The Hex Tag

This week at a transport conference in Berlin, UrbanThings CEO Carl Partridge unveiled the Hex Tag to operators from Europe and further afield.

This represents the first public outing of a core technology innovation behind Ticketless.

 

A Hex Tag is a 3-in-1 combination of NFC, QR and Bluetooth used to uniquely identify a vehicle. By letting a passenger’s smartphone know the exact vehicle they’re travelling on, we can do something pretty exciting. We can flip tradition on its head and use your phone as a sole, trusted ticket validator. The result: a MaaS-ready, future-proof validation and fare collection system for 95% less capital investment than old-fashioned ticket machines.

Hex Tag, say hello to buses, trains, bikes, e-taxis, rental scooters, autonomous vehicles — the flexibility and low cost of the format means that it can sit within any mobility service. The Ticketless app uses them to track not only when you’ve entered a vehicle, but also when you get off. This new, innovative form of Be-In/Be-Out ticketing ensures that passengers pay the best price for the transport that they use.

 

More functionality, lower price. Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? It makes you wonder why something like this wasn’t done sooner.

The Hex Tag is the culmination of a lot of big advancements in mobile tech in recent years. It isn’t until now that all the pieces fit so perfectly together in the palms of passengers’ hands.

Widespread 4G data coverage, robust biometric security, cross-platform NFC, leaner smarter Bluetooth… For the first time, people are now carrying fully secure smart payment systems in their pockets. Hex Tags allow transport operators to harness that power without any of the overheads of traditional hardware solutions.

Ticketless and Hex Tags are more than just a way for operators to get low cost m-Ticketing. They’re a vision for the future. A future of smaller-occupancy on-demand transport vehicles which aren’t built to house bulky ticket machines. A future of sustainable cities with cycle share schemes. A future where people are free to design their own travel systems to suit their needs.

A flexible future needs a system that can be deployed in days, not months, and doesn’t price innovative new players out of the game.

One last thing. We’re not keeping Hex Tags to ourselves; we are releasing the format as an open specification for vehicle identification. These embedded vehicle IDs can integrate seamlessly and affordably with third party apps, unlock innovations in customer service, fault reporting, route optimisation, driver training… We can’t wait to see what the community comes up with.


We can’t wait to share with you some examples of Hex Tags in action. Stay tuned over the coming months to learn more!

UrbanThings Joins ITxPT

Working towards standardised transport IT systems

We’re proud to announce that we’ve joined ITxPT as an associate member.

The Information Technology for Public Transport initiative aims to develop standards for Plug & Play IT solution for public transport operators. With the collective expertise and efforts of global industry leaders, they hope to ensure that the rollout of quality, innovative transport technology is as smooth as possible.

As new mobility services emerge, UrbanThings hopes to play a vital part in generating passenger data and facilitating ticketless travel. The ability to interoperate with a wide variety of fleets is a vital foundation of this.

UrbanThings Announces Partnership with Ticketer

Mobile app specialists UrbanThings have recently entered into a partnership with leading ticketing platform Ticketer. The two companies will jointly develop a range of innovative mobile applications.

The partnership will involve close collaboration between the two companies, with UrbanThings developing pioneering mobile apps for Ticketer with features ranging from live public transit times to intelligent journey planning and future innovative applications.

Continue reading “UrbanThings Announces Partnership with Ticketer”

UrbanThings: A TfL Hackathon winner

After an exciting and busy week of hacking, Friday the 30th of September saw TfL’s Data in Motion Hackathon draw to a close. Teams were invited to present their ideas to a panel that consisted of representatives from TfL, Geovation and Amazon Web Services.

We are pleased to reveal that UrbanThings was named as one of the winners. After a tense period of deliberation, the judges reviewed the entries and were particularly impressed by our Top Secret Idea™ (shhhh). As a nice bonus, we were also awarded some pretty cool prizes to take away.

It was really useful to spend a solid week generating ideas from the new datasets TfL provided, and we are looking forward to developing our idea directly with TfL as they seek to maximise transport capacity throughout the capital.

Watch this virtual space for the next big thing!

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Transport for London Hackathon Week

This week sees the UrbanThings team hacking their way to a potential new transport solution for TfL. The Data in Motion event was launched on Friday the 23rd of September at Amazon’s Holborn headquarters with talks from TfL, Amazon Web Services, Geovation and King’s College London.

Friday’s launch invited developers, digital start-ups and anyone with a passion for data, to build an application to help manage capacity on London’s transport network.

TfL’s challenge for UrbanThings is:

• Understanding the capacity of the transportation networks in real time
• Detecting incidents and their impact on network capacity in real time
• Visualising the state of the networks and predicting how they will look into the near future


Launch event speakers included TfL’s Rikesh Shah on open data, Alan Bristow on roads and Lucy Fish on network capacity. Plus Kris Burtwistle from Amazon Web Services, Alex Wrottesley from Geovation, and a talk on air pollution by Andrew Grieve of King’s College Environmental Research Group.
 
The UrbanThings team has been reviewing the data, and distilling our ideas into a clear concept that we’re looking forward to presenting to the judges later this week at Amazon’s Holborn office. Fingers crossed we can (hopefully) wow the judges!
 

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Infographic, header image and group Q&A image courtesy of Transport for London

API Hackathon 3: Travel Bristol (on a Budget)

The next Bristol API Hackathon date will be Saturday 8th October and UrbanThings are excited to be visiting Just Eat’s Bristol HQ with Connecting Bristol.

October’s event is going to be focused on ideas for innovative solutions for getting around Bristol while saving money – hopefully a useful one for cash-conscious students! Our development and platform team will be on hand to provide technical tips and we look forward to hearing all your ideas. The day’s most innovative solution wins £100 – plus the chance to win a £1000 digital workshop with leading creative agency Big Mallet.

Tickets are available through Eventbrite – book now to secure your free place.