AIS 140 – The growing clamour for a change and a more practical policy
The clock ticks closer to April 1 2018, when state public transport departments are expected to be compliant with AIS 140 standards. The day is not far off when all passenger transport systems will also be expected to conform to the standards laid down by ARAI. The compliance aspect may become inevitable in either its present form or with modifications, going by the growing clamour for a change in the policy. While the benefits of GPS systems in passenger transport are certainly welcome, there are multiple aspects in the policy and its implementation that will be difficult to achieve. While the industry welcomes legislation and compliance, the need of the hour is to ensure that the results and the means are practical and feasible for both end users and stakeholders in industry.
What exactly is AIS 140 and how is it relevant to passenger transport in public or private sector?
Before looking at the answer to the question, it is time to set the context. Buses, trucks and other heavy vehicles together contributed to 27% of the number of accidents on the roads in the year 2015, as per the report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. This means that one out of every four accidents has a bus or other heavy transport involved. AIS 140 (Automotive Industry Standard) is a set of standards laid down by ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India), under the aegis of the Ministry of Industries, Government of India. It specifically refers to the guidelines for installation of vehicle tracking systems, emergency button/systems and camera surveillance systems in vehicles used for passenger transport. The government has mandated that all state public transport services need to have these systems in place by April 01 2018. This is part of the phased manner by which the government plans to bring all private passenger transport vehicles under the standard.
How telematics/GPS systems help in compliance with AIS 140?
Certain requirements of AIS 140, barring the camera surveillance are intrinsic features of a GPS system. By default it offers vehicle tracking information on a real time basis, it can be used to trigger an emergency request, and it can be integrated with applications that make location based announcements, route announcements, occupancy information and ticketing applications. This is more like an open ended system where innovative applications can be included seamlessly by drawing from the telematics solutions. Among the standout benefits that will accrue are the embedded solutions that offer greater road and passenger safety by assisting drivers. One of the best examples of the advanced solutions are the convoy of wirelessly linked driverless trucks that moved across Europe which actually resulted in considerable fuel savings, in addition to smooth passage and safety. It indicates that GPS systems in trucks and the regulatory standards of AIS 140 greatly help in bringing about better fleet management.
Some of the features that fleet managers will be excited to have on passenger transport systems are :
Driving safety – parking, close maneuvering assist
M2M integration – vehicle health monitoring
Smart Ticketing – occupancy information enroute
Voice updates – automated announcements in public transport systems
Emergency Response – Panic button, distress signals, real time location co-ordinates
What ails the proposed roll out of AIS 140 Standards? What needs to change?
While AIS 140 will eventually be a standard, it pays to bring in implementation and standards that are feasible. For instance, the demand for multiple digital inputs and the clauses pertaining to analog inputs are not only vexatious, they will not have any changes on the ground. It will only increase the cost, without having a proportionate change in the results of the standard. Stakeholders in industry have raised valid technical objections to the standard, and it is expected that the ministry will make necessary changes to bring in a standard that is useful, while being user and industry friendly. Passengers and clients who use the services of operators would certainly find it reassuring to know that operators have a system in place that offers greater security at all times, with well oiled contingency plans to mitigate and respond to situations, if and when required.