“SEPTA Key 2.0” will bring the mobile payment system online, privacy issues and cyber threats lurking in the future

“SEPTA Key 2.0” will bring the mobile payment system online, privacy issues and cyber threats lurking in the future



As SEPTA emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, its five-year vision is to transform the transportation system, and one of its first tasks will be to develop what the authorities call “SEPTA Key 2.0.”

Five years have passed since SEPTA first introduced the long-awaited alternative. Outdated token fare system, This is the last such event in a major city in the United States.The implementation of the key card system has experienced years of delays and changes in project specifications, which is a difficult task Exceeded the original $140 million budget.

When SEPTA Key was fully opened to the public in early 2017, it was already in danger of lagging behind the innovation curve of other cities, where passenger convenience is usually achieved by overcoming the inevitable failures brought about by early adoption. (Oddly enough, for example, some SEPTA Key card holders Try to ride for free in Chicago and London A few years ago due to the unexpected crossover function of payment processing).

SEPTA has made several improvements to simplify the management of SEPTA’s key accounts, such as You can use your smartphone to deposit funds And expand the use of SEPTA Key card to enter the regional railway system.

However, the most important step forward for SEPTA Key-enabling passengers to use their smartphones to verify their fares-was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and many of the same installation obstacles that prevented the original system from debuting.

Blocking may ultimately prove to be beneficial to both SEPTA and the public. This will give SEPTA an opportunity to better predict some of the problems and technical challenges brought about by system upgrades.

On Monday, SEPTA issued a request for information seeking opinions and suggestions from suppliers who can provide expert insights on the fare collection for the future.

“SEPTA Key 2.0 will help ensure that we keep pace with the evolving fee collection technology,” said Leslie Richards, general manager and CEO of SEPTA. “This is an important investment for our customers and an important part of SEPTA’s strategic plan.”

Research on the trend of mobile payment technology will be the main focus of RFI, and it will provide information for future system upgrade requests.Agent Andrew Bush said.

“Part of the RFI will receive responses from vendors that develop similar systems elsewhere,” Busch said. “This will allow us to understand what is happening elsewhere, what is happening, and what people expect to move forward.”

SEPTA announced for the first time Realize mobile fare payment at station kiosks and ticket kiosks Go online in December 2019. Through Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, student ID and other compatible mobile platforms, passengers are promised a more convenient future through contactless fare payment.

According to SEPTA’s current $4.3 million contract with Conduent, installing hardware for this change has become another expensive large-scale project. The New Jersey company was formerly a subsidiary of Xerox, which was responsible for the original contract and specifications for the development of SEPTA Key.

SEPTA and Conduent are upgrading more than 5,000 ticket booths and revolving doors to make them compatible with mobile payments. Conduent manages the SEPTA Key Fare system as a third-party supplier.

Busch said that the pilot test of mobile fare payment may begin in the fall and is expected to be rolled out in the entire system early next year-possibly starting from the toll box on the bus.

The new RFI focuses on maintaining a leading position in future projects undertaken by SEPTA, whether it is with Conduent or other suppliers.

Elsewhere, Apple Pay, Google Pay and other mobile payment systems have been introduced into public transportation in cities such as New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, and London.

The implementation of this technology is not without problems, especially in terms of passenger data and privacy, because edge An inspection was conducted through New York City’s OMNY fare payment system last year.

In the pandemic last August, SEPTA’s IT department was attacked by a cyber attack This resulted in the authorities temporarily shutting down customers’ real-time traffic information. Over 2,000 employee email accounts were attacked, causing workflow problems and internal nightmares.

SEPTA Key was not affected by the cyber attack because its server is operated by Conduent and is completely separate from other servers of the organization.

The deeper commitment to mobile fare payment technology, and the attendant risks of third parties collecting passenger data, still raise issues that deserve careful scrutiny by SEPTA and the public.

Mobile privacy is an obvious aspect of this new field, but the potential of third-party strategies may also isolate SEPTA from certain aspects of system management responsibilities. Riders who rely on the system to get where they need to go can’t actually refuse the terms of service.

“The security component is the key. This is when we collect more information through this RFI and when we start to obtain new contracts,” Busch said. “This is the source of our expectation of expertise-people in this field who are working on these systems. They will provide us with information to help us ensure that we follow best practices, no matter what action we take forward to have the greatest degree of user information Protection. This has always been a high priority.”

Third-party companies are not necessarily more resistant to cyber attacks than unsuspecting transportation agencies, which may be considered more vulnerable targets with less complex firewalls.

Cubic is a company that designs and manages contactless payment platforms in New York and San Francisco. The company was hacked and ransomed in 2016 under the threat of the Muni light rail system in the Bay Area to release encrypted data.The Transportation Bureau said Never considered paying a Bitcoin ransom, But to provide riders with free access to the system when the problem is resolved with the help of federal authorities.

Busch stated that any future RFP involving SEPTA Key will value the supplier’s ability to protect and protect data.

“This is the most important thing – how do you keep this information safe, and what plan do you have to ensure you respond to emerging threats,” Busch said. “We don’t know what the next source of malware attacks might be. They must provide assurance and a reliable record of dealing with such threats elsewhere. How can they prevent it?”

From another perspective, some critics of technology-supported fare payment systems believe that innovation May be inherently bad for low-income riders, They may not have a bank account, mobile payment app, or debit card to associate their trip.

It is not yet clear how SEPTA plans to maintain the fairness of its fare payment system, but the authorities are carefully studying How to completely redesign its bus network Consider these and other issues.

SEPTA did not specify what other types of upgrades to SEPTA Key will be considered in addition to expanding the mobile fare payment function. The authorities published three goals in their RFI:

• Develop a proactive organization: create an agile system that can be constantly adjusted to take advantage of the latest technology, improve operational efficiency, and meet the changing needs of SEPTA and its riders
• Provide an intuitive experience: Provide rider-oriented products and systems that are easy to use and easy to access
• Provide a seamless transportation network: integrate products and solutions from SEPTA and other regions-as a platform for establishing partnerships with regional mobile service providers

Busch said that figuring out the future of mobile fare payment represents a new field.

“This is part of the reason why we do RFI. We don’t usually do it, and we don’t introduce such a thing for every project,” Busch said. “We know that we need to collect the expertise and information of people who specialize in this work. They are at the forefront of studying these technologies-not only now, but also our expectations for the future. They have insights into what mobile payments will develop. , We should consider adding what other cities are doing.”

Busch added that SEPTA is committed to a transparent process to let the public know about future projects and what they mean for riders. For the final RFP, there will be a period of time to seal the bid, but any final project details will be made public before implementation.

“We hope to get information at the beginning of this process to let people know that we are contacting suppliers to advance this project,” Bush said. “We will provide the public with the latest news on what is happening, and we are absolutely committed to keeping the process transparent and moving forward.”

Those interested in providing professional knowledge and verified suggestions to promote the development of SEPTA Key will respond to the RFI before 3 pm on Monday, August 9


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