Cisco has created a video analytics tool that promises to help public transport operators understand the nature of their passengers and their usage habits.

First trialled during the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress last year and showcased at Cisco Live this year, the system works by using video surveillance and machine learning to count passengers and estimate their age and genders.

The original trial placed the technology at four tram stops around Melbourne and on a tram itself.

“We used machine learning to detect people, which for us is a very challenging use case,” said Simon Young, industry advisor for energy and transportation in Cisco’s digital transformation group.

“How do you count people when there are lots of them in a confined area? Using machine learning, we’re able to not only count them, but perform a basic level of identification.”

While the trial only ran for the duration of ITS World Congress, it allowed Cisco to demonstrate its capabilities in the video analytics and data aggregation space.

“We were able to show how important it is to aggregate data and really get value out of pulling together lots of different data sources,” Young said.

“We’re starting to see customers wanting to pull data together from multiple sources, do it securely, quickly, and use the aggregated data to make decisions and present them in a user-friendly manner.”

He added that the trialled technology could be applied across multiple modes of transport, allowing for better insight across the different travel options available to customers.

“Once the data is aggregated, you can start to do a lot of other things, like understand how weather affects transport assets,” he explained.

“From a passenger experience point of view, you can introduce simplicity and efficiency by providing tram stop notifications that certain carriages are full and to use the ones with available space instead.”

According to Cisco, no upcoming trials are planned for the near future, but development of the platform continues today within the company’s digital transformation group.

Young added that such development just adds to Cisco’s IoT capabilities.

“We’re building on our Internet of Things story, which is basically connecting lots of physical devices together,” he said.

“What we’re also doing is evolving and moving up the stack, so not just connecting devices, but adding and aggregating data together, both from a real-time perspective and also from a historical perspective.”

Peter Gutierrez attended Cisco Live! in Melbourne as a guest of Cisco.