Some background on Ecebs and ITSO
ITSO is the UK Government mandated open specification for interoperable smart ticketing. The specification was developed with the aim of ensuring that public transport operators throughout Great Britain can develop compatible smart ticketing systems. The ITSO ‘trust model’ ensures that smart ticketing is both fully interoperable and highly secure.
Rambus Ecebs have and continue to play a key role in the development and support of ITSO and major ITSO based smart ticketing deployments across the UK. We developed and support the ITSO key management system (known as the ISMS) which underpins every ITSO scheme in the UK, in addition we created and supply the ISAM smart card that is used in every ITSO certified point of sale terminal (POST). Both the ISMS and the ISAM form the heart of the ITSO trust model for all ITSO schemes.
Rambus Ecebs provide a suite of ITSO certified transport products that support Transport Operators, Local Authorities and Passenger Transport Executive bodies across the UK. Rambus Ecebs Paragon software, including our HOPS (our ticketing software engine that manages the smart transactions for travellers and communicates with the ISMS and ISAMs) is used in the largest ITSO schemes anywhere, including London, Strathclyde and Nexus (in the north East of England).
How the introduction of ‘Part 11’ of the ITSO specification came about
The increase in smart ticketing deployments across the UK has lead transport operators to look for new and low cost mechanisms to enable them to retail and deliver smart ticketing products to consumers.
Rambus Ecebs understood that to make such ticketing deployments truly scalable and affordable would require a different approach to that covered within the original version of the ITSO specification.
Within almost all secure IT systems, validation and trust of data is guaranteed by the use of cryptography and cryptographic keys which are managed in a trust model. For an ITSO smart ticketing scheme, tickets are trusted and validated against keys which are stored on a device called an ITSO Secure Authentication Module (ISAM), which is a smart card device, similar in nature to the SIM that is present in all mobile telephones.
Our idea was simple, remove the ISAM from the point of sale terminal (POST), store it in a remote location and enable secure communications between the POST and the RTD ‘back office’ to allow immediate ticket pick up and pay-as-you-go top up to a smart card or NFC enabled device. There is a huge cost saving for operators in not having to install an ISAM in every POST including:
- Cost of the ISAM
- The physical addition of the ISAM into the POST
- Ongoing maintenance
- The required ITSO certification for every type of POST using an ISAM in this way
Such an approach also makes it possible to introduce ITSO ticketing to a large variety of new or already installed Points of Service which do not need a great deal of complex software to manage the ticketing transaction.
Rambus Ecebs helped develop Part 11 of the ITSO specification with ITSO, and it was fully adopted by the organisation in 2010. This was an important step to ensure that the approach was available to all in an open standard, a vital requirement in any truly open and interoperable scheme.
This new approach:
- Enabled operators to expand their smart ticketing channels across a wide ranging retail terminal estate at greatly reduced cost
- Enabled consumers to securely download ITSO tickets or pay-as-you-go top ups immediately, in real time, to their smart media device such as a smart card or NFC smart phone/tablet and opens up multiple additional retail pick-up points
- Enabled retailers to open up multiple additional pick-up points, providing them with new revenue streams and opportunities
Bringing ‘Part 11’ of the ITSO specification to life; Paragon RTD
Rambus Ecebs developed its cloud based ticketing solution, called Paragon RTD, as we realised that this new, more innovative form of secure ticketing would provide new low cost channels to retail and deliver smart ticketing products. Paragon RTD is an implementation of Part 11 of the ITSO specification.
However, as with many simple ideas, the implementation of the idea requires a great deal of thought and design as it takes a great deal more than just an internet connection to deliver on line smart ticketing. Yet it remains crucial to deliver this smart ticketing capability in as simple and cost effective a form as possible. As such, Rambus Ecebs created an ‘Array of ISAMs’ hosted in the RTD cloud system which is managed by a cleverly designed, efficient ‘array manager’. This allows any of the hosted ISAMs to communicate with any POST operating within its ITSO ticketing environment. This delivers the most efficient solution to ITSO compliant smart ticketing in an online environment because scheme operators do not require one ISAM per Point of Service. Further, this delivers the ‘simple idea’ because the Paragon RTD software is easily integrated with existing ticketing solutions and so scheme operators can deliver smart ticketing without the need for significant infrastructure changes, while taking advantage of new technologies such as mobile smart phones as a ticketing platform.
ITSO Certificate awarded in September 2013 for our latest Paragon software upgrade
Paragon RTD was the first ITSO Certified ‘part 11’ solution, it is the only proven and scalable implementation on the market. It is now live in several schemes with customers already realising the benefits of the ability to purchase and download tickets instantly. However we haven’t stopped there. Rambus Ecebs have continued to develop new features and functionality to ensure our Paragon software offers complete support for customers and integrators. In September 2013 we successfully certified our latest version of Paragon RTD, it now includes:
- CMD4 (MIFARE Ultra light disposable ticket types)
- Fully featured carnet ticket support
- Additional functionality within action list and non action list based ticketing
- As well as many other features that help implement Paragon smart ticketing
Where is Paragon RTD being used?
Paragon RTD is deployed in a wide variety of live smart ticketing schemes. The latest schemes to operate a live Paragon RTD service include:
- Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT)
- Payzone (deployed across multiple regions/opertaors)
In addition, many other developments are also underway which will go live by early 2014.
We live in an ‘App’ generation – Rambus Ecebs has developed & deployed complementary apps to support operators and consumers
For added flexibility and convenience, Rambus Ecebs NFC apps include:
- Smart ticket checker
- Smart Ticket inspector
- Smart ticket converter
These offer low cost inspection and paper ticket conversion options, making it easier for transport operators to deploy smart tickets.
Enabling Smart Ticketing – RTD Partner Programme
To deliver convenient and cost effective smart ticketing on a wide scale, it is necessary to enable a wider supplier community that will provide consumers and scheme operators with the best available choice of smart ticketing for their needs. To complement our new Paragon RTD release, Rambus Ecebs has announced its Paragon RTD partner programme. This will enable partners who want to deliver their own smart ticketing solutions using Paragon software as the smart ticketing engine.