As is often the case with digital technologies, applications are countless, if not limitless. Thus, beyond passenger Wi-Fi, internet connectivity provides solutions to many global issues. Among its multiple applications, the technology can support live streaming and data analytics from onboard video surveillance cameras, onboard entertainment portals showing the latest films and TV, passenger information in formats that are more accessible to the visually- or hearing- impaired, or the elderly, or even onboard sensors that monitor train tracks and improve efficiency. Icomera recently had the opportunity to deploy these different systems in the UK, in France, on
the Lossan rail corridor in the US, with VIA Rail in Canada, and on the emblematic Bergen Line in Norway.
As public transport is increasingly seen as the custodian of a more sustainable era, and competition between operators intensifies, passengers' growing expectations cannot be overlooked. Having high-end Internet connectivity is no longer seen as a luxury amenity for travelers, but a mandatory service that operators must offer to stay competitive and attractive. As technology advances, passengers are showing a decreasing tolerance for mid-range equipment in trains, unable to allow for increasingly ubiquitous video uses, whether personal or professional. On the contrary, premium quality Wi-Fi provides a significant edge to operators who have adopted it, especially in attracting attracting ‘Generation Z’ – digital natives born since the mid-1990s – Less likely to drive cars, and more acutely aware of issues around the climate emergency, this demographic group could be key in helping drive the return to public transport post-pandemic. However, Generation Z are also the most discerning group of consumers to cater for, raised in a world of near-instant delivery of services and with very high expectations of quality and reliability.
It is now up to transport operators to integrate these new standards, seize the multiple opportunities offered by top-of-the-line internet connectivity, and lead the way towards a smarter, safer and greener future for mobility. In this transition, research and development by digital companies will be key to further innovate and improve the attractiveness of public transport.