In the current process it takes passengers a long time to find and provide their tickets to inspectors, who then validate them via a visual check. The ticket validation process could be improved in several areas.
- Provision: It takes passengers a long time to find and provide their tickets to inspectors.
- Validation: Visual ticket validation takes manual effort and may have a high error rate.
- Security: Digital tickets might be shared between passengers.
To reduce validation time, manual effort and error-rate, a solution was created that expedites and automates the retrieval and validation of digital tickets.
Our approach offers passengers an option to have their tickets displayed on their phone automatically upon ticket validation. Inspectors are supported with a way to validate tickets electronically. The solution gives both passengers and inspectors full awareness of the validation process while allowing passengers to use the parts of the solution they are comfortable with.
Solution components & technologies
QuickTick consists of the following solution components:
- Passes: Passes enable digital notifications and fast ticket-retrieval upon validation. They can be issued to registered users.
- QR-Codes: QR-codes on passes are used to retrieve passenger’s account- and ticket-information.
- BLE-Technology: The inspector’s phone broadcasts an electronic signal by which passenger’s passes get triggered and notifications are displayed.
- Security: Validating tickets via user-accounts makes it impossible to share digital tickets between passengers. Phone number verification at login reduces the likelihood of account sharing.
Bluetooth-Low-Energy is a wireless technology that transmits data over short distances through radio waves. A BLE-beacon is a device or application which broadcasts programmed information that can be received by other devices. Beacons are programmed in various protocols e.g., iBeacon [Apple] or AltBeacon [Android]. The distance at which a signal is broadcasted can be set programmatically. Therefore, it is possible to notify only users at close distance. All standard mobile phones offer BLE support and can send and receive BLE signals.
Passes allow easy management of users’ passes or tickets. Passes can appear on phones based on certain criteria.
- IOS: Apple Wallet
- Android: Android Pay
- Cell manufacturer: other applications (e.g.: Samsung Pay)
Passes display user accounts, through which ticket data can be queried. Tickets are connected to accounts when bought. They can be accessed easily and fast from a user's phone (notification, wallet, hotkey) and from within a mobile-app like Wien Mobil. A pass management server needs to be set up for a productive solution to create, distribute and update passengers’ passes.
Time-based characteristics may be added to the displayed QR-code in a pass to prevent pass-sharing. A pass can be created in a unique appearance and configured to display or hide certain information from the user.
A QR-code is a matrix barcode readable by smartphones containing certain information and can be printed on paper, plastic or be shown within mobile passes or mobile-apps. It contains certain information which is provided at time of code-generation. A code-reading device or a camera on a phone can be used to read a QR code and extract the contained information. QR-codes can be included in mobile passes in various formats and be updated (on the client devices) by a pass management server. Manual input can be used as a fallback procedure if a QR-code can not be read due to technical difficulties.
There are various approaches that can be used to hinder sharing of passes/ tickets and improving application security at the same time:
- By connecting tickets to user accounts and using account numbers for validation, users cannot share digital tickets.
- In general, it is not possible to completely prevent screen capturing on mobile phones. But, including and regularly updating time-based characteristics in QR-codes displayed on passes, makes sharing of screen captured passes between users useless.
- Confirmation via phone number (2FA) at time of login reduces the likelihood of users to share their account with others.
The way the prototype works:
- The inspector’s phone transmits a BLE-signal which at close distance triggers passes on passenger’s phones.
- A notification appears on the passenger’s phones, which informs them about the upcoming validation.
- The passengers can retrieve their phone in advance to the ticket check and open their pass by tapping on the displayed notification.
- The inspector scans the QR-code on the passengers’ passes, validating any of the passengers’ tickets connected to their accounts.
Our solution reduces the validation-process steps and the total validation time:
- Efficient ticket provision and validation.
- Improved user experience.
- Reduced manual effort.
- Reduced validation error rate.
- Prevention of ticket fraud.