Mind the Digital Gap

Russell Goodenough
By , - InnovationTransport

Fujitsu first set out to research the perception of digital services across the UK in 2015. Back then, our research highlighted a nation on the cusp of a digital era. Our “Digital Inside Out” report, underlined the UK as a nation of leaders, employees and consumers who understand the impact and relevance of digital services.

That said, while there was much positivity, some industries were further ahead in the digital journey than others. The digital services offered by some sectors like retail and banking were rated highly, but transport in particular suffered by comparison, suggesting a lack of overall integration of digital into wider business models.

That’s one reason it’s been so encouraging to participate in Network Rail’s Digital Railway programme. I’m proud that Fujitsu has been able to contribute significantly to the most recent phase of Early Contractor Involvement in the Digital Railway, and support the launch of the lasted Digital Railway report in London last week.

Participating in the Digital Railway program places suppliers like Fujitsu at the heart of a digital transformation of Britain’s rail network, and delivers a tangible contribution to the UK Government’s emerging industrial strategy.

In this latest piece of work, we’ve joined other non-traditional rail suppliers, to offer cross industry expertise and experiences from other sectors including automotive, aerospace, defence, as well as information technology.

A number of common themes emerge from the final report which identifies important considerations for people, data, communications and commercial strategies as we increasingly digitise the rail sector. I’m pleased that the report recognises that transformation that increasing automation and artificial intelligence will bring, and the role for common data platforms in the industry.

In the introduction, Digital Railway’s MD David Waboso comments: “With technology and data developing rapidly across all transport modes, and our industry platforms changing so quickly, we are moving from an industry that is focused on infrastructure and trains, to one that is dominated by a set of integrated systems, all of which are supported and linked by data and connectivity.”

Naturally, significant transformation in rail – where safety and security are paramount – needs to proceed at pace but with caution. Appropriate governance, regulation and high integrity to ensure both data privacy and cyber security are essential, but if harnessed properly, digitisation will not only transform our customers’ experience but the productivity and efficiency of the industry.

Greater digitisation and better quality data are starting to deliver a paradigm shift in the industry, inside and out- from asset management to maintenance driven by predictive analytics, from passenger flow modelling to real-time timetabling based on demand.

When “Digital, Inside Out” was published, we might have said “Mind the Gap” – not for very much longer…

 

You can find Fujitsu’s Digital Inside Out Report here and the Digital Railways ECI press release here.

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