may need to provide larger vehicles for busy routes. Likewise, knowing in advance that commuters are willing to walk on particularly sunny days would allow you to redirect services to other routes.

Likewise, weather patterns can affect journey times, so it’s important you take the data behind these when redirecting vehicles and developing new routes.

Using onboard analytics to track impact of weather patterns

Respond to major events

Whether it’s a local festival or a major sporting event, there are some days every operator marks down in their calendar. After all, coaches are the best means of transporting large groups to a single location beyond the reach of rail. Not only does travelling by coach reduce congestion on already crowded roads, but it also enables passengers to relax before arrival. This is particularly important for passengers travelling a long distance, where exhaustion and a lack of knowledge of the roads can increase the risk of accidents.

That’s why many coach companies now offer express travel to and from events. National Express, for instance, offers transport packages to attendees for several UK festivals. For smaller coach companies, local festivals and sporting events offer a great opportunity to establish a recurring relationship with passengers.

In turn, coach companies with onboard WiFi can use the analytics gained from passenger interactions to offer additional services. For instance, if there’s a spike in searches for camping supplies on the way to a festival, you could partner with a local outdoor retailer to offer supplies en-route.

Simultaneously, data allows you to anticipate busy times in advance and capitalise on potential bookings with unique offers. Including an email sign-in to your onboard WiFi gives you the option to follow-up with offers for the next year’s event.

Improve journey times

Passengers are your main source of data, but they’re not the only one. Operators are increasingly turning to data to understand how their vehicles perform, and how they could be optimised to increase efficiency.

Data gathered from your onboard GPS can provide invaluable insights into your journeys. For instance, if you notice a service is regularly delayed, data from the journey history can identify where the interruptions occur. As in-vehicle technologies like GPS become more commonplace, transport operators will also be able to incorporate data from external sources too. Traffic lights, motorways and even other vehicles will be able to communicate with each other to alert drivers to changes in traffic and potential road hazards.

Similarly, engine tracking data can identify where your vehicles have idled. When studied together with dashcam and CCTV footage, operators can identify bottlenecks and reduce fuel consumption.

Woman using onboard technologies to browse bus WiFi

For something that’s become such an integral part of our society, data is still an impenetrable reality for many operators. As a result, of the millions of services run every day across the world, only a small percentage of the potential data is actually captured and analysed. This isn’t simply a loss for the company, it’s a loss for passengers too. The insights hidden in this sea of data can go on to shape new services and streamline operations. With onboard analytics, operators finally have the power to optimise the travel experience with quantifiable insights.

Woman smiling using in taxi WiFi

5 reasons in-taxi WiFi is essential for modern taxi firms

By | Passenger Wifi, Smart transport, Sygnal Bites, Taxi | No Comments

As every taxi firm knows, new technologies promising to ‘revolutionise the journey’ are ten to a penny these days. However, that’s not to say there aren’t valuable technologies out there. For every ten new innovations, there is one that can genuinely increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve the passenger experience.

Of all these new transport technologies, it’s safe to say that onboard WiFi has had the biggest impact on the passenger journey. In fact, WiFi is now a ubiquitous feature on buses, trains and even planes. All of this leaves you wondering, why has the taxi industry been so slow to embrace the onboard network? If you’re operating a taxi firm without onboard WiFi installed in your cabs, you probably have your reasons, but it’s worth considering the arguments for WiFi. After all, just as an object will select the path of least resistance, passengers will always opt for the transport with the best connectivity.

Everyone wants onboard WiFi

It’s not exactly news that the world today is fixated on connectivity. At home, at work, at the pub; it doesn’t matter where we are, we want to maintain some kind of digital link with the world. For taxi firms, onboard WiFi represents the next logical evolution in customer service. Your passengers aren’t simply looking for the cheapest and most reliable form of private travel – they’re looking for comfort, consistency and connection.

Even passengers on a relatively short journey will appreciate access to in-taxi WiFi, particularly if they’re young. Passengers on their way to work can use the connectivity to start the workday early. Meanwhile, passengers unsure of their exact destination can use the onboard WiFi to establish where they need to be dropped off.

Businessman using in-taxi WiFi on tablet

Overseas visitors need WiFi

Travelling overseas is great, but it’s not always ideal for connectivity. While data-roaming is now fairly consistent across the EU, visitors from elsewhere often have to shell out large amounts for a data package. That’s why tourists arriving at an airport are more likely to choose a taxi with WiFi.

Whether checking into their hotel, arranging to meet friends or just finding their bearings, in-taxi WiFi is an invaluable amenity for overseas passengers. Additionally, the presence of WiFi in a taxi can be more appealing than that of a bus or a fixed public WiFi because the user will be one of the only people connected through the secure 4G connection. Unlike in bars, restaurants or other public areas, passengers using the WiFi in a taxi can be assured that they are accessing the connection alone without the worry of losing speed because of the other passengers already online.

In-taxi WiFi increases brand loyalty

It’s not just overseas passengers that want WiFi wherever they go. Travellers on their way to the airport will always welcome free WiFi. We’ve all been there – rushing to the airport, frantically trying to recall if you locked the front door, checked in for your flight, remembered your reservation details, etc.

These days, travellers have a whole host of ways to check these things (except for the front door, sorry, you’re on your own there). But these last-minute checks, invariably, require some kind of internet connection. And if a passenger can’t use their own data, they’re going to require connection of some kind. That’s why in-taxi WiFi is such a valuable feature – if your connectivity can help them out in an hour of need, they’re more likely to use your firm again.

Black cab with light on and in-taxi WiFi

Personalisation is essential

A captive portal is a great way to engage with your passengers before they begin browsing, not to mention alerting WiFi users to your terms and conditions. It’s also a chance to get to know your passengers. Many firms ask for an email and other contact details before granting access to the internet. This way, firms can keep a record on who has accessed what on their WiFi and keep customers up to date on company news.

It’s important you don’t then bombard their inbox with unnecessary information or spam. It’s always a good idea to offer something on top of company updates in turn for providing contact details. For instance, the chance to enter a competition and win prizes can be enough to prompt passengers to share their contact details.

With passengers willingly submitting their contact details, you can begin to build up a clearer sense of your customer base and tailor services to their specific needs.

Driver satisfaction improves

It’s not just passengers that enjoy access to WiFi. Drivers, who spend more time than anyone in a taxi, will also appreciate the introduction of onboard WiFi. Of course, drivers should never use a device while driving, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t periods of downtime where a driver is required to sit and wait. As we all know, it’s in those moments of boredom that people reach for their phones.

Onboard WiFi isn’t just designed to improve the in-taxi experience. It can also open up new channels of communication for the driver. Of course, firms will already have at least one established line of communication with headquarters. But with onboard WiFi, drivers can also receive updates on traffic developments and adjust routes accordingly.

Driver using in-taxi WiFi to engage with passengers

For taxi firms considering implementing a mobile app, onboard WiFi in every vehicle is a must. Informing passengers about delays prior to pick-up is only possible if the vehicle can report to head office. Drivers can do this manually, but an inbuilt connection enables automatic updates and ensures passengers are never left in the dark.

To find out more about Sygnal Taxi WiFi, get in touch here.

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Finding the right onboard technologies for your coach fleet

By | Passenger Wifi, Sygnal Bites, Technology | No Comments

For any coach operator, identifying the right onboard technologies requires time and a careful appraisal of your requirements. That’s why operators tend to opt for an eclectic mix of solutions, purchased when and where they can afford to roll them out across the fleet. But this approach comes with its downsides. Technologies end up with wildly disparate capabilities, not just in their performance, but in their ability to communicate with each other.

That’s why Sygnal offers a range of packages, tailored to meet the specific needs of every transport operator and centralised through one system. So whether you’re a large, national operator or a small, local coach firm, there’s a Sygnal package to meet your needs.

But which Sygnal package is right for your coach company? That all depends on what you’re looking for…

Fleet size

Of course, the size of your fleet will be a key factor in the kind of technologies you require. Are you a small local coach hire company looking for a simple onboard WiFi system or a nationwide operator looking for an entire onboard overhaul? Each Sygnal package comes with onboard WiFi and access to the Sygnal Portal as standard, but for some operators, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Small coach companies with just a few vehicles, for instance, might be looking for a simple Sygnal WiFi and Portal package. Major operators with hundreds of vehicles, meanwhile, are more likely to require robust fleet-tracking technology than a small local service.

Of course, every operator has a different idea of what their company needs to grow. That’s why we encourage our customers to discuss their current requirements and future growth prospects before establishing which Sygnal package best suits their needs.

Bus coach with onboard passenger WiFi

Fleet functions

It’s not just the size of your fleet that determines the kind of technologies you require. The typical daily functions of your company will go some way to dictating the scale of your Sygnal package.

Some questions to consider:

  1. Do you operate school routes?

If so, onboard bus CCTV could be an essential technology. For safety purposes, many schools now require their coach operators to provide CCTV as a standard safety feature. Operators looking to expand their local bus contracts, then, will not get far without onboard cameras. Likewise, operators that choose to integrate CCTV will be better positioned in school transport tenders.

  1. Do you run coach tours?

Coach tours can cover a wide range of services. Whether it’s for international or domestic passengers, the unique requirements warrant a specialised service. Discerning these requirements before you purchase your Sygnal Package is integral to getting the most value for money. For instance, coach tour companies operating in remote areas of the country might require signal enhancement technology to ensure total connectivity. Meanwhile, operators running tours for overseas tourists may want to consider integrations for translation tools for their onboard content.

  1. Do you run tours abroad?

The same goes for operators who run coach tours abroad. Sygnal WiFi functions anywhere within the EU, so connectivity isn’t a problem. However, operators will require accurate GPS and fleet-tracking software, particularly if a vehicle is travelling a new or remote route.

Operators running tours to areas outside the EU will be required to purchase an international data package. Alternatively, invest in some offline content to keep passengers entertained when they enter non-EU territory.

  1. Do you run regular local services?

Operators running regular services, whether it be across local, regional or nationwide areas, have their own unique set of requirements. To begin with, operators who run services on scheduled routes, in which the bus stops at established points, may find they don’t require content for the passenger entertainment system. After all, if most passengers are only onboard for twenty minutes to half an hour, they’re unlikely to want to start watching a film.

Mobile ticketing, on the other hand, is an essential tool for operators running regular routes. For coach companies who run infrequent services between specific destinations, mobile ticketing can be a useful tool but is not necessarily essential.

Onboard technologies for your bus company

Geographical setting

The needs of your fleet are defined not just by the type of coach tours you run but also the typical locations in which you operate.

As we said before, if your routes tend to adhere to remote areas, you’re more likely to encounter issues in connectivity and maintaining visibility of your vehicles.

Rural

Rural commutes tend to involve longer journeys, so it’s a good idea to consider additional features that decrease pressure on the 4G data connection. Simultaneously, rural transport can experience significant delays as a result of closed roads or slow-moving vehicles. Sygnal’s GPS system enables operators to keep track of their vehicles and redirect them should they notice an obstruction somewhere on the route.

Urban

Similarly, in urban areas, your biggest concerns will be navigating traffic and security. The Sygnal Secure Package comes with CCTV, dashcams and GPS along with Sygnal’s robust WiFi. Through these technologies, drivers can monitor onboard events, use the dashcams to navigate narrow gaps on busy roads and receive real-time updates on local traffic disruptions.

Mixed

Many operators run services that cover both urban and rural routes. The Sygnal Fleet package comes with a suite of technologies designed to meet the diverse needs of every modern bus company.

Retrofitting your public transport

Customer base

Although likely to have the most significant impact on your technology needs, your customer base is usually the most difficult to qualify. Regardless of how diverse your customer base might be, it’s vital you establish your typical demographic and take steps to tailor your services to their needs.

Schoolchildren, although limited in their access to smartphones, are major consumers of WiFi. However, younger passengers must also be protected from harmful content. That’s why Sygnal comes with inbuilt options for parental locks and age verification. Operators can also block websites on specific servers to further protect children.

Any company that provides some kind of public WiFi will know that passengers between 18-30 years old are the highest consumers of data. Millennial travellers are also the most common users of public transport, excluding the elderly. Sygnal already blocks access to data-heavy websites (including video-streaming such as YouTube), so you can rest easy that they won’t drain your data. Simultaneously, every Sygnal server is designed to provide support for up to 60 concurrent onboard WiFi users, so there’s no need to worry about WiFi speeds even with a bus full of young travellers.

Worried about exceeding your data limit with a bus full of young travellers on a cross-country trip? No need to fear: Sygnal can place a cap on your servers, so you’re never charged for overages. In addition, the Sygnal Portal (available with all packages) allows you to track data usage on all of your Sygnal servers. If you notice a particular server is close to reaching its data limit, you can choose from a selection of add-ons. That way, your data-hungry passengers stay happy and your service gets the great rating it deserves.

Couple chatting enjoying the onboard technologies

Current onboard technologies

Most operators today have at least one onboard technology – whether it be passenger WiFi, GPS or CCTV. But, as we’ve discussed before, technologies are often compiled from a range of sources. Not only does this complicate the process of gathering data from these devices, but it also locks operators into multiple contracts with various companies.

Even if you’re currently signed up to a contract for another onboard technology, Sygnal can install new devices. However, it’s only with a Sygnal package that you can centralise your existing technologies under one easy to manage platform and consolidate your payments under one simple monthly contract.

Of course, any operator already using a mix of onboard technologies knows that requirements are defined by the resources you have at your disposal. Operators who dedicate a member of staff to managing onboard technologies might find it easy running multiple disparate systems. For smaller, independent coach companies, however, this is unlikely. Even large, nationwide operators with a dedicated team could benefit from streamlining all their technologies under one system.

integrating onboard technologies to your vehicles

If you’re still not sure which Sygnal Package is right for your company, get in touch and we’ll find the best option for you. After all, every modern coach company needs onboard technologies, it’s just about figuring out which best serve your purposes.

Women using smartphones on a bus

Cost or connection? Modern bus passengers shouldn’t have to choose

By | Coach operator, Feature, Passenger Wifi | No Comments

At the risk of stating the obvious, we live quite the connected existence in 2018. These days, connectivity is deemed as essential an amenity as electricity, running water and gluten-free alternatives at breakfast. Our craving for internet access is intensified when we’re required to remain in the same place with no other means of distraction. Companies unwilling or unable to provide this access are finding more and more that customers will look elsewhere.

For transport companies, this should come as no surprise. Passengers expect onboard WiFi as a standard feature on their journeys. Local bus and coach operators, however, often feel that to provide WiFi will mean an increase in fares. Every onboard amenity, after all, costs money. But there is another way – providing companies have the tools to optimise their connectivity. Thankfully, Sygnal provides more than just onboard WiFi; it also gives operators the means to reduce operational costs and improve overall service.

Enriching the passenger journey

What’s the most important element of a transport service to passengers? It used to be that you could sum up the passenger’s expectation for a transport service in three words: Convenience, comfort and cost. But in the past few years, a new word has crept into the passenger lexicon; connection.

That’s why onboard WiFi is such an essential amenity. Not only do passengers expect it, but they will also actively criticise those companies that don’t provide it. Perhaps even worse than not providing any kind of connectivity, however, is providing subpar WiFi. The fear of providing an intermittent or slow connection (and being pilloried in subsequent reviews) keeps many operators from committing to an onboard WiFi subscription. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Sygnal’s onboard WiFi is designed to maintain constant connection wherever your vehicles are. On the rare occasions when there really is no means of connection, Sygnal WiFi caches key web pages to ensure passengers still have the power to browse.

Woman using onboard technologies to browse bus WiFi

Optimising the travel experience

Onboard WiFi can increase convenience for passengers by shortening journey times through intelligent route optimisation. Simultaneously, part of developing a reliable service lies in keeping passengers up-to-date on the latest information about their journey. With onboard WiFi, passengers can track their journey through location apps like Google Maps. Alternatively, you can integrate an in-journey information system to keep passengers completely up-to-date through on-board screens.

With additional options for mobile ticketing, operators and passengers can enjoy a raft of benefits. As an operator, a move to ticketing through digital channels frees you from the cost and inconvenience of paper tickets. Of course, onboard technologies aren’t always about saving money – they’re also vital to improving the travel experience. For passengers, M-ticketing can expedite the boarding process, making journey’s shorter and more efficient. This might not save your coach company money, but it will increase passenger loyalty, which means more return custom.

Using onboard WiFi as a passenger

Cutting costs with connection

Of course, onboard integrations like passenger WiFi, GPS and CCTV incur some additional costs. But connection comes with a range of additional features to reduce company overheads.

Coach companies have a variety of outgoing costs. As a major monthly expenditure, fuel consumption is a major concern for every operator. Engine monitoring captures the raw data behind the behaviour of a vehicle and provides solutions to how this behaviour could be optimised. By studying when and where an engine sits idle, operators can develop procedures to reduce vehicle inertia and optimise journeys.

Likewise, using GPS to monitor the progress of your vehicles on specific routes enables you to better comprehend where coaches are experiencing delays. The data gathered from your GPS can then shape new routes and save your coach company on fuel consumption.

Using onboard WiFi to improve accessibility on transport

WiFi = Additional revenue streams

Onboard WiFi isn’t simply a tool for passengers to pass the time. It’s a direct line through which you can engage with passengers on a deeper personal level (within the bounds of GDPR, of course). Just as social media channels offer personalised promotions through their platforms, you can promote relevant businesses direct to your passengers.

That’s right, your onboard WiFi can also provide an additional revenue source through personalised advertising. The Sygnal Portal allows you to upload multiple ad-types from local businesses. With options to customise ads according to journey, time and transport companies can deliver personalised, locally relevant promotions at the push of a button.

The analytics gained through your Sygnal Portal can also inform ad-pricing and give you additional leverage when sourcing new advertisers. Through these advertising deals, you can offset costs while providing a valuable platform to businesses on a local and national level.

Sygnal's new wave of transport technologies

New Sygnal site marks a new era for transport technologies

By | News, Passenger Wifi, Transport | No Comments

So you might have noticed, Sygnal has a new website design. Don’t worry, we still offer the same cost-effective transport technologies and high standard of service. We felt it was only right, however, what with all the new innovations and updates of the past year, to give our website a makeover to better reflect our expanded scope.

Among the latest Sygnal innovations to receive an update is the Sygnal Portal. As a dedicated platform developed specifically for operators, the Sygnal Portal integrates seamlessly with your Sygnal devices and centralises the management process to streamline operations and increase efficiency across your fleet. The new Sygnal Portal still comes with remote access and an intuitive user interface, but now also features an inbuilt notification system to keep you in the loop about all the latest developments on your vehicles.

We’ve also taken the opportunity to lay out a new range of Sygnal packages. Your Sygnal enables you to choose the technologies right for your business, with a special custom pricing plan based on your unique requirements as a transport operator.

The launch of our new website coincides with a new era for transport technologies and the transport industry as a whole.

So take a look, explore our beautiful new site and get in touch to let us know what you think!

Retrofitting your public transport

5 ways onboard WiFi increases brand loyalty

By | Coach hire, Passenger Wifi, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

Onboard WiFi is a near-ubiquitous amenity for transport networks today. Passengers expect connection as a standard feature on their journey, and companies that are unable or unwilling to provide it could find themselves losing customers to their more tech-savvy competitors.

For coach hire companies considering onboard bus WiFi for the first time – we’ve compiled a shortlist of the biggest benefits to installing bus WiFi on your vehicles.

Happy passengers = Return custom

With onboard WiFi, passengers can pass the time exploring the world from the comfort of your bus. Not only does this increase the likelihood that they’ll book with you again, but it also makes it more likely they will recommend your services to other people. Onboard WiFi is no longer a novelty feature for the executive coach sector – it’s an essential amenity that almost every passenger expects. A failure to meet this expectation could result in negative reviews and even lost sales.

Modern technology = Modern brand image

Like any business, an effective brand identity in transport relies on maintaining a relevant corporate appearance. This means staying up to date on new innovations and ensuring passengers are given access to the latest technology. Of course, customer service, cost and convenience are major deciding factors in which company passengers book with, but it’s essential you don’t overlook the power of new technologies in winning and retaining new customers.

Analytics = Insights

Onboard WiFi is now seen as an essential feature of commercial transport, but it’s also a great way to better understand your passengers’ preferences. With Sygnal’s passenger analytics, you can begin to build up a detailed picture of your customer base and develop or adapt services accordingly. For instance, if you find the highest number of WiFi users is during the morning commute, you can ascertain that demand for service is greater during this period and adjust your WiFi settings, or even deploy additional services during this time.

Optimised efficiency = Increased appeal

It’s not just passenger-facing features that benefit from the presence of onboard bus WiFi. Your coach service can also increase brand loyalty by improving boarding times, reducing delays and optimising journey times. We’ve talked before about how bus WiFi can assist in traffic navigation, but it’s important to remember that these improvements, aside from saving on costs, are ultimately for the benefit of the passenger. Like in any business, the trick isn’t earning your customer’s trust – it’s keeping it. That’s why translating your onboard WiFi into improved operational efficiency is so crucial to maintaining the loyalty of passengers.

Targeted advertising = Unique deals

Data isn’t just a valuable resource for improving operations – it can also be used to personalise promotions to passengers. Sygnal’s bus WiFi comes with dedicated access to the Sygnal portal, where bus and coach operators can upload everything from third-party content to custom ads from local and national business partners. The Sygnal Portal also allows users to tailor ads to specific routes, times and even passengers. These promotions give passengers access to exclusive deals and make the most of their time in a location – be it through ads for local taxi firms, venues or accommodation.

Passengers on their smartphones

A guide to protecting passenger data using onboard WiFi

By | Data protection, Passenger Wifi, Sygnal Bites, Technology | No Comments

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be aware that data laws in Europe are changing with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The past few years have seen stories surface from every industry about companies using user data for purposes other than originally specified, and that’s exactly what GDPR is designed to bring an end to.

GDPR requires companies across every sector update the way they process and share personal data. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. As the UK information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham explained: “The GDPR is a step change for data protection,” she says. “It’s still an evolution, not a revolution”.

So while the new laws don’t mark a drastic change in the way companies handle data, updating outdated personal data laws across the EU has been long overdue. The previous data protection laws, brought into place in the ‘90s, have struggled to maintain pace with the developments of the past decade. It’s worth noting that it’s not just companies based in the EU that are subject to the new data protection regulations. GDPR isn’t directed at European companies but at the data and information of EU citizens. 

Man using his smartphone on a coach hire service

Data protection in transport

Of course, any company that provides WiFi as a secondary service will already have a data protection plan in place. For transport companies with onboard WiFi services, protecting the data of its passengers is essential to maintaining trust. For companies operating across EU countries (and even for those operating in the UK, providing services to EU citizens post-Brexit), it’s vital they ensure all of their services align with the new regulations.

In the transport industry, it’s essential when seeking permissions from passengers to be transparent in what data is gathered and how it’s used. Transport networks can ensure this by updating their terms & conditions on the initial login page. These T&C’s must also provide clear instructions on how passengers can opt-out of providing this data at any time.

Providing they agree to some form of data gathering, it must not fall into the category of personal data, which includes:

  • Basic information such as name, address and ID numbers
  • Web data such as IP addresses and cookie data, Health, biometric and genetic data
  • Racial, ethnic and sexual orientation
  • Political opinions, religious beliefs, and union memberships

Prior to GDPR, companies still had to adhere to collecting only depersonalised information. Transport companies such as Transport for London (TfL) gather information like an encrypted version of the device MAC address, the date and time the device broadcast its MAC address, the access point it’s connected to, the device manufacturer and the device association type.

Commuters using smartphones while travelling on the subway

Protecting passenger privacy

Of course, protecting passenger data should be an integral aim of any company. Numerous data scandals have weakened the public’s faith in corporations’ ability (or willingness) to use their data responsibly. In transport, where thousands of passengers can connect for a short period every day, the need to maintain an open and transparent data-collection process is just as vital. After all, when passengers can trust the company they are travelling with is using their data responsibly, they’ll be more likely to consent to provide it.

The anonymised data gathered through onboard WiFi use can be useful for both passengers and transport companies. Bus and coach networks can use it to better understand the passenger journey, which can then go on to inform schedules, routes and the size of vehicles. Meanwhile, passengers can benefit from the increased efficacy of routes and enjoy wider access to different services. With GDPR in effect, passengers will need to specify the kind of data you can gather, but this doesn’t necessarily mean transport networks will have access to less information.

One of the most significant aspects of the new data protection rules; if there is a data breach of one of your customers, all parties responsible must report the breach within 72 hours to relevant authorities. A breach is defined as any loss, alteration or unauthorised access of personal data.

Always seek permission

GDPR explicitly forbids restricting access to a wireless network on the basis of a customer providing personal data. That means wireless network services must be provided without the condition of providing personal data.

The central aim of GDPR is to prevent companies from providing the personal data of its users to third party marketing companies, without first seeking consent. Consent can only be given when the user is provided with specific, clear information on how this data will be used.

For passengers, the new GDPR rules will likely have little effect on the overall browsing experience. Users will be asked to decide the amount of data they wish to provide when they first connect. With their chosen settings, passengers can enjoy secure browsing without the need to worry about who has access to their personal data.

Transport companies have an array of tools to make their business data compliant. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website includes a section on understanding GDPR with a dedicated advice line. The ICO also includes a handy document on GDPR guidance and a ‘lawful basis’ tool that aims to give businesses tailored guidance on the legal basis’ for the different data processing protocols.

Woman using smartphone airline app to book flights

What it means for your business

Of course, companies that previously relied on revenue gained from third-party marketing companies to offset the cost of providing WiFi will now no longer be able to do so. Whilst some wifi providers have a case for processing some user data, public transport networks rarely fall under this category.

On first glance, the options for transport networks looking to provide WiFi are extremely limited:

  • Provide WiFi on a pay-to-use basis
  • Continue to provide WiFi without the benefit of revenue from third-party marketing companies
  • Stop providing WiFi altogether

While none of these options is ideal, they aren’t the only choices available. The introduction of GDPR has seen an uptick in the use of Federated Identity Management (FIM) technology among public Wi-Fi providers. FIM relies on an independent common federated authority to manage the identity of a user. With no need to store any customer data, FIM offers a solution to WiFi providers looking for cost-effective GDPR compliance.

Using mobile ticketing service on public transport

Besides this, transport networks can still gain valuable insights from anonymised metrics. Providing passengers consent to non-personal data-gathering through your WiFi, you can use that data to better understand elements like:

  • The average number of users at key times
  • The average browsing time
  • Onboard data usage
  • Mobile ticketing uptake

The insights gained through these diverse datasets can go on to improve passenger experiences and ultimately develop a more streamlined, passenger-focused service; and that’s something everyone can agree to.

Using your mobile smartphone device on public transport

Integrating mobile ticketing on your transport service

By | Passenger Wifi, Public Transport, Sygnal Bites, Technology | No Comments

Mobile tickets, otherwise known as mTickets, are fast becoming a popular onboard technology for transport networks. But what are the benefits of switching to mobile ticketing, and can they be integrated into your network without disrupting services?

What does it mean for payments?

Payment systems can be set up easily through online payment platforms like Stripe, Braintree or Paypal. The cost of payments to transport companies is minimal, and can actually reduce overall costs. Additionally,  companies can centralise their revenues and better track how variant factors like national holidays, sporting events and even weather conditions can affect takings.

Providing all revenues go through a secure platform, online payments can reduce the risk of passengers underpaying or providing outdated and obsolete currency.

Onboard WiFi for mobile ticketing

Of course, passengers won’t use WiFi to load their ticket before they board, largely because WiFi becomes available when they board and waiting for everyone to load their tickets would add too much time to the boarding process.

However, the mobile ticketing machine can connect to the Sygnal server, which in turn communicates with a database back at the bus HQ to ensure all passenger information is up-to-date.

That’s why more transport companies today opt for an app, in which new tickets can be activated and cached beforehand. In this way, passengers can download their latest ticket before leaving the house, ready to show to the driver or scan through an m-ticketing machine.

For passengers, downloading tickets in advance enables them to check times and avoid using data. The same app can be used onboard (using Sygnal onboard WiFi, of course) for anything from real-time journey information to the latest ticket deals.

Using mobile ticketing service on public transport

Using mobile ticketing to reduce costs and drive revenues

Of course, adding m-Ticketing can be a daunting prospect to bus and coach companies, but it doesn’t have to be a disruptive addition. Many transport companies have opted to retain the ‘ticket on sight’ system, whereby passengers simply show the driver their ticket. Providing tickets are purchased through an app system, this won’t prevent companies from gathering data on the type of tickets purchased, at what time and by whom.

When a company does integrate mTicketing into their business, the rewards can be significant. Companies use less paper without the need to print tickets onboard. Less fuel is wasted as people don’t have to look for cash, which also benefits the environment.

With the addition of a mobile app, transport networks can more easily keep track of who’s using their services and offer personalised deals. For instance, if a bus company sees that someone commutes every morning and night, they can target that customer directly through the app with a special weekly ticket offer.

Streamlining your coach service

Not only can mTicketing reduce overheads, it can also streamline other aspects of the service. Because mobile ticketing reduces waiting times, services become more punctual, encouraging more people to use the transport. Passengers can be updated on new developments, including delays to services, changes to routes and new offers.

As national transport networks shift to multimodal travel services, mobile ticketing will be an essential element of this cross-transport technology. Integrations with other forms of transport such as ride-sharing and metro services become simpler when all the required access tools are centralised. For a passenger arriving by train in a new city, a transport service that functions on the same platform as their train ticket will be infinitely more attractive than one that does not.

Passengers on public transport

Issues

Of course, with the introduction of any new technology, there will be challenges. It’s true that not everyone has a mobile, or access to the technology to regularly download tickets.

Some critics have suggested the introduction of mTicketing shuts out poorer people in society. However, mobile usage is roughly the same across all social groups, and the proliferation of WiFi in public spaces has made the connection required to download tickets more accessible than ever.

For those without a smartphone or whose smartphone breaks or runs out of battery, presenting a ticket can become more challenging. That’s why many companies retain some kind of paper or ‘flash pass’ ticketing system.

So while there may be some initial kinks to be ironed out introducing mobile ticketing, the long-term rewards make it worthwhile.

Using onboard WiFi to improve accessibility on transport

Increasing your bottom line through passenger WiFi

By | Coach operator, Onboard advertising, Passenger Wifi, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

Aside from providing additional value to your coach hire company, onboard WiFi provides a direct line to your passengers through their personal devices. This connection comes with its own obligations, but, when used responsibly, it also presents a unique opportunity to engage with your customers like never before.

Direct promotion

As old as the internet itself, online advertising offers a platform to engage with a huge audience, with the added value of gaining access to valuable information on the demographics, browsing behaviour and brand preferences of your audience.

Through the Sygnal Portal, transport networks can gain additional revenue streams by sourcing promotional content from relevant advertisers and promoting it through the passenger WiFi.

Because Sygnal enables ads to be customised according to the journey, transport operators can deliver personalised, locally relevant promotions at the push of a button.

Man using his smartphone on a coach hire service

Sourcing advertisers

If you’re not sure where to start finding advertisers, Sygnal is on hand to help you source local and national businesses. Valuable statistics gained from Sygnal server analytics can also help inform your pricing and add leverage to negotiations. Approaching an advertiser with analytics showing over 1000 unique visitors used your WiFi within the past month represents a better proposition than simply offering information on passenger numbers.

For large, multi-region transport operators, Sygnal can help source local businesses for relevant route-specific promotions. Running regular routes between London and Edinburgh, for example, provides a unique opportunity to promote bars, restaurants, live venues and even hotels in the English and Scottish capitals.

Woman using onboard technologies to browse bus WiFi

The Sygnal ad-platform

The ad-management section of the Sygnal Portal is simple and intuitive, allowing your team to upload, edit and push new ads direct to passengers.

The Portal comes with the option to choose from a variety of different ad-formats and upload images, video and text to your Sygnal servers.

Because passengers gain access to promotions through their personal device, they can keep the information on hand when they step off your vehicle.  That’s why the Sygnal Portal comes with the option to include business locations within an ad, enabling passengers to step off and – providing they have data and GPS on their own device – make their way directly to the promotion.

Retrofitting your public transport

Using passenger WiFi in your international coach tours

By | Coach Tour, Passenger Wifi, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

If you run a tour company in the UK, you’ve probably grappled with the question of how best to accommodate overseas visitors. It’s a tricky task. Tour guides must be ready to adapt to new situations, answer any question and provide information on a huge range of subjects in a way that’s informative, fun and accessible to all.

Fortunately, there are tools to help the modern tour guide, and one of the most recent additions could also prove to be the most significant. Passenger WiFi is already transforming the travel industry, but its value as a device for adding new dimensions to coach tours has been largely overlooked.

For groups participating in guided tours, Sygnal’s onboard wireless server can provide tour information directly to passengers. Not only this, but any information can be delivered in a passenger’s native language through their personal devices. In this way, every passenger has the opportunity to enjoy the tour without the barrier of language difficulties. Passenger WiFi can add an interactive element to coach tours, allowing passengers to engage with materials through quizzes, polls and other activities.

Group sat on coach using onboard wifi

For coach tour companies in the Scottish Highlands, for instance, providing information on the different distilleries, attractions and historic landmarks become more inclusive when everybody is capable of digesting the information in the language they feel most comfortable with.

Sygnal’s onboard server also makes sharing supporting tour guide materials easier. Returning to the Scottish Highlands example, guides can enhance their tour with short, custom videos sent directly to the passengers’ phones. Will the tour involve a trip to a distillery? Share tour materials on anything from the history of whisky to the distillation process to whet the appetite of your passengers. Conducting a tour of Highland lochs? Provide short videos with language-specific subtitles to give passengers an insight into how the lochs were formed. These extra touches show you’re willing to go the extra mile for your customers, something that won’t be forgotten when it comes to their post-tour review.

Tour bus travelling along Scottish Highland road with passenger WiFi

Of course, the coach tour is all about taking in your surroundings. It’s understandable why tour operators want to avoid technologies that encourage passengers to look at their phones. But passenger WiFi isn’t meant to replace the traditional tour guide. By using passenger WiFi as a supporting tool, coach tour companies can enhance the travel experience and redefine the meaning of true hospitality.