COTA Improves Mobility and Innovates Public Transit for a Connected Future

Cities require safe, reliable, and secure transportation systems, while also aiming to eliminate emissions and ensure fairness and accessibility for everyone. Some forward-thinking cities and counties are showing great enthusiasm towards improving their infrastructure. They are laying the foundation for a connected future by deploying industrial Internet of Things (IoT) solutions from Cisco. Columbus, Ohio is a prime example of this pioneering approach.

A bus travelling on the road
The COTA team recently started to upgrade its technology by installing new Cisco Rugged Wi-Fi routers on its fleet of 400 transit vehicles

Columbus is one of the cities hand-selected to become the home of a newly constructed high-tech manufacturing campus. The city population is predicted to grow by one million in the next 20 years.

Cisco has been working with the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), which is the public transit agency servicing the Columbus metropolitan area. COTA is proud to work as an innovator and has been making strategic investments for improvements throughout its networks and fleets to help support ongoing population growth. COTA chooses innovation and sees technology as something that cannot only improve mobility today, but also allows the agency to be more innovative in the future.

COTA started providing Wi-Fi service on its buses in 2017 as part of its mission “To Move Every Life Forward.” While “moving” includes transporting people from place to place, it’s much more. Mobile wireless for individuals on the bus can make a difference in people’s lives and that goal drives COTA’s investment decisions.

The COTA team recently started to upgrade its technology by installing new Cisco Rugged Wi-Fi routers on its fleet of 400 transit vehicles. The Catalyst IR1800 series is built to withstand the harsh environments of transportation. These industrial routers offer enterprise-grade security and high-speed connectivity through 5G and Wi-Fi 6 technologies. The routers bring not only 5G to customers, but also make upgrading to future technologies easy without requiring a complete system replacement. COTA chose the Cisco Catalyst IR1833 Rugged Router for fleet deployment. It’s part of the IR1800 Series, and offers several options for simultaneous secure connectivity, including multiple redundant cellular networks, Wi-Fi, Power over Ethernet, and the ability to pinpoint location accuracy even when there’s no GPS signal.

Because it’s a modular unit, instead of swapping out the entire router, only the module is upgraded. A module-only change is about 85 percent less expensive. And instead of taking 30 minutes for each upgrade, it will take five minutes. When this type of upgrade involves 400 buses, this approach is very manageable. For public sector customers, it’s important to know they’re spending tax dollars wisely and efficiently.

COTA uses IoT Operations Dashboard to see the location of the buses and if certain buses aren’t checking in, the staff can dig deeper to understand why. They may need to get a technical team member on board or may determine there is an issue that can be fixed remotely. The dashboard offers IoT services that allow the COTA team to investigate the router remotely and determine next steps.

Looking to the Future Connected Public Transit

COTA and Cisco are collaborating on a pilot with the Cisco Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul radios (Cisco URWB) for a fully enabled digital infrastructure. They are combining the onboard routers’ redundant macro cellular 5G and LTE services from a provider and private wireless solutions based on unlicensed broadband radios using Cisco URWB technology. By supporting a multi-wireless access path, COTA is utilizing digital solutions that enhance safety, customer experience, and operations.

COTA has a vision where they see all these vehicles and infrastructure talking to each other, helping them in understanding traffic congestion, where accidents may occur, and how to improve safety for pedestrians. They have taken the first step with Cisco by laying the foundation for this future.

This article was originally published by Cisco.


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