Digital Signage Increases Customer Satisfaction and Security on Milan’s Public Transportation Network
The Milan Transport Agency (ATM) is a private organization working in partnership with the City of Milan in Italy. ATM provides all of the public transportation services in the city, including underground, buses and trams.
In 2008, both parties started a project called “Transportation Renewal” with the objective to modernize the underground public transport network as well as the “above-ground” network. The revitalization process included replacing all the vehicles with more environmentally friendly versions, increasing the efficiency of the transportation network, increasing safety and increasing the comfort of travelers.
The goal is to complete the substitution or renewal of all vehicles and the modernization of the network by 2015.
“ATM is undoubtedly an important project for M-Cube, since it displays M-Cube’s ability to manage a high-profile, multifunctionality digital signage project in the public transportation sector. M-Cube has already developed the digital signage network of Milan’s Airport. The renewal project of ATM will contribute further to the new positioning of M-Cube as a professional supplier of digital signage for the transport service sector.”
– Leonardo Comelli Sales Manager at M-Cube
When creating the Transport Renewal project plan, ATM’s communication office identified that it needed to communicate more effectively and efficiently with the users of the transport system and with its own staff. The communication office needed to share important information for trains and buses regarding:
- Time tables;
- “Live” delay information in case of problems on the line;
- Alternate routes; and
- Safety messages in case of emergencies.
In addition, the system needed to function as a communication tool between ATM’s staff at the stations or vehicles and ATM’s headquarters so that immediate action can be taken in case of problems. To create maximum manageability, the network needed to be operated from a central control room.
The ultimate goal of the new network is to communicate efficiently and in real-time to all stakeholders internally and externally in order to improve the service to customers, manage congestions better and improve safety measures.
On top of this, with a good information system, the staff will no longer be tied up the majority of the time informing the public verbally regarding time schedule issues. They will be able to concentrate on other duties to provide better service to the travelers.
“The adoption of the Scala platform as ATM’s corporate decision to implement its digital signage network was a strategic choice. The new platform clearly meets the requirements of an ever-growing need to provide up-to-date and timely information to the public using our transportation services.”
– Roberto Carreri Project Manager IT Department, ATM
It was clear to ATM that a digital signage network needed to be created that could live up to all the information tasks. On the other hand, the existing services and hardware needed to be integrated in the new system also. Plus, the renewal project needed to take place in phases in order to keep the disruption and offline time limited to a minimum while the renewal project was underway, because the transportation and information system could obviously not be stopped at any time.
It was also a prerequisite to find a company that could manage and execute the project by integrating existing system functions (like panic alarm, “train at station signaling,” etc.) with the new digital signage system.
M-Cube was chosen to develop and implement both the underground and above-ground section of the network as it is a highly qualified multimedia company and it will be able to meet all the customer requirements within the set time schedule. M-Cube will also provide ongoing technical support and content management support. Scala was chosen to provide the software because it is the most reliable and flexible digital signage software on the market.
- Mezzanine: 42-inch LCD monitors are positioned above the stations’ turnstiles communicating ATM corporate messages, network service updates, alternative routes and emergency messages. The monitors are certified to comply with special safety regulations for displays at stations. They are sealed in unbreakable glass as a fire precaution measure, so they are impossible to set on fire and/will not explode in case of fire.
- Don’t Panic: Button for the staff that is connected to the “Mezzanine” monitors to provide default messages in case of an emergency. A push of the button will also alert the central control room, which will manage the messaging toward the stations that are affected by the situation or towards the entire network.
M-Cube has implemented the modernization of the Linate Express information pole display on the San Babila/Linate Airport line, substituting the old LED monitors with two 26-inch LCD monitors per pole to provide visibility from both sides of the pole. The monitors have received a special “optical bonding treatment” to ensure good visibility in all weather conditions, especially during bright weather conditions or when sunlight shines directly onto the screens.
These displays provide information about the position of the bus on its route, as well as the arrival time at the stop where the traveler is watching the screen. This geo-tagged mapping solution was created by M-Cube and was based on data provided by ATM.
All messages are communicated in Italian and English, and this content is managed by ATM from its central control room and is distributed via a wireless/3G protocol. The messaging consists only of service announcements or ATM promotions.
“The Scala software provides a stable and flexible basis for the complex digital signage network that is created by M-Cube for ATM. Scala is therefore very proud to be part of the Communication Renewal Project of ATM as a partner of M-Cube.”
– Oscar Elizaga, Vice-President EMEA, Latin-America & India, Scala
A number of external applications interact with the digital signage system that was created:
- The GPS functionality installed on the Linate Express buses provides on route information that is displayed at the poles at the stops.
- The existing data exchange system provides basic transportation information that is used by the new network.
- A detection device at the tracks delivers information about the presence of a train at a certain station.
A slow-down alert device signals the speed decline of a train. Decreasing speed of a train can cause dangerous situations because the tracks are used by multiple lines. Crashes occur when these situations are not signaled immediately so that action can be taken to divert or reroute trains. The interaction with this application was especially challenging to integrate in the new digital signage network, because of the completely different set-up of both systems.
The video information display system at the turnstiles has been implemented at present in eight underground stations comprising a total of 25 42” LCD monitors. ATM is planning to extend the project to all stations within 2 years.
The target for completing the installation of all monitors and displays for the entire underground and surface transport system Milan is set for 2015, along with the full renewal of all network vehicles.
M-Cube SpA, part of the Media-Technologies Group (Trieste, Italy), started its operations in 2000 from the vision of offering new technologic marketing solutions for the point of sale. Its activities started with the patented technology of web-based in-store radio. In 2004, M-Cube started its partnership with Scala for the Italian territory. M-Cube specializes in audiovisual/ multisensory technology and is a leader on the Italian territory for the development of ad-hoc solutions. As a dynamic company in continuous evolution, M-Cube is capable of adapting the new market trends to the specific needs of its customers coming from multiple industry sectors: banking, retail, corporate, hospitality and transport. More information is available at www.m-cube.it.
Founded in 1932, Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM) is a Public Limited Company owned by the Milan Municipality. We manage public transport in the Lombard capital and in 72 provincial towns, serving an area with a population of 2.6 million people. Over the years, the services provided by our company have multiplied, both in the transport sector and in the commercial and leisure sectors. Today ATM is a company that designs and manages services and hi-tech systems for sustainable transport. To optimize the management of these activities and offer a service able to meet the changing needs of the community the company was restructured as a group on 1 January 2007, with nine companies headed by the parent company ATM SpA.