Smart helpers on the platform.

How SBB uses smart signs to keep its customers informed in real time.

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Established

1902

Employees: 32,535 (2019)
Turnover: CHF 463 million group earnings
Bern, Switzerland
www.sbb.ch/en/home.html

 

One Inside
Liestal, Switzerland
one-inside.com

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Controlling interactive displays with a central system

Products:

Adobe Experience Manager  ›
Adobe Experience Manager Screens  ›

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Objectives

Share up to date information with passengers without a smartphone

Make paper posters obsolete

Help passengers at smaller train stations with fewer staff

Overcome different IT applications existing in parallel.

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Results

Provides customers with interactive information in real time using Smart Information Displays (SIDs)

Allows SIDs to be controlled from a central location using flexible API

Gives customers the exact information they need for their journeys

A smart travelling companion

Any trip is always a bit of an adventure too. Whether visiting our nearest and dearest or on the way to clinching a successful business deal or whether the mountains are calling us or we're off on a trip for the weekend: Every journey is as individual as the person taking that trip. As the number one mobility provider in Switzerland, the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is well aware of this. The company gets 1.32 million passengers to their destinations every day.

 

This is made possible by more than 32,500 passionate members of staff, who turn every journey into an experience and play an active part in shaping the future of mobility.

So, it's no surprise that SBB's website is one of the most visited sites in Switzerland, with 36 million visits every month. With a share of 50% of these visits coming from mobile devices, SBB has obviously already gone some way to achieving its aim of not just providing the best possible support for travellers before and after their journeys, but during them too. But that’s not all: The next project is now on the horizon, which has the aim of expanding the existing service even further: Smart Information Displays (SID).

All information in one location: Intelligent posters make possible this

In future, the aim is for Smart Information Displays to replace printed information in stations, such as the yellow departure information posters, maps of the network or information about rail replacement services and to then make these accessible from one central location. Thanks to the touch screen functionality, additional details connected to the journey, such as information about the train carriages or shopping facilities at the station, can also be provided. This works using widgets in the home screen similar to an app, which users can click to call up further information. And in some situations, like if there is disruption to the trains due to a signalling error, information can be communicated in real time. The SIDs will really make things easier, especially for people with disabilities and limited mobility. They can have all the information read out to them by the SIDs and those with limited mobility can adjust the height of the information being displayed thanks to the wheelchair mode.

The content being displayed, such as the yellow departure information posters, are administered in Adobe Experience Manager and delivered by Experience Manager Screens. This technology makes it possible for content to be managed from a central location and then pushed to the relevant SIDs in a targeted way. To do this, SBB is putting its faith in a central dashboard it has developed itself. Content managers can see at a glance which posters are relevant to which stations. If a station is marked in green, all of the posters are up to date, there is no need to take any action. A field with a grey background means: The content is not relevant to this station. In addition, the system also gives a quick heads-up, such as if a change to the timetable is imminent. Then the dashboard will indicate the date on which a poster needs to be changed. "We have set up a clear tree structure for managing the stations," explains Simon Hofstetter, the project leader at SBB. "Thanks to the flexibility of AEM screens, we have the option of adapting the dashboard to meet our specific requirements."

Controlling multiple systems in one central location

Displays on platforms, electronic boards or digital information panels - SBB uses various screens in its stations to get in contact with its passengers. This was an enormous logistical challenge, as until now different types of screen have often used their own content management systems.

 

This was also the reason why SBB brought in professional support for the SID project. Working with the consulting specialists from Adobe and its implementation partner One Inside, Simon Hofstetter and his team wants to get everything in order behind the screens. "The fact that various systems exist in parallel is something that has developed over time for different reasons," explains Michael Grob, Senior Consultant at One Inside. “With the SID project, we have now taken the first step towards operating the different types of displays in a standardised way. With Adobe Experience Manager we have found a solution to control the large number of screens being used from a central location,” adds Simon Hofstetter. “The flexible API makes it possible for us to feed information to all of the connected displays from a central location.”


"With Adobe Experience Manager we have found a solution to control
the large number screens being used from a central location. The flexible API makes it possible for us to feed information to all of the connected displays from a central location."

 
Simon Hofstetter

Projektleiter, SBB AG


For example, if there is a blockage on the line or a route is interrupted, the team in the Traffic Control Centre (TCC) only has to update the operating situation in their system - the displays connected by the APIs automatically follow suit. “The electronic boards installed in the stations usually display advertising from third party providers. However, if there is a problem, we can override the boards thanks to AEM and display relevant information for the passengers - and we can do this within 20 seconds after the disruption report has been entered in the TCC,” explains Hofstetter. News about this has spread within SBB. In the meantime, some of the other teams within SBB have been actively seeking out Simon Hofstetter and his colleagues, asking if they can also get the displays they manage connected to Adobe Experience Manager.

The timetable is ready

So it's no surprise that Simon Hofstetter's team is working flat out to launch the next phase of the project. Since September, SBB has been trialing the new SIDs in the test stations Effretikon, Suhr and Düdingen. “In small and medium-sized stations in particular, the information available is still in need of development, which means that SIDs can provide passengers with real added value,” explains Simon Hofstetter. “In addition, there are already a lot of screens installed in larger stations in places like Zurich, which means that there is a much lower likelihood of there being any interaction. However, especially in the test phase, we are dependant on gaining as much data and feedback from our customers as possible so that we can optimise the SIDs further.”

 

A pilot phase is currently underway with around twenty additional stations that will be equipped with SIDs by the start of next year. Within two years, by the start of 2023, the plan is eventually for 500 stations in every language area of Switzerland to be equipped with around 1,000 SID devices.

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