Monash students' new app keeps commuters OnTrack

22 August 2014

OnTrack, a unique mobile application that allows users to see the location of their next train, how full each carriage is, and current information about their service, has secured Monash University students as the 2014 Telstra M2M University Challenge winners.

Monash University Engineering and IT
OnTrack keeps tabs on the Melbourne train station

Telstra’s challenge was to come up with an idea that was not only innovative and could change people’s lives, but also commercially viable, sustainable and marketable. The challenge saw 21 teams from across 17 universities display their most innovative solutions.
Team Captain, Ami Pasricha who is currently studying electrical and computer systems engineering said the challenge was a fantastic opportunity for different faculties to come together and work collaboratively on a project.
Monash has many faculties that have a direct connection to the different facets of machine to machine technology, all with a unique perspective to contribute to the design and entrepreneurial challenge Telstra set,” Ami said.
Weight-sensing modules and GPS receivers in the carriages send data to a server, where the app requires its information.
“The idea was quite logical as nothing is more frustrating than issues with public transport, and as public transport users ourselves, we have experienced such difficulties. The Telstra M2M University Challenge provided us with the perfect opportunity to develop an app that could really change the way people commute,” Ami said.
The Monash University app was designed through collaborations by the Faculty of Information Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash Art, Design & Architecture (MADA), and the Faculty of Science.
The app not only assists customers, but also aids public transport authorities by providing them with up-to-date data, which can be analysed and used in order to develop more efficient timetabling.
Professor Michael Vitale, from the Monash School of Information Technology, who helped to start the group off, said the students quickly found their feet and delivered a fantastic finished product.
“The students have developed an application that can be used by commuters every day. We can now see where our train is, how full it is, and potentially decide on a different route. The app will change the way we use public transport,” Professor Vitale said.
“Importantly, that app also leads to a reduction in the use of private vehicles due to the possibility of providing a better quality service, leading to the reduction of pollution and CO2 emissions.”

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