Is the Train Late? Liberating Siloed Data for Commuters in Rotterdam

As IT professionals, we are always happy to know we have delivered technical services that help a business and business users. Seeing a development project come to life and work the way it was designed is rewarding and probably the reason why most IT professionals enjoy their jobs. So, imagine the reward and satisfaction an OutSystems Partner felt after developing software that not only helped out everyday citizens in their hometown, but possibly even helped themselves as they headed off to work.


Every day in the city of Rotterdam, 600,000 commuters ride trams, trains, buses and even a ferry around the city. That’s 185 million people a year depending on 46 transportation lines and 509 vehicles. While the system works efficiently and has high rates of customer satisfaction, occasionally an unforeseen event occurs and a line or more is blocked, or a vehicle is put out of commission. While this didn’t happen often there was no quick way to get that information to the commuters who needed it most. Commuters were stranded, left to wait and wonder and stare at their watches.

The solution: an Automated Communication Delivery System built by COOLProfs.

Known for their devoted attention to customer satisfaction and innovating solutions, the Rotterdam Electric Tram Company (RET) knew they had to change this. What they decided they needed was an automated mechanism that notified commuters via multiple communication channels as instantly as possible. They had plenty of logistical data to share in their back office. However, the challenge was creating a single, streamlined communications push outward. The transportation data in RET’s IT office was supported by multiple applications ranging from huge enterprise systems like SAP to an aging application maintained by a single developer who had worked on developing it. RET had rostering systems, operational systems, websites and even dynamic information panels to contend with. At the center of all of these applications were an SQL data store and a single travel information agent. When a line was down, the disruption to the system scaled up and took too long to communicate to customers.

COOLProfs, an OutSystems partner in the Netherlands, was tasked to create an automated communication delivery system that would cascade traffic messages to RET’s website, Twitter feed, SMS texts, dynamic displays at train stations, tablets for conductors, radio, and even a text to speech option for the hearing impaired.

Using the OutSystems Platform, COOLProfs was able to integrate all of the existing applications into a single multichannel communication tool. From an operational point of view, any line outage in the system can be announced within two minutes, and RET can maintain the application themselves. Commuters who opt in to receive messages from RET, follow the Twitter feed, or who check the website before leaving home get the same information as if they were standing on a platform in the station watching a dynamic panel. They are never left stranded. They are never left staring at their watches.

For the full story of the RET project, watch the video below. To learn more about how OutSystems can help you put your data into the hands of your customers, visit, www.outsystems.com.

About the author

Michel Ozzello

Although he's been working in Marketing for the past decade or so, Michel is still a geeky Software Engineer at heart. He tries to fit technology in every bit of marketing activity he does - from SEO to websites and digital advertising.

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