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Saturday , 25 June 2022

Tuned to Massive Transformation

 

It is time we think beyond buses and trains for public transportation, and utilize them optimally. Several state governments have already started revamping their public transportation system. Fuelled by disruptive technologies, the transportation sector is on the verge of massive transformation, says Aneri Patel, Co-Founder and Director, Amnex Infotechnologies Pvt. Ltd. in an interview with Trafficinfratech

Amnex is a fast-growing technology company that uses technology as ‘building blocks’. In the Mobility space, Amnex has solutions that are transforming traffic and transit management and enhancing commuters’ experience. You may like to elaborate on your solutions for multiple streams of transport.

At Amnex, we believe in wielding the power of technology to transform industries. In our constant quest to find simple solutions to complex problems, we have developed a wide range of solutions that are robust, intuitive, scalable and future-ready. There is a huge scope for technological disruption in many sectors and mobility is one of them.

Infusing the power of technology, we want to drive change in every aspect of transportation- from enhancing commuters’ travel experience to improving the service environment, from integrating multiple modes of transport to introducing digital payment systems across the chain.

We have developed products like Locomate- an integrated intelligent platform to enhance multimodal transit management, Xup- a versatile automatic payment collection system for fast and easy payment process, RapdiGo- a journey planner app, Spotlock for effective parking management and Syncnex for better traffic management. The products as a bouquet can greatly optimize transit services to further enhance citizens’ commuting experience, just like smart cities aspire to.

Amnex has won over 22 projects across the country- amongst which Bangalore and Shahjahanpur are the latest ones. In a first, we are implementing our Intelligent Transit Management System (ITMS) solution Locomate in Kochi Water Metro where commuters will be able to track their ferries and know the expected time of arrival and departure through a mobile app.

Implementation of the Mass Transit bus network has faced challenges in India. How do you envisage the consolidation and development of bus services?

Technologically advanced electric buses are now being introduced by several transport authorities across India. In many parts of the country, bus services are also being privatised. Technology has further propelled the pace of transformation by bringing transparency in the end-to-end processes. Transit operators and other stakeholders can get all the vital information like routes, total kilometres, number of passengers, revenue collection etc. at their fingertips. It eliminates the possibilities of conflict between the stakeholders. Amnex’s agnostic solutions can adapt to any edge device which facilitates and expedites technology implementation process.

We foresee that multimodal journeys would be commonplace in the near future. Kochi Metro Rail Limited is already working towards integrating various transport services such as metro, buses, boats, taxis and even auto-rickshaws that share an integrated timetable and common ticketing, and are managed through a centralized command and control centre.

Your offerings include, IoT, data analytics, geospatial engineering. Blockchain, RFID, Lidar …

Leveraging technologies like IoT and data analytics, we have created a robust ATCS (Adaptive Traffic Control System) product Syncnex that helps reduce traffic congestion by smartly setting up signal timings as per the current requirement, considerably reducing travel time, cost of commuting and carbon emission. We are working towards global optimization of traffic lights which will enable commuters to drive through congestion-free corridors. The solution has already been implemented in Tumakuru and Gandhinagar, and it has brought a positive change to the cities’ traffic patterns.

Amnex has been selected by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for developing LPPT (Logistics Planning and Performance Monitoring Tool). This will be a significant part of Gati Shakti, the National Master Plan. This geoanalytics-based planning and monitoring tool will be used by various ministries, government agencies, and private entities. It will expedite decision-making by facilitating collaboration for logistics operations across the nation.

As of now, vital decisions regarding routes, timespan, speed etc. are taken based on previous experiences. Now, technology will help the decision-makers chart out the safest, the shortest and the most cost-effective routes. It will greatly boost businesses and expedite processes, and provide valuable insights by consolidating data from different sources. Breaking existing silos amongst different government departments, it will bring down logistics cost and aid collaboration and integrated planning.

During Pandemic and post-pandemic, route planning & scheduling and mobility on demand have gained importance. How can we effectively implement these?

Even prior to the pandemic, Amnex had introduced a Passenger Information System at the bus stops that would display accurate ETA/ETD of buses, and a mobile app RapidGo that enabled users to track the buses in real-time, check nearby transit options from the bus stops. This trend gained momentum after the pandemic to minimize physical contact. All these solutions are dynamic. During the peak pandemic times, we modified solutions to enable commuters and authorities to check the real-time status of occupancy in the transit vehicles, and generated alerts if occupancy rules were violated. This made it easier for the authorities to ensure strict implementation of social distancing rules. The ticketing process was made contactless through AFCS to minimize physical contact. The mobile app sent regular notifications to the commuters about travelling safely in public transport. This is how technology can help people navigate through tough challenges like a pandemic.

Ticketing and payment platforms form an integral part of Multimodal integration…

The purpose of multimodal transport is to enhance convenience and reduce travel time. This can be achieved only when the commuter can plan the route and purchase a single ticket for different modes of transport. We have designed AFCS (Automatic Fare Collection System) solution XUP that aids various modes of digital payments across transportation networks. It is a versatile payment ecosystem that enables commuters to purchase tickets from home, at the stops and even en route using a mobile application, scanning a QR code or with the help of AFC devices such as turnstile type automatic gates with ticket validators, handheld ticket terminals etc. For a multimodal journey, it also provides details of consolidated fare, that increase the convenience of the commuters and also curb revenue leakages.

Amnex also has parking solutions. In the chain of integrated mobility, Parking as a Service has become an important link. Parking at transit hubs determines the success of integrated transport operations.

Saturated parking spaces is one of the biggest challenges most Indian cities are facing, especially near a bus stop or railway station. The space crunch also results in accidentally damaged cars and incidents of violence. We come across cases where vehicles get stolen or severely damaged when parked near a transit hub for long hours. Safe parking is extremely crucial for boosting the multimodal journey. Sensing the gravity of the problem, we have developed a cloud-based smart parking solution Spotlock that can optimize parking spaces and make journey planning easy for commuters. When connected with the city’s IoT network, it can help commuters find nearby parking plots, reserve parking space, make digital payments for it and get real-time information about the occupancy. Assured and secured parking space is a key to encouraging commuters to explore multiple modes of transport which is essential for sustainability and greener future.

What are your expansion plans and what are the new areas where Amnex is planning to enter?

We are foraying into the metro, electric vehicles and river transportation domain. Foreseeing the surging travel demands, river transportation is going to be the next big thing in India. Kochi Metro Rail Limited has made the first move in this direction by charting out 16 routes and connecting 38 jetties covering 10 islands spread across a 76 km route network. Amnex is proud to be an integral part of this innovative project. We would be implementing Locomate in the ferries to facilitate multimodal transit.

More than 15 Indian cities are developing metro rail networks to meet future transport demands. It will trigger the need to create a safe and secure digital payment ecosystem to save time, enhance convenience and curb revenue leakages. We are equipped with AFCS solution XUP to cater to this rising demand. We are rolling up our sleeves for some international projects as well.

Data monetization is another area Amnex is venturing into. As processes are transferring from manual to digital, data storage and data monetization come across as great challenges. Using advanced AI/ML techniques, we have developed solutions like Data Lake that can cater to the surging need of data management and process a huge amount of data to generate valuable insights. Stakeholders can use the monetized data to analyse trends, improve services and understand future business needs.

We envisage the future smart cities to work in perfect synergy with minimum human intervention. Amnex is working towards integrating services such as transportation, traffic, emergency management, waste management etc. to elevate the efficiency of the cities. For example, waste collection vehicles, transit vehicles having cameras and high connectivity onboard can be used for spotting encroachment and parking violations. When gathered on a single platform, all this data can provide actionable insights that can improvise operations, reduce cost and help generate more revenue. We have done this in Gandhinagar with Outline, our Integrated Command and Control platform.

What are the challenges in implementing technology in tune with the policies and the traffic/transport Infrastructure development?

I personally feel that multiagency coordination can be improved. If we talk about smart city projects, from planning, execution to policy making, many agencies are involved. Getting approval from each can make project implementation sluggish. The Government of India’s Gati Shakti initiative to bring all the decision-making agencies on the same board is commendable. Initiatives like these will expedite the process. Healthy partnership between the government and private sector can help boost the economy at a faster pace.

Improper mapping of requirements, question of ownership are some other crucial challenges while implementing smart city solutions.

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