A relative with learning disabilities was stranded when his train journey was disrupted by power cuts. The station staff did not have the right information to provide the right assistance.
What the app does
- It allows passengers submit requests for assistance for themselves. Train staff can also log the requests on passengers' behalf (e.g. at the station, on the train). If multiple TOCs are involved in the journey, passengers do not need to book assistance one by one with each TOC.
- Staff can assign themselves (or the team) assistance tickets. They are notified when passengers arrive at the station.
- Staff can track the train journey of passengers and adjust the time/equipment/meeting point of assistance accordingly.
How we built it
It's built on a realtime postgres and graphql backend, powered by a tool called postgraphile.
Challenges we ran into
- UK railway systems are highly complex. Trying to handle enough of the edges to build something that demonstrates value in a short space of time (in 24 hours!) was hard.
- Looked into the options of business model, Network Rail would need to be the leader to encourage TOCs to embrace the app.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
- The backend system has enough features to be built upon in the future, including easy ways to stream data into Network Rail and the TOCs systems in real time.
- We identified a few feasible user journeys and ensured the app was built to support them
- The staff dashboard also looks pretty good ;)
What we learned
A lot about building complex relationships in sql to map out how rail staff could operate.
What's next for No Passenger Left Behind
We have lots of assumptions to validate and also need to prove in the real world that this concept could help people before moving forward. Ultimately it would be very exciting to take the project to completion because the scale of the impact improving passenger assistance would be incredible.