Covid-19: Real-time crowd-density app being developed for public transit users


UITP (Union Internationale des Transports Publics), the International Association of Public Transport, has announced that it is participating in a new EU-project to develop a mobile application to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 by managing density on public transport and in public spaces.

The new application Co-Aps constantly gathers data (from occupancy sensors, cameras, ticket validation, etc.) to determine the crowd density in a specific station, vehicle or area. By providing citizens with this information, they can make an informed decision about their journey.

But, Co-Aps is not only developed for passengers, it is also developed by passengers. Because it also gathers additional data by asking public transport users to provide information on crowds. Through in-app challenges and games, travellers are asked questions that should help creating a full and real-time picture of the situation. How busy is it in a specific station? What percentage of passengers is wearing masks? By participating in challenges, travellers gather points, which they can exchange for discounts, tickets, or other services.

Co-Aps is funded by EIT Urban Mobility, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Since January 2019, EIT Urban Mobility has been working to encourage positive changes in the way people move around cities in order to make them more liveable places.

“We must take the opportunity to continue ensuring that our sector provides the best possible environment for passengers during Covid-19 and beyond. Public transport must be at the heart of cities when we build back better to a future post-pandemic. The Co-Aps initiative contributes greatly to this effort,” says Umberto Guida, senior director K&I at UITP

Even though scientific evidence so far seems to indicate that there have been very few contagions on public transport systems, which is proving to be a safer place than many, it is important that the sector continues its efforts to provide the safest possible environment for travellers.

CO-APS will be tested in four pilot cities in Europe: Istanbul, Sofia, Barcelona and Karditsa.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).