However, due to advances in wireless computing technology, systems that utilize off-the-shelf, industry standard 802.11(x) devices that eliminate the need for manual involvement in the data transfer process have been designed.
In 2000, APC systems began migrating to automatic data transfer methods to get information to and from the vehicle.
However, the first systems did not have any security during the data transfer process resulting in potential network security problems. Transit agencies were not comfortable with data being transferred over an open network and began requesting some form of secure data transmission. As a result, Init Innovations in Transit, began offering a WEP (wired equivalent protocol) security key developed by CISCO to upload and download the data to the vehicle.
WEP encryption relies on a secret key that is shared between a mobile station (for example, a laptop with a wireless ethernet card) and an access point (i.e. a base station). The secret key is used to encrypt packets before they are transmitted, and an integrity check is used to ensure that packets are not modified in transit. In practice, most installations use a single key that is shared between all mobile stations and access points. The static nature of the shared secret keys emphasizes this problem.
802.11 does not provide any functions that support the exchange of keys among stations. As a result, system administrators and users generally use the same keys for weeks, months and even years.
Today, transit agencies expect to have ITS technologies that utilize the most advanced method of data security. Kyle Brimley, APC project manager for UTA in Salt Lake City, is the first agency to have its vehicles equipped with Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol (PEAP) security standard for the data transfer. PEAP presents a strong authentication method and a dynamic WEP key encryption.
PEAP actually encompasses a two-step process: first the system establishes a secure connection via encryption to create a tunnel, secondly it authenticates the client through a user ID and password system.
At UTA, 41 light rail vehicles have been installed with APC equipment and WLAN equipment for data transfer configured with PEAP standard security. Now, UTA has opted for an additional 28 vehicles to be equipped with APC and the highly secure PEAP. Secure data transfer from and to the vehicle is an important feature for UTA, and more agencies will require such a standard for data transfer in the future.
Init uses a combination of active and passive sensor technology from IRIS to count the passengers getting on and off the vehicles. Of the numerous installations completed, some transit agencies have installed APC onsite as an aftermarket product for current vehicles or coordinated with OEMs to complete APC installations at the manufacturer for newly purchased vehicles. Some transit agencies opt only for APC while others incorporate APC into Computer Aided Dispatch/Automated Vehicle Location (CAD/AVL) systems.
In addition to the vehicle hardware and WLAN infrastructure, the software provides required information for National Transit Database (NTD) reporting. Providing accurate and concise information to the FTA is not only mandatory, but very important. Federal money is decided and dispersed based on ridership trends. The software suite includes a projection module which allows the agency to project the APC data fleetwide. An alternative approach allows agencies to distribute the APC vehicles throughout the service area during the month to obtain passenger counts service wide.
BENEFITS OF APC SYSTEMS