Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Crossroads - INNOTRANS 2016

Terry Staycer
Global Business Development Manager 

Readers of this blog might be interested in hearing how demands for software safety and security are growing not only in automotive, but in other transportation areas as well – specifically, the railway industry.

Last month in Berlin, the 11th annual largest global railway industry event took place.  It was a smashing four-day success in terms of attendance and powerful discussions.   I was honored to attend this event. Overall, the hot topics revolved around improving mobility issues, digitization in rail passenger and freight transport, and technology for digital services.  Safety and security  remain key points of concern.   

QNX's hardware partner, MEN Micro, introduced Internet on trains to ease passenger communication and increase convenience.  However, that comes with increasing risk in terms of bad actors' being able to hack into a rail network.  It is critical to ensure that rail systems are at their most secure and that there is no potential violation to a train.
Here is a summary of some other key takeaways from what is the leading trade fair for transport technology:

Evident Re-Focusing
There is a re-focusing of development regarding interlocking and signal control among many of the big rail players such as Alstom, Bombardier, GE, and many others.  Application code, hardware, electronics, and sensors are being outsourced. The rail industry is maturing like the automotive market.

SIL 2. All the way
Customers are pursuing requirements from European and Chinese regulatory commissions, and increasingly those requirements are emerging as SIL-2, and not the anticipated SIL-4.  With these lower Safety Integrity Levels (SILs), the level of system failure increases. Of course customers are still asking for SIL-4, but this is an interesting trend to note.

Security is Critical
Security is a maturing requirement.  At the recent Deutsche Bahn Cyber Security Congress security was a top priority, and it was a hot topic at Innotrans as well. Some of the questions emerging about the security include: If there is a cybersecurity violation, how long does it take to recover? And, how does one architect a system for resiliency to cyberattacks?

Fail Safe vs. availability

Fail safe is good, but high availability is a demand. This topic dovetails into the statement above. Systems must be available in a sense that requires redundancy and fail safe. QNX is well positioned to address this trend with a microkernel based operating system architecture that delivers high-availability and reliability, making it perfect for mission-critical operations such as rail safety. 

China and North America Expansion
China was the most represented company outside of Germany.  The Chinese high speed rail network will span 25,631 KM by 2030. China will boast a total track length of 120,000 KM by 2020.  In addition, North America will invest over $9.8 Billion per year  towards modernization continuing until 2022. Signaling, locomotives, and rail cars have the highest priority.

It is exciting to watch these trends develop and see which new ones will emerge.   

Already looking forward to Innotrans 2017!


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