By Sam Taylor, Digital Marketing and Insights Executive and Paul Vaclik, Head of R&D and Architecture
First impressions always count! Often, the first point of contact that passengers have with a transport operator’s onboard services is when they log into the WiFi service. Therefore, the train operator must provide an attractive landing page, which should match the branding of the service and vehicle operating company. It will act as the hub for the train operator’s Nomad Engage Portal.
The primary reason a passenger connects to the WiFi service is usually to use the public internet, doing so in an environment which has limited connectivity can be costly for the vehicle operator to run. Providing services which can inform and entertain the passenger without having to generate too much internet traffic is a cost-saving for the provider and benefits the passenger, as they don’t have to rely on connectivity. Services within the Engage Portal can work offline (although connectivity is needed periodically to update content) which results in a more seamless experience for passengers.
Part of the Intelligent Journey
Key attributing factors of using Nomad’s Engage Portal is its ability to offer information and entertainment the passenger, not all vehicles have the hardware capabilities to provide passenger information within the carriage. For example, carriages may not have display screens and even where screens are deployed, they cannot provide personalised or in-depth information. The Engage Portal helps to address this problem, acting as part of the Intelligent Journey and improving passenger experience by providing information such as:
- Moving maps
- Train schedule information
- Information regarding destinations
- Connecting bus routes
- Taxi information
- On-board locations of the buffet cart, toilets etc.
- Ordering food via an online menu
Building in third party information and services is also a great opportunity to add value. Partnering with local businesses (near destination stations) can create greater exposure for both parties. For example, they may provide passengers with the information of a local taxi service when the train is within a set radius of the station.
An additional benefit of using the Engage Portal is the opportunity to provide extra assistance to passengers who have special requirements. For example, it allows the opportunity to present accessible services for people with hearing or visual impairments. A passenger who is visually impaired would benefit from an audio guide and a passenger with audio impairments would be better able to read announcements via a web page. Furthermore, the train operator can use different languages within their Engage Portal, as an audio announcement service may only use one or a few languages. This allows passengers with hearing impairments or passengers who do not speak the local language to follow the announcement.
Equally important, the Portal allows the train operator to provide their passengers with tailored information regarding the destination of their station. For instance, they can provide wheelchair accessibility points and communicate to the station; if a wheelchair ramp will be required.
A train or bus journey can be a great opportunity to do some reading, catch up on a TV show, or even watch a movie. Static media (newspapers, magazines, audiobooks) can be updated periodically by the vehicle operator and provided to their passengers in an offline format. This benefits the passenger by providing a better viewing experience and improving internet connectivity as the available bandwidth is not used up streaming media. This also has financial benefits for the train operator in reduced data charges. For example, daily newspapers can be electronically updated in the morning and fed in an offline format to passengers, throughout the day.
Rail entertainment can improve passenger experience by providing an extensive library of premium media content, including:
- TV series
Premium media content is encrypted via a Digital Rights Management (DRM) system to ensure that is cannot be copied. Displaying this type of media requires trusted systems with appropriate keys to unlock the media. The Nomad Digital Engage Portal comes equipped with a DRM application which is accepted by a wide range of global media providers. This provides the technology to unlock media on the vehicle, allowing the transport operator to stream offline hand-selected movies to their passengers.
Transport operators can further enrich their passenger’s experience by integrating their video-based media with their moving map. For example, this would allow them to play informative videos when they pass certain landmarks or destinations.