Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices Blog

“Bring Your Own Infrastructure” Brings Cost Advantages for B2C Transportation Organizations

One of the few advantages enterprises may recognize in a weak or recovering economy is the new seeds of creativity, ingenuity and innovation sown across many industries. A prime example of this is the wave of “consumerization of IT.” Whereas technology has historically entered the enterprise before trickling into consumer markets, advances in mobile technology have seen many companies begin to accept, and even cultivate the use of consumer-grade technologies in the workplace. Although these devices are not designed with the same rugged shell, bulletproof security features, and back-end integration capabilities of today’s leading rugged mobile devices, deployment of Android tablets, BlackBerries, and iPhone devices may often facilitate tremendous cost savings for an organization.

The Consumerization of IT and BYOD trends have most strongly impacted areas such as retail, healthcare, and white collar office settings. Industries with more strict rugged requirements, and slower adoption rates for new technologies (e.g. oil & gas, construction, warehousing) have been slower to implement these consumer-grade device deployments.

Masabi, a UK-based developer of mobile ticketing and commerce applications, is one of the first vendors to see substantial success in penetrating one of these more conservative rugged markets – transportation. First targeting the company’s home market in England, Masabi’s mobile ticketing app for Boston’s MBTA is due to go live this fall. Available on iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry devices, Masabi’s PCI DSS compliant mobile app enables customers to purchase tickets (and monthly passes) directly on their mobile device. This technology will complement current ticket validation methods, adding:

Traditional paper-based ticket validation Smartphone software generates a unique animation, unique to that day and line of service, for visual authorization of that ticket. As this requires only that transportation employees look at customers’ smartphones, this is the most straightforward and least costly implementation. Thus for smaller or less active stations, this may be an attractive option.

Smartphones will also have barcodes displayed on the screen as an alternative method of authorizing passengers. These may be scanned using the camera function of personnel’s own smartphone devices.

Ticket validation via NFC – for now, this will be somewhat limited as many consumers lack NFC-enabled mobile devices. For those that do not have NFC, they may show the visual animation displayed on their smartphone screen as an alternative method of verification.

Transportation companies may choose to implement multi-mode gates for ticket validation in busier, more active stations. These gates are able to authorize customers’ tickets through several methods, including NFC, barcode scanning, or reading paper tickets. Compared with smart card technology (viewed as an alternative technology for ticket validation), companies deploying smartphones and the mobile ticketing app developed by Masabi may recognize substantial cost savings. Rather than installing new ticketing machines in each station to read smart cards, transportation organizations are deploying consumer-grade smartphones to their employees to read barcodes with their internal camera.

As MBTA innovation director Josh Robin put it, this is the “bring your own infrastructure” trend for B2C transportation organizations.

The MBTA is expected to fully launch its mobile ticketing app deployment in the next five to six weeks. Consumers will be able to purchase the app through their device’s respective app stores, and purchase daily or monthly passes within the app.

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