Transportation: A moving target of opportunity

Robust technologies in transit, airports, rails, highways and other infrastructures signal jobs for systems integrators

The transportation market is one of the most diverse verticals, with numerous mass transits including rail, seaports, ground transportation, airways and the pipeline system, a mode of transportation for natural services. Each requires different technologies that adhere to addressing its issues and expectations, a challenge in itself as each of these five modes can be broken down further to include smaller specialized areas that have to be monitored and secured against potential security threats. Coastal ports that serve as the country's mode of waterway transportation cover large areas and often times include smaller ports, terminals and other facilities within. Ground transportation offers opportunities for systems integrator who offer solutions for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) while some of the smaller jobs consist of deploying mobile DVRs to provide real-time surveillance of activity on public buses and shuttles. In addition, technologies in each of these modes is only becoming more robust, with: text-to-speech audio announcements sent directly to a public address system over an IP network; video and audio verification becoming more prevalent on rail; a number of major airports adopting intermodal transportation hubs and seaports interfacing radar and sonar technologies with surveillance systems.

Know the pain points

Transportation holds opportunities for systems integrators but one of the challenges for those who want to stay ahead will be to keep up with current technologies and fine-tune their approach to a specific area of transportation and its needs. End-users are looking for ways to integrate different technologies under one system to eliminate redundancy. Yet, an even bigger picture for leading systems integrators in the transportation space is that cities across the country are starting to look at ways to interface the different transportation modes together with seamless communication systems. For example, when a train arrives five minutes late, the operator can send that message back to the central command center and that message gets out across the board, to rail and buses and whatever other transportation modes are interconnected.

One of the biggest challenges for systems integrators is the glacial pace it takes for new technology solutions in transportation to be implemented. This vertical market changes at a slow rate, mostly because of the amount of money it takes to outfit an entire transportation system for a metropolitan area. In addition, with state agencies, rail administrations and other transportation stakeholders, there are issues such as procurement and securing the fund, that may take years before technology on a project is actually implemented. Baran Design Associates, Bergenfield, N.J., which has worked in conjunction with the New Jersey Transit for the past 10 years, knows all too well the intricacies involved at this level.

"The New Jersey Transit is a very large state conglomeration of agencies-they have separate people for rail, bus, for design and data-so when you sit down with them, you are already at a disadvantage because there is a certain amount of internal bureaucracy that has a tendency to slow things down," said Mark Ramsay, president of Baran Design Associates. "Everyone has their own area to defend and their own things that they want to push forward. We know that the design and data people are chomping at the bit, ready to change things, but the reality is that it takes a lot of money, time and effort to get a project going," he explained.

Bureaucracy and funding

Another overriding factor in visible funding for these transportation modes is identifying which modes are public and which are private. The funding and technology deployment in these areas will also differ because the codes and regulations between public and private sectors differ.

This content continues onto the next page...