App developers wanted for ScotRail superfast Wi-Fi project launching this summer

App developers are being sought for an Innovate UK sponsored project aimed at bringing superfast Wi-Fi to rail travellers. The science and technology agency awarded £6m in 2015 to winners of its ‘Enhancing customer experience in rail travel’ competition, including £1m to Cisco for its SWIFT (Superfast Wi-Fi In-carriage for Future Travel) project.

The aim, said Cisco, was to “expose new businesses with creative, technical, and user experience capabilities to the UK rail sector, enhancing the customer experience in rail travel”. Currently, Wi-Fi on trains is delivered using ‘bonded mobile solutions’; essentially providing Internet access to whole trains via a handful of tethered smartphones. Superfast in-carriage Wi-Fi will depend on trackside links to the core network and Cisco has been using trackside fibre to develop the capability and demonstrate the potential for 300MB of consistent connectivity.

Now Project SWIFT has launched the ScotRail Open Innovation Challenge, which includes, a Wi-Fi connected app store providing real-time open APIs and allowing new ways to digitally connect and engage with passengers. The Challenge is looking for developers to build applications to address three areas; destination marketing, disruption management and a ‘wildcard’ category. Developers will be able to access the unique set of APIs and engage with a cross-section of stakeholders during an eight-week virtual incubator.

The proof of concept project, which will operate on four trains running between Edinburgh and Glasgow this summer, is a collaboration between the Rail Safety and Standards Board, ScotRail, Cisco, Level 3 Communications, CGI, Wittos, Intersection Analytics. You can sign-up for access to the APIs here, which will prompt an invitation to a Q&A webinar, and apply here by 16 July.