For many people, gone are those days in which using public transportation was left to the compassion of the drivers or train operators, traffic, and to a small portion of fate. Surely, there were printed timetables that you could look at and plan your journey with, but most of the time it was down to hanging on to a newspaper or a book as one waited and wished that the bus would eventually show up. That was pretty much about it. Then, mobile applications came about and ensured that riding public transportation became a far more predictable and enjoyable journey. 

When out and about by bus, for instance, isn’t it great to know whether you should rush a bit or take a step back and enjoy that fresh-baked roll before hoping in? How about avoiding overly-crowded buses, looking for alternatives in case there’s a bus stop closed, or some other unforeseen event along your route (hands up if you’ve never experienced a truck breakdown in the middle of the road just before the bus can take a U-turn?)? 

In many cases, applications catered to public transportation offer not only door-to-door directions but also the real-time status of buses and trains. Whereas this scenario is already a reality in many cities worldwide, not least in other German cities, bus users in Wolfsburg (Germany) will soon experience the benefits of an application that will allow them to time exactly when they might arrive at their chosen destination. 

At the forefront of technological innovation

A collaboration between JIG – an internet consulting firm providing internet solutions, integral management of services, mobile systems, applications, and intelligent management solutions; Wobcom – part of the Stadtwerke Wolfsburg AG (the mobility service provider in the Wolfsburg region) the company is a regional connectivity provider for the city and region and plays an important role within the #WolfsburgDigital initiative), and WVG – a subsidiary of Stadtwerke Wolfsburg AG, the application is being developed by J.I.G and will be ready for users next year. 

The initiative is the first phase of the long-term project GUARD*. Launched in 2019, it aims to create a cybersecurity framework to guarantee reliability and trust for digital service chains. Besides, J.I.G, FIWARE Foundation, and Wobcom, the following companies are also involved in the project: Maggioli, CNR, Italtel, Cnit, Minds & Sparks, Austrian Institute of Technology, Forth, 8 Bells, Nask, Mc2 Innovations, Law and Internet Foundation, the University of Rome.  

Whereas Wobcom will provide both the bus company with sensors for the data collection and the platform to host such data, J.I.G is in charge of developing the application, its integration, continuity, and reliability so that users can benefit from it in a trustworthy manner.  

“The application will consist of different types of information, depending on the users’ profile. It will show the status (in real-time) of buses and will provide valuable information to bus users, the fleet manager, and those in charge of its technical maintenance. Building on Wobcom’s infrastructure, JIG will develop the many different services that are part of the application and will connect with the FIWARE Generic Enabler deployed in it, such as the Orion Context Broker. The latter will be a key component in the application since it will be in charge of managing the flow of data in real-time” – Gonzalo Ezquerro Martínez Head of IT Systems and R&D at JIG.

For Giovanni Coppa, Wobcom’s Head of Data Center and Cloud Innovation, given that the application follows Open Source and common standards principles, the ultimate goal is to improve citizens’ lives, optimize the services offered by Wolfsburg, and foster competitiveness among its local economy. 

The majority of us in the FIWARE Community believe that open standards elevate public administrations’ ability to create replicable digital models and increase people’s choice and flexibility in the future. Competitive business and social pressures are redefining the relationship between companies, public administrations, and communities. In order to move forward in the digital era, companies need partners that have strategic competence and are committed to creating sustainable ecosystems around Open Source, standards-based, and innovation-driven technologies for the development of smart solutions. On that front, FIWARE Foundation, J.I.G, and Orchestra Cities (a solution created by FIWARE member Martel Innovate) have been outstanding partners in the initiative in Wolfsburg.” 

“Collaboration and Open Source software are a two-way street, with each party adapting themselves as much or more than the faster and projects they seek to change” complements Matteo Repetto, Technical Coordinator at CNR-IMATI, another partner in the project. 

Refraining digital processes and transactions from cyber-attacks

Whereas technology is transforming our lives for the better, it also exposes individuals and companies (of all sizes) to organised crime, online scammers, and hackers – and whole industries built around monetising personal data. The rapid adoption of whole digital workflows is fostering the creation of a digital market for products, services, and infrastructures. However, the composition of heterogeneous information and communications technologies (ICT) from different providers makes digital processes and transactions at risk of cyber-attacks.

Hence, GUARD aims to fill the technological and procedural gap between legacy cybersecurity models, novel computing and networking paradigms, by developing an innovative platform for the protection of digital business chains that encompasses two main dimensions: service integrity and data sovereignty. The project fosters the integration of security capabilities into each digital component and orchestrates them to improve visibility over vulnerabilities, attacks, and private data. 

In the second phase of the project, the bus application will be added to the GUARD platform, increasing the security of the data, a transparent application between the data collection and the data process, and so on. But that’s a topic for our next blog on this project, after the summertime. 

*The Guard Project is funded by the EU’s Horizon2020 programme, under the agreement number 833456.