Internet of trains takes centre stage for Cisco IoT startup contest

Cisco launches contest to help startups and SMEs engage the transport sector around the internet of things (IoT) for railway stations of the future

Cisco has launched a contest to encourage startups and SME technology companies to develop internet of things (IoT) systems for public transport.

The Connected Transport Challenge will focus on areas where smart systems, designed to create value around what Cisco terms "the Internet of Everything", can best be pitched.

Cisco defines the Internet of Everything as a concept that engages people, besides just IoT systems.

Areas of interest include physical security, retail, passenger experience and infrastructure operations. Contest entrants will develop next-generation, proof of concept "station-as-a-service" systems – creating a technical, operational and commercial model for stations in the future.

Cisco has partnered with Telent, Abellio and Workware Systems to run the two-year innovation project, which will be co-financed by non-profit organisation the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills quango Innovate UK.

With parts of the UK’s rail network nearing capacity, Cisco wanted to explore ways to mitigate congestion and delays across the network.

It is already working with Network Rail, the body in charge of managing the UK’s rail infrastructure, to deliver an internet protocol (IP) multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network. The network will support a multitude of sensors and is intended to make the work of maintenance engineers safer, among other things.

Cisco UKI chief executive Phil Smith said: “Britain’s transport infrastructure is under pressure like never before; with networks increasingly congested, the economic consequences become ever more severe. The long-term answer lies in facilitating an entire step-change in the way we approach travel and designing technologies to enhance efficiency through the 'Internet of Everything'.

“The Connected Transport Challenge provides the rare opportunity for innovative UK talent to demonstrate its technological ingenuity to some of the rail industry’s major stakeholders. Over the next six months it will be fascinating to witness the future of the UK transport industry in the making.”

Finalists in the programme will showcase their ideas at the Cisco IoE demo lab in Warwick, as well as receiving a £10,000 grant and mentoring services around marketing and legal services.

Cisco hopes to demonstrate the successful systems in March 2015, and plans to conclude negotiations with rail stakeholders in April 2015.

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