September 14, 2022
For most transit operators, communicating with dispatch means one thing – reaching for the radio. And while radios do make life easier for operators and dispatchers, they’re also the source of major headaches: cluttered radio lines, hard-to-decipher conversations, unreliable connections in dead zones, and inappropriate forums for personal or sensitive information.
That’s why we’re excited to introduce Messaging in Onboard App, a new two-way messaging system that offers a safe, easy-to-use way to communicate with operators.
Messaging in Onboard App, now available for all Onboard App users, is a simple text-based messaging system that connects operators and dispatchers via Swiftly’s Connected Transit Platform. Carefully designed to minimize operator distraction, Messaging in Onboard App offers an alternative to radio communication in some of the most common operator-dispatch scenarios.
Here’s how it works:
Let’s say a vehicle operator has a lower-priority or personal request for dispatch, like the need for a bathroom break. Instead of reaching for the radio, the operator can now open the Messaging tab in Onboard App to send a quick message to dispatch. (To minimize distracted driving, messaging is only enabled when a vehicle is stopped or traveling under 5 mph or (8 km/h).)
In the Messaging tab, the operator will find a list of preset messages such as “I need relief,” “Farebox Issue,” and other common requests. The operator can then select the preset message that best describes their issue – in this case, “Need Help: Bathroom break” – then hits send.
Once sent, the message instantly displays in Swifty’s Live Operations, where a dispatcher, or anyone else with access, can review the message and respond as needed. Dispatch’s response then flows back to the vehicle, where the operator can view it in Onboard App when it’s safe to do so.
What makes Messaging in Onboard App so powerful is that it opens up “asynchronous communication” to transit operations teams for the first time. Unlike radios, which require dispatchers and operators to talk to each other in real time, Messaging in Onboard App allows dispatch teams to take a step back before answering. Dispatchers no longer have to reactively manage requests as they come in. They can now proactively triage, rank, and respond to operator requests in order of urgency.
Messaging in Onboard App has the added benefit of freeing up transit’s notoriously cluttered radio bands. Instead of using radio communication for all issues big and small, dispatch teams can now encourage operators to submit lower-priority questions in Onboard App, opening up valuable radio bandwidth for higher-priority issues.
Messaging in Onboard App is also unique in that it helps to curb one of the most overlooked problems with onboard radio usage: distracted driving. Radio communication is so universal that we often forget that using radios while driving is a sizable distraction for operators. With Messaging in Onboard App, operators can now choose a safe time to review incoming information rather than having to answer the radio at potentially inopportune moments.
And unlike the message functionality in legacy Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs), Messaging in Onboard App is built on a philosophy of simplicity and subtlety. Operators can access the information they need at a glance, so they can focus on the demands of their job with minimal distraction.
Messaging in Onboard App is already helping operations teams in the field to streamline communication and improve operator morale. In northwestern Oregon, Sunset Empire Transportation District uses Messaging in Onboard App as a simple way to check in with operators during their shifts and to send encouraging messages at the start of the day.
Some of the most common use cases of Messaging in Onboard App include:
For dispatch and operations control
Ready to see how Messaging in Onboard App could help at your agency? Reach out today for an in-depth demo.