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As data becomes an important asset in the rail industry, how is it stored effectively
Eifeh Strom, Freelancer 2019/10/23

The digitization of rail vehicles now requires rail operators to deal with the secure collection, storage and transmission of data.Data has become an important asset in the modern rail industry. Digitization and more advanced technologies are creating more railway data, forcing rail operators to find more efficient and secure ways to properly collect, store and transmit it.

The European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) published a technical document on big data in railways. In it, the ERA explores data collection methods, how big data can be used and the overall potential big data has in the railway sector.

What type of data is being collected

Today’s railway companies and operators are storing data that ranges from track database information to route and customer information, all of which is proprietary to the rail operator or to particular customers, said Bob Haag, VP of Sales and Marketing at Crystal Group.
Raphael Binder Syslogic
Raphael Binder,
Head of Product Management, Syslogic 


Raphael Binder, Head of Product Management at Syslogic noted that the type of data being collected also varies depending on the application. “It can be diagnostic and operational data, but also for example the number of passengers or image data of the route,” he said.

Eason Yang, Product Manager at Axiomtek highlighted that his company’s latest box PC for railways will collect a range of data from temperature, humidity, on/off switch, vibration, smoke and alarm through various sensors. The box PC also monitors and alerts the operator/driver to take actions when any irregularities occur.

Data storage and challenges

Data storage when the site is constantly on the move poses different challenges than a stationary center. Binder explained that Syslogic only uses flash memory storage in its industrial computers. This is because compared to hard drives they have the advantage of not being susceptible to shock and vibration.

In terms of how railway data is transmitted, Binder said nowadays data is often transmitted via cellular networks based on LTE technology to a central office or processed directly at the edge. “This is a trend that is gaining traction, especially with the new AI-enabled processor platforms,” he added.

However, data transmission over a network leaves all of this sensitive information and associated operations susceptible to cyberattacks. “The industry needs to accelerate data at rest and data in transit cybersecurity protection practices that enable better security as well as the accessibility needed to transmit that data to traffic control,” Binder said.

Using guides like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Guide to LTE Security (special publication 800-187) to ensure the security of cellular networks is one way to mitigate possible cyberattacks on data. The International Union of Railways (UIC) published IRS 50405 for diagnostic data transmission for rolling stock railway vehicles. The International Railway Solutions (IRS) is a structured framework of documents prepared and published by the UIC for the railway sector.

Haag explained, “Security challenges can be addressed at the hardware level with rugged network switches that have integrated IP security modules in them to further encrypt data moving through an intra-train network. Additionally, multiple encryption layers and ruggedized secure storage network-attached devices can protect sensitive rail and customer data.”
 

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Messe Frankfurt New Era Business Media Ltd. All rights reserved. 2019/11/22 print out