Internet of Things (IoT)
The potential of interconnected objects for urban cableways
The internet of things (short: IoT) is a collective term for technologies that interconnect physical and virtual objects and make them work together through information and communication technologies. IoT offers a range of new areas of application also for urban cableways, in particular their safety, maintenance, control and promotion.
With iot, it should soon be possible to automatically adjust the cableway’s travel speed to momentary demand. Photo: DOPPELMAYR
“The basis for using IoT with urban cableways is an infrastructure enabling localization of objects,” says Kamran Kiafar from the Kapsch Group of companies specializing in telecommunication and transport telematics. Data from cabins, cableway sections, towers, weather stations, cams, control systems or monitors are interlinked via the data points of an independent, autonomous network.
“To enable automatic processes to run, the information obtained is sent to the operator on the one side and the interconnected objects on the other side,” explains Kiafar.
Passenger flow patterns
Monitoring the flow of passengers is one possible area of application. The level of a cableway’s utilization can be automatically determined through cameras and access systems. Kiafar describes a possible scenario: “With IoT, the cableway automatically runs faster during times of high demand. On the other hand, when demand is low, the staff is informed and instructed to decouple redundant cabins.”
IoT can also be utilized for f maintenance of the installations and vehicles. “Sensors located on individual components permanently supply status data and warn the operator, as well as the manufacturer, about future damage or service intervals – something like: ‘I am going to break down in two weeks,’ explains Kiafar. Here, too, automatic processes are possible: an object can order its own spare part and even document its own exchange.
“The clamp will report: ‘Clamp exchanged’,” continues the expert. Service features like this would surely be interesting for large cableway manufacturers and control system suppliers.
Promotion of local shops in the cabins – IoT can make it a reality. Photo: POMA
While the two above-mentioned appli- cation examples are still only dreams of the future, a system utilizing IoT for emergency information systems is ready to enter the market. “We, at KAPSCH, have developed an intelligent gondola system, the IGS for short, that autonomously and automatically informs the passengers in the cabin in the event of an emergency,” explains Kiafar.
Unlike the current systems, the IGS does not access the cableway’s control system but functions autonomously via the internet. “Our component, the Ressort Manager, is self-supporting and it operates even in the event of electric power, server, WLAN or radio network failure.” Even if everything else “goes dead” at once, IGS, with its pre-stored scenarios, will inform the passengers.
Subject to network availability, however, manual communication with indi- vidual cabins or the entire cableway remains possible at any time, of course. “In the event of an emergency, the cableway operator can still inform the passengers about breakdowns, rescue operations and suggested course of action,” explains the expert. The “live” surface of the IGS also enables two-way communication, i.e. direct communication with the passengers.
“This feature contributes to legal security, too, as all data regarding the weather and the installation, as well as all communica- tion, is documented,” says Kiafar. Even more safety should be provided by an extension of the system to include image monitoring. This extension should be implemented this year.
“Cameras interconnected with the IGS will take photos every five minutes documenting the situation in each cabin for the operator without producing enormous video-data volumes,” adds KAPSCH’s Key Account Manager.
Furthermore, the IGS hardware, the Ressort Manager, can also be integrated in other urban infrastructure, such as buses, underground railways, ferries, or information pillars.
Intelligent gondola systems inform passengers autonomously and automatically. Photo: BMF
Promotion and service information
Through IoT, the operator can commu- nicate not only emergency-related information but also service notifications and promotions. “To this purpose, local information and ads are sent out as defined trigger points are passed along the route,” continues the expert.
Time- or calendar-based announcements can also be made in the same way. “With IGS as a marketing tool, urban cableways will become financially even more attractive compared to other means of transport,” he believes.
Controlling the light and warmth
The expert opens yet another subject: “Since IGS can be altered by the operator and is an expandable system, it can also be used to control things.” As a result, IoT could manage cabin seat heating and lighting on the basis of the temperature and amount of light inside the cabin, either by performing programmed commands or receiving information from sensors.
“As soon as the temperature drops under a certain level, the heating in the upholstered seats will be activated. And from a certain time of day, the cabin lights will be switched on automatically,” closes Kiafar. ts