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NFC RFID Tracks Tram Ridership of Oregon University

Oregon Health & Science University is deploying NFC badge-reading kiosks at the two stations for its aerial trams, in order to understand ridership statistics in advance of a scheduled maintenance shut-down.
By Claire Swedberg

When a rider taps his or her card against the front of the NFC reader kiosk, the device captures the card's ID and forwards that data, along with a date and time stamp, to Serialio's server via a Wi-Fi connection, to be managed by the Cloud-in-Hand software. The badge reads from all eight kiosks are then collated into a single daily report at the end of the day, says Matt Dragomanovich, Serialio's solutions manager.

The software sends that report to OHSU, indicating which ID numbers were captured, as well as where and when. The university then pairs that information with the specific department linked to each ID, such as ophthalmology or cardiology. In that way, the school can track which departments have the most ridership, when this occurs and for what proposes—for instance, moving patients, or carrying specimens or organs.

Serialio's Matt Dragomanovich
With that data, OHSU intends to better establish the back-up infrastructure required to move traffic during the 2018 five-week shutdown. For example, shuttles may be provided at specific times and in particular quantities, based on ridership statistics. The information will also enable the college to share information with the departments that rely most heavily on the trams. "This will help us communicate with the departments," Basnett says.

The university can accomplish other analytics as well. For instance, the data helps the school understand how many people use the trams during lunch or at other times, when they may be riding to the waterfront to access food carts. Based on the ridership numbers, OHSU can then make decisions, such as moving or providing lunch carts at other locations. "As of now," Basnett states, "we are trying to determine the things we don't know about," related to ridership statistics. The school also expects bike ridership to increase during that time, and could expand the storage areas based on data collected from the valet RFID system.

After the temporary closure has ended, Basnett reports, OHSU intends to continue using the NFC kiosks at the trams. The long-term plan is to install automated turnstiles. Until the NFC kiosk deployment takes place, students and faculty must show their ID badge to OHSU tram employees, who confirm the authenticity and count the badges. In the meantime, members of the public must purchase a ticket and show it to the same employees. With the kiosks in place, an automated system for purchasing the rides will be available to members of the public. The system will print NFC-enabled tickets, and riders will tap their ID badge or paper ticket against the kiosk reader in order to proceed through the turnstile.

The NFC-enabled kiosks were installed for several weeks earlier this spring, Basnett says, but were taken down for technology upgrades. The initial kiosks did not react to card reads (either with visual or audible signals), so passengers were unclear whether or not their cards were being read. The revised kiosks will include a flashing LED light.

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