PBD was developed in cooperation with ProRail for the purpose of (preventive) management of train control systems using big data. This gives ProRail, among other things, more insight into process control, the application that ensures that all trains run according to the timetable. Process control regularly receives a new release with new functionalities. But how do these functionalities behave in practice? Can the computer system handle the update? As a first step, ProRail wanted to monitor the application and correct irregularities in time, in order to then be able to estimate how the application would behave operationally after a release. After all, if you can anticipate certain problems in advance or rule them out, that saves quite a bit in costs afterwards.
The available data of the systems and applications are collected and analyzed. The main focus is on trend differences and deviations, on anything that is different from normal. For example, the memory usage of a computer. If this increases slowly, it is possible to predict when the computer will crash. Or, for example, changes in the application's behavior, which, after examining this, can reveal that something needs to be adjusted.
Based on its knowledge of the public transport market and the application landscape, InTraffic makes connections between the various data streams. ProRail can make up its own views on all the data. These are easy to click on and read out in a web-based dashboard, giving an increasingly better understanding of how things work in practice.
"Meanwhile, we are linking more and more applications within ProRail to PBD. Now it is still about data at rest, that which has already happened. In the future, InTraffic and ProRail want to add real-time data to this as well, which will make it possible to monitor in the moment as well."
- Ronald van den Oudenhoven, Service Level Manager InTraffic
Big, bigger, biggest
If you want to structurally improve the application management of process control, as in the case of ProRail, you have to involve other components as well. Like the application that controls points and signals, or the application that tracks train numbers. Those all affect process control. Thus, more and more applications are linked to PBD. From what is happening on the tracks to what is going on in the office, from binary blobs to readable ASCII files, all of ProRail's raw files are now collected, processed, analyzed and made accessible via a Web-based dashboard, or delivered back to ProRail as enriched data.
Monitoring with PBD
The longer the system runs, and the more data is collected, the more valuable the database becomes. Meanwhile, we are linking more and more applications within ProRail to PBD. Now it is still about data at rest, that which has already happened. In the future, InTraffic and ProRail want to add real-time data to this as well, making it possible to monitor in the moment as well. In the meantime, ProRail employees will receive workshops to get more out of PBD themselves.
PBD is generically designed and consists of reading data from separate components and applications that can be linked to it. That makes this big data solution also suitable for application within other industries or companies. The output depends on what you put into it. And for that: the sky is the limit.