SNCB looking for volunteers to test new geolocation ticketing

SNCB looking for volunteers to test new geolocation ticketing
Image from SNCB

The Belgian railway company SNCB is looking for 10,000 volunteers to test a new ticketing system that adapts to a traveller’s route in real time using geolocation.

The test will begin some time this month.

“The SNCB is testing and innovating for its passengers,” the railway company said in a press release.

“In a desire to simplify the purchasing process, we’re considering adopting - in addition to all existing sales channels - a new way of purchasing tickets based on geolocation.”

The project was devised and tested in the SNCB’s Innovation Lab, a team within the SNCB that works on innovative ideas.

The new ticketing system would allow passengers to be able to check in when approaching a station or platform and check out once they’ve reached their destination, using an app.

“Thanks to GPS data, the journey is detected from start to finish, and the traveller automatically receives a final bill at the end, which is paid via the application,” SNCB explained.

The technology, developed by the company Fairtiq, is expected to save time by eliminating the need to enter data like personal info, departure and arrival stations.

Via a profile on the app, travellers would also be able to count on best pricing that takes into consideration their age and destination.

“Another advantage is that this technology does not require any infrastructure, as it is based on the GPS functionality present in all smartphones,” SNCB said in their press release.

“This innovation also allows for smoother travel, as the process is fully automated.”

An initial test with 440 SNCB employees and passengers was carried out successfully during 2020.

That phase enabled the accuracy of the technology to be verified and customer satisfaction to be measured, but it was not yet possible to buy tickets via the new system.

The second phase will now allow for ticketing, giving testers access to a limited number of products from the SNCB range (Senior, Youth, Weekend and Standard tickets).

People interested in participating in the second test phase, which will be spread out over several months and continuously evaluated, will need to register at the official website and download the ‘FTQ Lab’ mobile phone app.

The app is in compliance with European regulations governing all aspects of privacy in the digital world (General Data Protection Regulation).

SNCB will start the second test phase with 500 people, to gradually reach a maximum of 10,000 testers.

“A selection will be made from the applications received before the start of the test, the aim being to have a panel that is representative of the diversity of our passengers' profiles,” SNCB says.

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