Supporting Citizens on the Move
Imagine sending an SMS text message that says what station you are at and the station where you need to arrive—then within seconds receiving a text response that tells you which station and train line to use. This is one of the many popular Journey Planner services provided by the agency responsible for London’s transportation services.
Today, Journey Planner services deliver travel information to the public via the Web; the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), which supports mobile wireless network communications; and more recently email, Mr. Bilton said. The Journey Planner receives more than 95 million trip requests per month from some 4 million unique users, and it has experienced 20% year-on-year growth. The WAP portals deliver 100,000 trip requests per month with a 10% year-on-year growth rate. Additionally, Travel Alerts sends out 950,000 email alerts and 900,000 SMS alerts each month advising of transport problems.
Moving Mobile Services Forward
Despite the popularity of its existing services, the agency had a vision for a new platform that would consolidate existing services, make it easier to build new services in the future, and expand the number of users supported, Mr. Bilton said. The agency also wanted to introduce rich-client applications to the Mobile Journey Planner Services Portfolio for mobile devices with advanced features, such as iPhones and Blackberries. Moreover, he noted, the organization looked to become more predictive—for example, publishing information about upcoming roadwork and notifying the people who use that route.
Enabling the delivery of these new resources “goes back to the fundamentals of service-based delivery,” Mr. Bilton observed. “If you’ve got a good platform there, and something new comes along that can utilize that platform again, then reuse it!”
For this reason, the agency mandated that the solution be designed and built using SOA principles and that an ESB serve as the backbone. Because the solution would establish a single point of integration for current and future services, the agency also wanted to strictly enforce governance and architectural principals, as well as define and reuse infrastructure, software and processes, Mr. Bilton noted.
The government agency further determined that it would best be served by an open source solution, and Godel conducted an analysis of leading open source middleware. The result of that evaluation was clear, Mr. Bilton said. The WSO2 ESB came out at least 50% higher in meeting the criteria than any of the other products considered.
Putting the New Platform in Motion
The advantage the WSO2 ESB’s open source code quickly became apparent as Godel began integrating the 26 existing applications and services into the SOA. Godel was able to make adjustments in the WSO2 ESB code to address some of the proprietary interfaces that did not work with anything else in the system.
Today, five key services connect to the WSO2 ESB: Journey Planner, Web, WAP, Kiosk, and SMS. Connecting to the WSO2 ESB from the backend are an Apache Tomcat application server, Oracle database, identity vault, WSO2 Business Activity Monitor (BAM).
“BAM was an absolute requirement,” Mr. Bilton recalled. “Every transaction that generates an SMS message or a premium SMS message is recorded in the database, and WSO2 BAM is used to interrogate that data to do logging and reporting activities," he explained. This provides the agency the accountability it needs to charge customers for the premium SMS messages and also ensure that the agency is being accurately charged by the SMS service provider. Additionally, the agency uses WSO2 BAM to look at trends in transportation services and better understand how they are being used.
One of the first new services delivered with the SOA was an Intelligent Router service, Mr. Bilton noted. The content-based router sends messages to the appropriate messages based on their content and then sends back a reply. One application enables a user to text an alert about a broken traffic light. The Intelligent Router directs the message to the appropriate systems, so that it can be corrected and a “thank you” reply can be sent to back to the user.
Mr. Bilton added that the traffic light reporting service was built in just two weeks, pointing to the power of the SOA platform.
To learn more about how Godel Technologies use WSO2 middleware to support to build a mobile transportation services platform, view Mr. Bilton’s full presentation here.