Station Master wins funding from customer experience competition
Sheffield-based software developer 3Squared has won a nationwide competition that aims to improve the UK rail industry’s passenger experience. The prize includes £50,000 of funding to further develop their Station Master mobile application, which uses indoor mapping technology to help rail passengers navigate unfamiliar train stations.
The competition was run by the Enabling Innovation Team on behalf of the Rail Safety and Standards Board and means 3Squared can now bid for further funding from a £700,000 pool. The application will allow users to select where they need to be in a station, such as a platform, shop, amenity or even an end destination, and then creates a step-by-step guide from their current location.
Station Master will be used to help tourists and irregular passengers find their way around, with directions available in a number of languages. But the app has also been created to help those with disabilities, using voice-commands and allowing users to select routes which avoid stairs.
The competition process involved the submission of a detailed technical and commercial proposal, with the finalists chosen from over 100 entrants. 3Squared had entered in the Discretionary Passengers category, for those trying to improve the experience of irregular and infrequent travellers.
The final of the event was held in central London this week, with attendees from across the rail industry including representatives from Network Rail, Centro, Southern Rail and the Department for Transport. The format required Managing Director Tim Jones to give a presentation on Station Master, followed by a closed question and answer session with an expert judging panel.
This comes on the back of a year where 3Squared’s revenues grew by 50%, thanks to new clients in the transport and construction industries, prompting EIT to name them as one of the ‘movers and shakers’ of the rail industry.
The panel said it was unanimous in its support for 3Squared, citing its innovative use of technology and desire to help both tourists and those with disabilities. Tourists to the UK last year contributed £2.4 billion to the rail industry, a number which is only set to increase.
After the ceremony, Tim Jones was delighted to have won the award. “The whole team has put in a tremendous amount of effort to get us here and it’s great to be able to secure that funding” said Tim “But the hard-work hasn’t stopped for us. Our designers and developers are keen to get to work on Station Master as soon as possible.”
James Fox, Commercial Director at 3Squared explained where the idea came. “We found that through our own research and findings from the National Passenger Survey, that a good proportion of discretionary rail passengers still couldn’t find their way around stations. Tourists and those with disabilities make a significant contribution to the UK rail industry and we hope that Station Master will help them to continue to support it.”
3Squared have been developing software for over 10 years, working with some of the UK’s biggest brands and have a number of exciting projects in development with Interfleet.
The runners up in the discretionery rail category were 4Ward Thinking, which makes station billboards interactive using QR codes, SMS and Near Field Communication’s, and Capito Systems for their software that allows users to request train information and buy tickets using spoken language.
There were also two other competition categories on the day, with Eddie Stobart taking the freight prize and ‘Commuter’, an intelligent intermodal passenger assistant, winning the regular passenger challenge.
David Clarke, Director of EIT, congratulated those who had taken part in the competition: ‘For the winners, this is a tremendous opportunity to kick-start some really significant concepts and turn them into a commercial reality that can be applied full-scale on the railway.’