by David Baum
Traffic jams cost travelers hundreds of billions of dollars a year in wasted fuel and lost productivity. They also pollute the air by keeping cars running longer than necessary and increasing vehicle stops and exhaust-coughing starts.
Headquarters: Norwalk, Connecticut
Industry: High technology
Revenue: US$19 billion in 2014
Oracle products: Oracle Exadata Database Machine, Oracle Database 12c, Oracle Business Intelligence solutions, Siebel Customer Relationship Management, Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Database Appliance
Senior Vice President, Xerox State and Local Solutions
Length of tenure: 13 years
Education: BS in economics, Pennsylvania State University; MBA, Pennsylvania State University
Personal quote/mantra: “We’re not satisfied until we make your work work better.”
Enter Xerox’ public sector team, which is taking on some of the world’s most intractable transportation and traffic congestion problems with its work in more than 35 countries on everything from connected vehicles and electronic toll collection to smarter public transit and parking.
Scanning equipment above roadways picks up dedicated short-range communication signals from transponders in each vehicle or takes a snapshot of the license plate.
Parker Williams, Senior Vice President, Xerox State and Local Solutions
Scanning equipment above roadways allows Xerox to analyze millions of daily transactions.
A closer view of Xerox' roadway scanning equipment.
Parker Williams, senior vice president for Xerox State and Local Solutions, notes that more and more people worldwide are moving to cities. Consider that one-third of Americans, for example, now live in the country’s 10 largest urban regions, where it’s difficult to add highway capacity. “All metropolitan regions are looking for creative ways to move traffic more efficiently,” Williams says.
While each metropolitan region faces unique challenges related to geography, mobility levels, and cultural preferences, all city, state, and regional planners are striving to answer a common set of questions: How can we reduce inefficiencies, congestion, and pollution on our highways? Can we use technology to enhance mobility and improve traffic safety? Is there a better way to manage parking? What is the future of public transportation?
Xerox is helping transportation officials answer those questions using data management, storage, and analytics technologies from Oracle.Collecting Electronic Tolls and Fares
One of the biggest areas of investment for Xerox’ public sector clients involves electronic toll collection (ETC). Many tolling agencies have eliminated or scaled back the number of tollbooths and installed scanning equipment on or above roadways that identify vehicles as they pass by, either by picking up dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) signals from transponders in each vehicle or taking a snapshot of their license plates. In most cases, subscribers don’t even need to slow down. Their credit cards and bank accounts are automatically debited with the toll.
All metropolitan regions are looking for creative ways to move traffic more efficiently.”–Parker Williams, Senior Vice President, Xerox State and Local Solutions
Xerox also develops and deploys automated fare collection systems for transit operators. Rather than require people to buy tickets at a vending machine in a train or bus station, mobile technology lets people pay their fares by sliding a card or tapping a phone as they pass through a turnstile.
Throughout the US and in many other countries, Xerox has been working with Oracle to develop the back-end systems that process those transactions. Oracle hardware and software technologies store and analyze millions of daily transactions from electronic fare and toll collection systems.
Once the basic infrastructure is in place, cities can use these systems to influence traveler behavior and further reduce congestion. For example, the City of Los Angeles has set up high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes that let motorists bypass traffic gridlock—for a premium price. Analytics experts on the Xerox team have devised algorithms that adjust the toll rate in real time based on traffic conditions. In Northern California, the Bay Area Toll Authority processes toll transactions for seven state-owned toll bridges and dozens of express lanes. On the other side of the country, commuters in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area can ride the city’s rail, subway, and bus network using one fare payment system. In Montreal, Canada, riders use one card or app on their smartphones to access 3,000 buses, five train lines, and four metro lines.
Motorists on the US East Coast are familiar with the E-ZPass system. The Xerox public sector team maintains data collection equipment and operates back-office systems for 14 E-ZPass toll agencies in five states to process and analyze the data within an Oracle Database Appliance environment. A single operations center can handle data from multiple fare collection locations. Accounts are maintained in Oracle’s Siebel Customer Relationship Management system, financial transactions are processed in Oracle E-Business Suite, and data is analyzed with Oracle Business Intelligence solutions.Xerox: Leading the Way in Transportation
|Countries that use Xerox transportation solutions||Percentage of market share Xerox claims among electronic toll transaction service providers in the US|
|Amount Xerox collects in electronic toll transactions in the US each year||Amount Xerox collects in fuel tax and registration revenues each year|
|US$6 billion||US$5 billion|
|Customer service centers supporting 22 toll agencies||Transit fare transactions processed annually|
|Public transport tickets processed daily||Parking violations processed annually|
|100 million||16 million|
|Truck screening bypasses annually||Electronic toll transactions processed annually|
|51 million||2 billion+|
“Xerox collects more than US$6 billion in electronic toll revenue and processes more than 2 billion electronic toll transactions each year,” Williams says. “Our partnerships with technology companies such as Oracle help us to provide the IT services that are needed to run those systems.”Finding Patterns in the Data
Xerox generates revenue up front from its public sector clients by processing millions of daily transactions from travelers. Over time, that data has additional value in aggregate, as analysts at client organizations discover trends and patterns that help them reduce congestion and increase safety.
“Transportation planners are very interested in knowing where people are coming from and where they are going,” Williams says. “At what times of day are they using the facilities? What are the vehicle volumes per hour? How does weather impact travel habits? We are collecting a lot of data that lends itself to analytics.”
Ken Mihalyov, chief innovation officer of Xerox Public Sector, says data analytics ultimately make those metropolitan services more precise and cost-effective. “We can show transportation officials where their buses are being utilized fully or where they may have a gap in coverage,” Mihalyov says. “And then, with some further analyses, we can help them understand why it’s happening—to pinpoint the underlying reasons and underlying causes that result in certain types of behavior. Ultimately, we want to be able to predict what will happen if they make a change so that they can make the right decisions about how to improve operations for the city.”A Vision for Connected Services
Xerox is one of 15 companies to embark on a three-year partnership with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute on the Mcity initiative, a one-of-a-kind test site that is paving the way for advanced mobility systems in southeastern Michigan.
As part of this effort, Xerox has introduced advanced technology to guide drivers to available parking spots, a vehicle passenger detection system to monitor the use of high-occupancy vehicle lanes and HOT lanes, and a smart parking system that enables demand-based pricing—all layered with analytics. Analyzing traffic patterns lets cities and agencies expand their traffic systems, improve public transportation systems, and plan future highways more intelligently.
Next up is a project that will involve consolidating all modes of transportation services into one payment system. Xerox will be able to analyze the information to further improve its services, such as informing subscribers about available modes of transportation and the exact amount of time and money that certain types of trips require. This type of intelligence will also help the service providers predict usage so that they can maintain the necessary supply of bikes, cars, buses, and other public transport facilities to meet public demand.
Xerox is working with the Smart Card Alliance on the technology standards and business rules that will allow transportation agencies to offer subscribers the convenience to pay for multiple modes of transportation, including tolls, transit fares, ferry fees, parking, and even bike-sharing and car-sharing with one payment account. Big data analytics will permit city transportation managers to monitor traffic congestion, air quality, road capacity, and available parking spaces, all from centralized dashboards. Subscribers will receive alerts that include journey times, public transport arrivals, timetables and routes, traffic congestion and delays, and the availability of parking spaces.
For its transportation businesses, Xerox solutions are anchored by Oracle’s Siebel applications, Oracle Database, and Oracle Fusion Middleware. Xerox is also using Oracle Business Intelligence technology to develop dashboards that let city planners and dispatchers monitor traffic patterns across large areas.
Xerox is working toward a future in which commuters will be able to use a smartphone app to enter their origin and destination, preferred budget, and time constraints. The system will suggest the best route and modes of transportation based on the weather, traffic variables, and other stated preferences, such as a desire to ride a bike when the weather is nice. Subscribers will simply tap their phones to reserve bikes and cars as well as to pay fares on public transit. A carpool feature could identify friends who want to share vehicles, with the charges split automatically among the passengers. Travelers can also indicate how much they wish to pay for tolls and parking and how far they wish to walk from where they park to their final destination. The system will map out their entire journey, and even direct them to suitable parking spots that meet their requirements.
Oracle continues to invest in technologies that are important to our long-term strategy.”–Beverly Chamberlain, Senior Vice President and Global CIO, Xerox Public Sector
This type of system is bound to make the consumer experience easier, more enjoyable, and even more affordable, all while collecting valuable data to help city authorities manage operations and understand population trends. Oracle Database, various Oracle applications, Oracle engineered systems, and Oracle Business Intelligence solutions will continue to play an important role in Xerox’ connected-transportation initiatives and may also become critical in advanced parking and citizen mobility services.
“We have confidence in Oracle products and services to help us solve some of today’s pressing transportation issues, whether related to congestion or helping with safety,” says Beverly Chamberlain, senior vice president and global chief information officer of Xerox Public Sector. “Whether it’s cloud computing or financial reporting or analytics or many other aspects of our hardware and software infrastructure, Oracle continues to invest in technologies that are important to our long-term strategy.”
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