Interesting conversation with SI Urban – the magazine for urban ropeways:
Whether communication, safety, advertising or customer loyalty – there are numerous reasons to turn an urban ropeway into a digital system. It is very important to expand the system-critical communication between guest and staff with entertainment offers.
The basic focus is on the cybersecurity of the networks for communication with passengers in an emergency and the process monitoring in cable car operations. “It is important to have a backdoor-free, firewall-protected operating system that can avoid hacker attacks,” says Markus Todt, Country Manager Austria at LANCOM, a leading network manufacturer from Germany.
Together with the Austrian company LOOP21, the hardware manufacturer has already equipped numerous ropeways in alpine and urban areas, including systems in La Paz (Bolivia) and Haifa (Israel).
“Only a few companies can handle challenges like terrain, dead spots and connectivity loss in ropeways. Solutions must also be found for obstacles,” says Wolfgang Frajuk, Marketing Manager at LOOP21.
Because as part of local public transport, the WiFi of urban cable cars must work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Communication between the operating and rescue personnel and the passengers must be guaranteed at all times. The WiFi thus becomes security-relevant equipment,” explains Manuel Urbanek, Managing Director of LOOP21. Management, control and monitoring in public transport is a must these days.
“The ongoing operation of the ropeway is optimized with a specially developed mobility communication system,” Urbanek continues. Thanks to the WiFi coverage of the entire route, employees can speak to individual cabins, play music or information announcements, control the lights in the individual cabins and access security cameras.
It is controlled centrally via a touch display in the control room. The core of the network solutions are access points that are attached to masts and gondolas and create the WiFi network.
“High-performance radio modules ensure reliable and fast reception even under difficult conditions,” emphasizes Todt. Since the access points were specially developed for outdoor use, they can withstand harsh weather and work in temperatures from minus 33 to plus 70 degrees.
“The cabins of the urban ropeway network in La Paz are equipped with a mobility communication system. In addition to WiFi access for the passengers, this system also has an intercom system with an emergency call function, a security cam and a control unit for the autonomous energy supply of the units, including using a solar panel. The city also benefits from real-time analysis of WiFi hotspots.”
BENEFITS FOR THE OPERATOR AND THE GUESTS
WiFi in urban ropeways primarily has advantages for the operator. With the intercom system, employees can speak into the cabins, and fully automatic self-tests are also possible. In addition, the security of the ropeway operation can be increased by security cameras (CCTV) and by locating the vehicle along the route.
“The operator has access to sensors for air pressure, outside temperature and wind speed via the network,” Frajuk continues. Together with the monitoring of supports, sheave assemblies and the rope field, this leads to a high level of reliability for the entire ropeway network.
In addition, fiber optics/directional radio, obstruction lights, as well as digital signage and audio infotainment can be added as desired. But the passengers of urban ropeways also benefit from WiFi and network solutions. They have public Internet access via a hotspot and can use location- or user-dependent information services. Sound systems, digital signage and audio infotainment, as well as rescue buttons are also available.
The core of the network solutions are access points that are attached to masts and gondolas and create the WiFi.
OUTLOOK: INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT)
Under the catchphrase “Internet of Things”, WiFi networks of urban ropeways potentially have much more to offer, as Urbanek emphasizes: “From personalized and location-based advertising in the cabins, to the ordering process and pricing, to prepayment information with which there are numerous areas of application for smartphones. ”
It is even possible to measure the power supply via WiFi, as the cable car operators in La Paz have already been able to prove.
Urbanek is therefore optimistic about the future: “Smart City and IoT are the engines for more WiFi in urban ropeways.“