Co-Aps: to manage passenger density on public transport during the pandemic

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The Data Management Research Group (DAMA-UPC), along with the spin-off Sparsity Technologies, associated with the University, have developed the mobile application Co-Aps, which provides information on passenger density on public transport and helps to manage it, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Towards the end of December, the first pilot test has been launched to test the app in Barcelona and in the cities of Istanbul, Karditsa and Sofia.

Barcelona is participating from this week in the pilot tests of the Co-Aps project to prevent the spread of COVID-19, along with the European cities of Istanbul, Karditsa and Sofia. The Data Management (DAMA) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) is coordinating the project in Barcelona, which is being developed along with Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) and other European participants. The Co-Aps project is funded by EIT Urban Mobility, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) that, since January 2019, has been working to bring about positive changes in the way people move around cities to make them more habitable places.

The Co-Aps platform implements mobile technology to gather data from anonymous users in real time. These data provide information on crowds and the density of public spaces that are managed by the transport operators and the cities’ authorities, so that they can help to manage occupancy and avoid crowds during the pandemic. Using this information, passengers can make informed decisions before and during their journey.

During the pilot phase to test Co-Aps, which will last until the end of the year, users of TMB transport networks can contribute to the fine-tuning of the application by contributing occupancy data in real time on their experience while they travel by bus or metro. The most active people on the app will receive compensation in the form of gifts. The pilot test that has been launched in Barcelona is carried out in various central metro stations (on lines L5 and L4).



The coordinator of the DAMA-UPC group, Josep Lluís Larriba, explained that “with this app, cities and public transport operators could provide a better service for citizens and users, by establishing more information about routes for their mobility. This will help to avoid unnecessary crowds and enable users to take alternative, less busy routes”.

How does Co-Aps work?

Co-Aps is available in Google Play for Android and in Apple Store for iOS. When they enter the app, users are asked to provide real time information on public transport, using various games. For example they can answer questions such as: How many people are there in a specific station? What percentage of passengers are wearing masks?

In addition to contributing to reducing the spread of COVID-19, people who interact with the app can accumulate points that could be exchanged for public transport tickets or discounts on services. To be able to opt for a prize, they must complete at least ten of the challenges that are set when the app is accessed.

Together with the information provided for passengers, in this pilot test, data shall be used such as the weight of carriages, the number of passengers in the stations and the data from numerous sources provided by the TMB, which will use this information to plan the frequency of trains.