Understanding asset standardisation through MIPTA

March 30, 2020
Chloe Johns

The world’s transport network is full of buses, trains, stops, stations and other vital pieces of infrastructure. Yet currently, there isn’t a universal way to identify all these assets.

MIPTA (Mobile Interface of Public Transport Assets) was formed in 2019 by a consortium of UK-based companies who had an interest in building innovative digital solutions. Its purpose was to standardise the way in which smart devices identify public transport assets, and to allow them to be stored and retrieved electronically via a number of distributed systems. As technology in public transport progresses, smart-mobility solutions involving Bluetooth beacons, QR codes, NFC tags and other identifiers, are being increasingly used across the network. The MIPTA working group thought it critical to the progression of the industry that everyone is on the same page.

Alongside UrbanThings, companies such as touché, ITSO, The Department for Transport, Ticketer, Go Ahead, SAM and other stakeholders have all joined together to see this standardisation of assets realised for mutual benefit. 

UrbanThings’ innovative Hex Tag technology uses Bluetooth beacons to lay the foundation of automatic check-out, CiBo (Check-in, Be-out) charging and distance fare models.

From an operator’s perspective, if they invest in technology like Bluetooth beacons, they need the confidence that they can be used across multiple suppliers and solutions. We’ve spoken about the perils of vendor lock-in before, and strongly believe that operators should look for flexible systems instead of those which are siloed. With the new standardisation, any Bluetooth beacons, QR codes or NFC tags that adhere to the MIPTA format can be used by other applications. This opens the door to interoperability, protects passengers privacy, and third-party developers can build exciting innovative solutions on top of the standard, for example:

  • Lost-property – Bluetooth beacons can detect which vehicle a passenger is on and at what time. It is far easier for the operators to identify where the item was left, and for the passengers to report it. 
  • Feedback on drivers – Passengers have the opportunity to report good or bad driving with ease as the beacon can identify what vehicle they were on. 
  • Reporting damage – Passengers can help operators maintain their vehicles and brand reputation by easily reporting damage.  
  • Advertising – Operators can provide geo-targeted advertising to passengers as the beacon will know where a passenger is.  

Bonus:

  • Trainspotters! – Railfans can know exactly which trains they’ve seen, and can even create hobbyist apps to allow them to tick them off as they go.  Gotta catch ‘em all!

These are just some of the types of third-party applications that can be developed if there is a standardised system. The benefit to suppliers is huge, and the operators can have the peace of mind that they only need to purchase beacons or NFC tags once, and they can still be used across any number of different solutions.

MIPTA has now completed its first 6 months of meetings, and the draft specifications are ready to be published. Discussions are underway with CEN and the British Standards Institute to get it adopted as a global standard. 

If you’d like to know more about the MIPTA working group or how you can get involved, contact the UrbanThings team