PETRA develops two demonstrations in the city of Rome, hosted by RSM.
Rome demonstrator 1: Mercy Jubilee and trip planner
In February 2015, Pope Francesco declared in a completely unexpected way the Mercy Jubilee, the announcement has completely changed all the priorities in the city, as we had only few months to organize everything.
A Jubilee is a very complex event to manage, for these reason during the last Jubilee organized in 2000, Rome has built the Mobility Control Center that now is managed from Roma Servizi per la Mobilità as Rome mobility is obviously always deeply influenced by the presence of the Vatican City.
The main critical issue is not represented by the major events but by the day by day increasing “touristic” flows that want to use public transport during the peak hour. This situation can stress the system in a not sustainable way.
The main mobility strategy consists of trying to convince people to reach Vatican City walking through special paths equipped to this scope or using urban railways that are not as loaded as the underground is. The focus is to discourage the use of the underground infrastructure, even though it may look attractive as there is a Vatican stop on line A.
Immediately after the Jubilee declaration, RSM understood that this event represented a big challenge for the PETRA project but also a big opportunity for its development. Moreover, suddenly pedestrian mode became something of which to take care also in Rome (and not only in Venice). This is the reason why we decided to add to the original Rome use case also a second demonstrator inspired by what the PETRA project could develop for Venice.
The Mobility Control Center of Roma Servizi della Mobilità serves as a data collection center on public and private mobility:
- Position and speed of public transport vehicles (buses)
- Programming: schedules and bus routes, timetables of Limited Traffic Zones (ZTL)
- Traffic sensors with various technologies (measuring stations, OCR cameras, floating vehicle data)
- Video surveillance cameras
- Editorial news, events, press releases and other agencies (eg: Police Roma Capitale) and other companies
- Social networks (user feedback)
- The data is then compiled and distributed through numerous channels :
- Variable message signs
- Electronic Pole
- Muoversi a Roma (multi- platform mobile information)
- This last channel, Muoversi a Roma, is an evolution of Atac mobile, the previous trip planner launched in 2007.
The mobile information platform Muoversi a Roma offers advanced services through different applications, such as:
- Responsive Web App – embedded in websites to advanced devices (PC, smartphone, tablet);
- Mobile website muovi.roma.it, to maximize the accessibility for older devices;
- App for Android, iOS , Windows Phone;
- API open data
Moreover, the Mobility Control Center delivers services based on knowledge of the state of the network in real time (the bus location, traffic) and on events and news inserted by the editorial board and the operators of the Control Center. The website muovi.roma.it counts around 65.000 daily accesses and 450.000 page views a day, using a multilanguage approach it also allows a profiling, for example for the storage of “favorites”.
All these solutions are based on a dynamic trip planner, which is focused on public transport (with the option to refine the route found) but it is extended to bike and ride, park and ride, car pooling, car sharing and private transport.
During the experimentation phase (Rome demonstrator implementation), the PETRA journey planner will replace the current dynamic trip planner of Muoversi a Roma. This means that the PETRA journey planner will go on line as the official service of Rome Mobility Agency. The integration between the old platform and the new solution has been done during the past year by IBM in cooperation with Mobility Control Center of Rome. We restructured all internal processes and we are almost ready to switch to the new system.
Putting the PETRA journey planner into real online operation will allow us to use all our actual users as testers, solving in this way the challenge to involve people in the demonstrator.
The validation process is divided in two different phases. Before going on line, a test period is needed to evaluate the new journey planner quality. Two indicators are defined: a performance index and a quality index. Due to the high volume of requests, performance has to be guaranteed by the PETRA platform. We’ll duplicate the request arriving to the institutional planner also to the PETRA one and we’ll measure both response times. A journey planning operation doesn’t need to be extremely fast, taking some more seconds to give a better answer is fully acceptable, however, performance can’t decrease too much. Depending on first results and considering that the PETRA infrastructure obviously represents a demonstration environment, serving only a part of real requests could become an option.
The second part of the ante validation cares about quality. Actual journey planner is a widely used service and we need to assure that quality in the results is maintained. Comparing the quality of two solutions is not trivial, we’ll approach the problem using our internal mobility experts that we’ll analyze the logs produced by both the systems and will make an evaluation of their quality. In this case, mathematical measure like travel time are not suitable to reach the objective.
As mentioned, once the demonstrator ante test phase has been exceeded, PETRA journey planner will be put into real online operation, totally replacing / duplicating the current trip planner of Muoversi a Roma. The existing one could be maintained in case of continuous testing or for institutional constraints. In general way, all the existing application users of Muoversi a Roma will be automatically migrated on the new Petra journey planner.
It should be noticed that the current trip planner of Roma Servizi della Mobilità is an “open service”, it is accessible from software developers duly registered on our open data portal. This means that the journey planner is pulled by several local apps that include it in their interface. Switching to the PETRA engine would imply also the switching for third parties apps. This is something very interesting that will be evaluated, anyway the switch should be – from a technical point of view – as easy as possible, hopefully transparent. Including apps managers in the experimentation would be a great added value and another not negligible dissemination channel for the project.
During the demo period we’ll monitor end users comments, mainly in our social networks communities. Our twitter account has 120.000 followers and we have also a specialized developers community to engage for the test. We think that using social networks we’ll be able to obtain a lot of high quality feed, anyway depending on how the test will proceed, we could implement also interviews to a selected number of users.
As mentioned, the on line platform will solve the problem of finding testers. Rome Mobility Agency is the subject deputed to manage all the communication in Rome regarding mobility. A very advanced communication platform will be used for the project dissemination and this will increase the number of people interested to collaborate with us for the test.
The communication plan includes several channels for real-time information on public and private mobility, a short list hereafter:
- Papers (Metro): two pages insert written by Roma Servizi per la Mobilità communication services and published daily, Monday through Friday, within approximately 260 thousand copies of newspapers distributed free press Leggo and Metro subway A , B , B1 and in the streets of Rome.
- Social Network: by MuoversiaRoma Facebook page and Twitter account, it is possible directly engage our users.
- WebTV: The TV in the Metro A and B is transmitted in 21 stations through 110 monitors: 230 daily communications on public and private mobility; moreover 140 daily information news though 1.650 monitors of Atac Bus and RomaTPL, and on the monitor of the 45 trains of metro A.
- Metropolitan Radio: it is the digital radio station of Roma Servizi per la Mobilità which transmits 16 hours a day, 365 days per year in atriums, corridors and along the subway platforms of the metro A, B and B1 in Rome or streamed on muoversiaroma.it.
- Roma Servizi per la Mobilità will share with the press all news concerning the impacts of the project. It is important to highlight that Communication Department is present in the Operating and Monitoring Central of Mobility in Rome and it is continuously updated by a direct link with the operators.
Rome Demonstrator 2 – Activity Planner
As mentioned, the main strategy to manage mobility among the Mercy Jubilee visitors consists of the promotion of pedestrian mode to reach the Vatican City. It should be noted that the main goal of a pilgrim joining the Jubilee is to walk through the Holy Door. Obviously there is an Holy Door in St. Peters Cathedral, but there are three more Doors, located in the other 3 main churches. From the mobility point of view, we have four main destinations (with one of them more attractive than the others) and a multitude of minor destinations represented by properly touristic attractions. Previous pedestrian paths run close to the other three Doors.
The situation as described here is a situation very similar to the tourist planning use case in Venice and the conceptual Activity Planner in design for Venice could therefore also be experimented with in Rome.
The Jubilee Activity Planner, developed inside the Petra Project by IBM and initially designed for Venice, will be integrated within Mobility Agency institutional mobile app and website, this is a new feature that will be added to the existing Agency platform. Users will have the possibility to choice a set of destinations (including at least one Holy Door) by giving them a list of priority and the app will calculate the best dynamic path.
Taking in account the big number of Mobility Agency end users, a certain percentage of availability to use this new service should be found, moreover media channels for tourists will be used to catch new users for this demonstrator.
For the evaluation process, the project team will embed within the software a feedback link to measure users satisfaction. Here the community approach doesn’t seem feasible at the moment because we expect numbers more limited than those of the regular Journey Planner. The feedback link will lead to an online evaluation form.