LTA wants to partner industry for smart nation projects

Technology is increasingly being used to help commuters enjoy their ride on the train or bus. In the near future, technology will ensure that commuters’ walk to the bus stop or train station is pleasant and commuters can catch their buses and trains punctually, said Rosina Howe, chief innovation officer of the Land Transport Agency (LTA). 

Distinguished Speaker, Mrs Rosina Howe-Teo, Group Director for innovation & Infocomm Technology, LTA

More will be done as LTA wants to develop more solutions for the convenience of the travelling public. LTA wants to partner with industry to do this, she said at a special briefing on LTA Smart Mobility for SiTF members on April 19. 

For example, the LTA collects a lot of data on usage of fare cards, taxis and the number of times wifi points are accessed daily. 

“We’re working on a project that will mesh different data sources from all these sources as well as from taxis, trains, and buses into a dashboard so that in the event of a major accident, we know what options we have. We also want to make these options available to the public transport operators and people. There’s lots more to be done.  If you have ideas, come and see us at the LTA,” said Howe who is also LTA’s CIO. 

Speaking for about 40 minutes, she also shared several projects the agency is undertaking and where it hopes to partner industry. 

One project is smart ticketing where commuters can use their mobile phones as their “ticket”. Singapore has a legacy system based on the Cepass contactless payment system. LTA is pursuing other platforms like NFC, post paid and even wearable technology. 

“We also don’t want people to tap their cards to pay. Too many people doing it will cause bottleneck.  So we are working on how we can use post paid cards where commuters will receive their bills at end of month through a telco or credit card company. It’s not a new concept because many cities are working on this.” 

She pointed out that these new systems will require test bedding and integration with the financial institutions which will also provide new business opportunities for the tech sector. 

There are also opportunities in asset management now that LTA is the owner of all public transport assets including buses, train cabins and spare parts. 

She highlighted that LTA needs to track them for operations and maintenance which is the foundation for predictive maintenance. 

“To avoid disruption, LTA must know when something is not going right through patterns and analysis of the assets. There’s a lot of work to be done and we need overseas and local partners to come together.” 

The LTA also needs to embrace disruptive technology. In the taxi space Grab has come up with an app that helps taxi drivers discover where the passengers are.  Companies like Grab are able to provide better service because of technology. They are able to create a special connection between Grab and a customer that a street hail cannot replicate.   

“How can the government create this special connection? We need to do this if we’re to improve our services,” she stressed.  

Other areas that LTA is looking at is car and bicycle sharing. Mobile apps can promote this by telling people where to pick up the nearest car or bicycle and make payment. 

“These emerging technologies offer opportunities but they are not without challenges in areas like public safety, insurance, privacy, misuse and cybersecurity. Where there are problems, there are also opportunities for business, areas where industry and LTA can come together to solve.” 

LTA’s use of technology, she said, began five years ago when it began to design people-centric services, considering commuters’ needs the minute they stepped out of their homes. 

With a person taking a minimum of four rides on public transport daily, it meant there were about 6.6 million public transportation trips daily. 

“If a commuter doesn’t start well with public transport, then you can get grouchy, angry and then fume. We set out to make public transport comfortable and predictable.” 

Mr K.P. Unnikrishnan, chairman of cloud computing chapter, presenting his opening message.

Mr Willis Sim, Chief Product Development & Corporate Solution Officer gave a brief presentation on M1 solutions for enterprises.

During the Q&A, when asked how the providers can showcase their solutions to LTA, Ms Howe suggested that solution providers could cluster together and arrange for sessions with LTA so that there is an exchange of ideas and also allowing LTA to have a better appreciation of what is available. 

SiTF shall work with LTA to move the session to the next steps so stay tuned.