From Data to Information: Provision of Railway Data to Passengers in the Information Age

Christopher Morris, John Easton, Clive Roberts

Research output: Contribution to conference (unpublished)Paper

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A series of rapid developments in ICT over the last 30 years have fundamentally changed the ways in which we work & spend our leisure time. The advent of affordable personal computing (mid 80s), the growth of the World Wide Web (late 90s), & the ability to receive / digest information on mobile computing devices including tablets & smartphones (last 5 years), has allowed us to make decisions more effectively based on up-to-date real-time information on the state of the world we live in. In the transport industry arguably the greatest impact of the new information-driven technologies has been in the area of passenger information, & in particular in journey planning. The railways, in common with other transport modes, have made good progress in the delivery of online timetables / journey planners, real-time services status reports & electronic ticketing to customers, but the real value of these tools will not be realised until a customers’ entire journey can be captured across transport modes; information services of this type will enable the impact of disruption to service on one transport mode to be viewed in the context of knock-on effects to the rest of the journey, allowing the passenger to understand what the disruption means to them, & opening up new possibilities for use of the multimodal transport network as a single system. The integration of data from across a number of transport modes is a challenge from the perspective of data modelling, as the meaning of terminology is often subtly different in each mode. As a result, large amounts of developer time can be spent ensuring that data is being used in the correct context, & reflecting that context in application code. The hard wiring of data context in this way means that applications frequently need to be updated in response to changes in one or more of the domain-specific data models. This paper presents work on a new family of data models (ontology) designed for use with the next generation of the Web (the Semantic Web) that capture the context & meaning of data in a machine interpretable form, allowing information to be used without ambiguity across transport modes. It shows how, in combination with linked data architectures, ontology allows data resources to evolve over time without the need for substantial changes to the applications using them. Finally, it describes ways in which railway undertakings can publish their data to ensure maximum reusability in next-generation web applications.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Event11th World Congress on Railway Research - Milan, Italy
Duration: 29 May 20162 Jul 2016
Conference number: 11


Conference11th World Congress on Railway Research
Abbreviated titleWCRR


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