Wollongong's SMART Infrastructure Facility is helping a major international rail service provider harness information from social media to improve customer service.
SMART researchers are using geo-social intelligence technology to help MTR Hong Kong communicate and share information more efficiently on its nine commuter railway lines, light rail network and high-speed airport express link which carry 5.4 million passengers a day.
When MTR Corporation heard about the groundbreaking work being done at SMART it commissioned it for two years to find out how social media information can be used to benefit everyone.
A team of researchers from SMART is working with Faculty of Business to create a knowledge sharing platform that will capture, organise and act on information harvested from social networks such as Twitter, Weibo, WeChat and Facebook.
The team has already attracted global attention with the innovative Peta Jakarta project that uses information from Twitter to help address flooding in Jakarta during the monsoon season.
SMART Rail Logistics Lab lead researcher and director Andrew McCusker, who heads the Rail Logistics Laboratory, said social media was still largely an untapped source of actionable information.
He said using the GSI system, MTR would be able to detect in real time the reactions or mood of its customers, and staff would be better able to take immediate action, prioritise, review or respond to issues.
Research director Professor Pascal Perez said mobile device GPS co-ordinates meant messages could be tied to a specific location.
SMART's Geo-Social Intelligence Urban Resilience and Liveability unit led by Associate Professor Rodney Clarke is world renowned for its state-of-the-art data harvesting and analytics capabilities using social media platforms.
It is working with Rail Logistics Laboratory experts at SMART who already provide organisational and operational analyses to the rail industry and public transport agencies such as Sydney Trains, as well as advanced simulation solutions to Transport NSW.
SMART chief operating officer Tania Brown said they were presently SMART's major commercial customers but the big international MTR contract proved Wollongong had a world class facility.