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Interoperable smart card data management in public mass transit

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Due to a lack of shared practices of deployment, installation and application, the first commercial smart ticketing projects were built on proprietary specifications limiting their scope of integration and compatibility between them. As a result, a move towards global standards and specifications can be observed in current research as well as in practical applications. Therefore, interoperability in public mass transit has become a central aspect of e-ticketing. In this paper, we develop a standardised process on how to handle the emerging smart card data in an interoperable environment. The goal is to present a unified approach where data mining tools and model applications can be tested and implemented in every region embedded in the integrated network. The Interoperable Smart Card Data Chain (ISCDC), which is presented in this paper, provides a continuous procedure for standardised data handling and management. Using insights from expert interviews with German public transit entities, we deduce best practices on how to implement the ISCDC effectively.

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  1. 1.

    ISO 8824 provides the relevant syntax (Abstract Syntax Notation One) to represent the respective data elements.

  2. 2.

    Note that this does not imply that this data is purely stored at the front-end, i.e. on the smart card. Rather it distinguishes between data collected at the front-end that is transferred to the back-office and back-end-centric data that deals with data not emerging from the front-end operation. Thus, front-end-centric data is stored in the back-office, too, and not all front-end-centric data are stored on the smart card.

  3. 3.

    The file architecture presented here corresponds to a generically applied structure for open specifications examined in this paper. The content of the DFs and EFs may vary depending on the relevant specification. The file structure in this case, is based on the findings and propositions from the previous sections.


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An earlier version of the paper had been handled by Prof. Matthew G. Karlaftis.

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Correspondence to Stefan Voß.

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Covic, F., Voß, S. Interoperable smart card data management in public mass transit. Public Transp 11, 523–548 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12469-019-00216-x

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  • Smart card data
  • Intelligent Ticketing System
  • Interoperability
  • Standardisation in public transport
  • e-ticketing