06 August 2012
RMIT researchers aim to reduce commuting pain
Getting to work on time could get a whole lot easier, thanks to a team from RMIT University.
The researchers are developing an integrated passenger travel and public transport service information system that will ease the pain of commuter gridlock.
The academics from the School of Computer Science and IT are working on a system that would give commuters access to real-time travel information for all forms of transport, allowing them to change their route when there is a delay.
The three-year project has funding from a $510,000 Australian Research Council Linkage grant and the Public Transport Victoria (PTV).
"We all know, especially in big cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, people take different means to get to work or wherever they are going and the systems presently are not meant to work together," Head of the School of Computer Science and IT, Professor Athman Bouguettaya, said in an interview with The Australian newspaper.
The team will design an extensible service-oriented system to manage legacy databases, applications and analytical tools to provide a unique framework for PTV to link buses, trains and trams into one homogeneous transport system.
"We can help them integrate and mash-up the different information systems, not only to the satisfaction of the customers, but also for planning purposes," Professor Bouguettaya said.
"So you can look at alternative means of transportation because you have systems talking to each other and they can communicate and as a result travellers can plan alternative routes in an efficient way."
The team, which is also supported by the Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing (VPAC), has already done several pilot studies, looking at trams, and expects to expand it to a multi-modal transport system.
The system would have a single interface but operate in two modes, for the general public and city planners.
Professor Bouguettaya said the system could potentially be adopted in other major cities locally and internationally.
Project chief investigator Dr Margaret Hamilton said: "From a passenger's point of view, they will be able to see, maybe, if they got off the train a stop earlier they could have connected with a different form of transport and got home sooner."
She said the use of GPS on all vehicles made it possible to develop such a platform.
The team will also map public transport supply and demand from historical and real-time data to help with decisions regarding the provision and use of services.
"We would design the architecture for whatever the mode of transport was to connect them across their various timetables," Dr Hamilton said.
Users would be able to provide real-time feedback on transport performance through customised interfaces, including social media.
The client infrastructure would support multiple platforms, including mobile devices such as smartphones.
The proposed platform would also provide an integrated and rich framework for entrepreneurial software developers to deploy applications.
The academics involved are Professor Bouguettaya, Dr Hamilton, Dr Flora Salim, Dr Xiaodong Li, Professor Xinghuo Yu (Director of RMIT's Platform Technologies Research Institute) and Professor Bill Appelbe (from VPAC).
Professor Athman Bouguettaya and Dr Margaret Hamilton.