The intercom used by customers to request assistance at unattended stations was audio-only and Shonan Monorail needed a solution.
Shonan Monorail opened in March of 1970 and sees more than 10 million passengers annually. The line features a pioneering suspended monorail, which connects Shonan Enoshima, a major tourist destination, to Ofuna in about 14 minutes. As a community-based transportation infrastructure, it improves convenience for residents in the area and expands tourism demand.
The intercom used by customers to request assistance at unattended stations was audio‑only. If the situation had required the station attendant to view a customer, they had to go to a different location where they could see the surveillance camera. This was an inconvenience for both the staff and the customer. To communicate between the Shonan Enoshima station and the ticket office at the Ofuna station, attendants had to leave the ticket booth and use the telephone in the control center, further hindering ticket booth operations.
The intercom used by customers to request assistance at unattended stations was audio-only. If the situation had required the station attendant to view a customer, they had to go to a different location where they could see the surveillance camera. This was an inconvenience for both the staff and the customer.
To communicate between the Shonan Enoshima station and the ticket office at the Ofuna station, attendants had to leave the ticket booth and use the telephone in the control center, further hindering ticket booth operations.
Integration of the IX Series offers audio and video communication, making it easy for employees to verify customers quickly, without leaving their booth.
With the ability to call directly between IX Series video master stations, staff at the Ofuna station can see and speak to fellow employees at the Shonan Enoshima station without leaving their ticket office.
It is essential to have an IP intercom in the railway industry, where remote support is required for customers using unattended stations.
Shonan Monorail is a pioneering suspended monorail that operates two attended stations and six unattended stations. In recent years, it has not only improved customer convenience by introducing a prepaid transportation card, but is actively working on social contributions, such as supporting Breast Cancer Awareness through events and car wrapping. In order to respond to customers using unattended stations, IP video intercoms have been used. Compared to conventional intercoms, IP intercoms are less susceptible to restrictions such as wiring distance, making IP intercoms popular in the railway industry, where unattended stations are increasing.
For Shonan Monorail, which manages all unattended stations at the Ofuna station, the IP video intercom is an indispensable function for supporting customers in a remote location. Before upgrading the IX Series, the only way to check on customers using video, was to check the display of a surveillance camera in a separate place. Station employees suggested upgrading to an IP intercom with video, so that verifying customers and railway surroundings was more convenient.
The IX Series centralized audio and video communications made it more convenient to assist customers and upgraded their current intercom system by using existing equipment.
The IX Series provides an IP video intercom system that allows station employees to verify customers, by displaying the customer’s face and surroundings through the network camera. An IX Series door station with a camera is installed at each unattended station,
and inquiries from customers are handled by the IP video intercom at the Ofuna station. The attendant can talk while checking the video that captures the customer’s situation at hand. If the attendant is away from the ticket office, they can use the call transfer feature to connect customers to a station that has a staff member available.
Since Shonan Monorail had been using IP audio intercoms for a long time, they were able to upgrade to the IX Series while using existing equipment, such as fiber optical cables and PoE switches, reducing the overall installation cost. Each IP intercom station is PoE and can be wired without a separate power supply. In addition, the connected network cameras share the IP network.
With the introduction of IX Series, one station employee said, “It’s easy to understand the customer’s situation and our work has become easier.” Aiphone’s IX Series contributes to improving convenience for both customers and station employees.
Aiphone’s IX Series provides Shonan Monorail attendants clear, remote communication to assist customers. Plus the ability to:
- See anyone who calls with an inquiry.
- Call with two-way video from the Shonan Enoshima station to the Ofuna station.
- Expand the system to virtually any size, while saving on resources.
- Add mobile apps for attendants who need to monitor stations while away.
Mr. Nishino and Mr. Yamabe help lead the transportation department at Shonan Monorail. Their personal insight goes into great depth how the IX Series Peer‑to‑Peer IP Video Intercom added both security AND convenience in day-to-day operations.
A proven track record helps with product selection
There were comments from station employees that they wanted to see and respond to customers visiting unattended stations. We recognized there was a need to upgrade to a system that had audio and video capabilities. Regarding the selection of Aiphone’s IX Series, there were installation records from other railways that had unattended stations, and we felt confident that the product would solve this challenge. Another reason for this selection was that the IX Series was already being used by our group company.
The ticket booth at the Ofuna station is always busy, as it’s handled by one attendant. In addition, inquiries from the six unattended stations need to be handled too. Customers frequently call in from unattended stations, and their requests vary. They range from emergency reports to transportation cards not working properly, making the IX Series a convenient necessity for station employees.
Introduction of video intercoms provide a wider range of support
The IP intercom used previously only offered an audio function, so when we would need to check video surveillance of customers, it would take time away from our other duties. Aiphone’s IX Series offers audio and video using only a master station, making it easy to verify and respond to customers. If customers have forgotten to touch the IC commuter pass at the time of entry, an employee can verify the pass by having the customer show the ID on camera. This makes it simple to check all the detailed information through the camera of the IX Series door station, like which station the pass originated.
The camera offers a clear image that shows the customer’s surroundings and it’s easy to use. Onetouch enlarges the bird’s-eye view of the camera and assists in the operation of the prepaid transportation card machine while monitoring the customer.
Streamlined ticket office operations through extension call feature
Apart from customer service, the “extension call feature” can be used to communicate with the Shonan Enoshima station. The monitoring center next to the ticket office is equipped with extension call equipment, but it’s more convenient to make the extension call with the IX Series master station when employees are busy at the ticket office and unable to leave. When customers come to the ticket office, the call can be disconnected and we can immediately assist the customer, so they won’t have to wait.
We would like to create an environment where our customers feel safe. We would like Aiphone to continue enhancing the functions of the IX Series, like offering a two-way camera that would allow customers to talk and see the station employee at the same time they are communicating.