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New York Waterway is looking to sail its way into the future – the private ferry company which operates in New York and New Jersey is incorporating a smart, Internet of Things connected platform into its ferries in order to improve efficiency and upgrade security. Built by Hitachi Data Systems, this venture will be entirely funded through FEMA port security grants, with little money coming from New York Waterway itself. As the largest privately owned ferry service in the United States, New York Waterway shuttles more than 8 million passengers a year, making this a landmark transportation project.

Each of New York Waterway’s 35 ferries will be fitted with GPS, surveillance cameras providing live feeds that can be viewed remotely, a PA system, wireless radios, display monitors for passengers and sensors that collect data on fuel use, ridership, speed, direction, maintenance concerns and the weather. As with most IoT systems, there’s an app component as well that enables commuters and travelers to purchase tickets, access route maps, look up schedules and even track buses that pick up and drop people off at ferry ports.

Much of what makes this platform interesting happens in the back end of the system. All of the cameras and sensors the ferries are equipped with transmit this data and allow employees and the system itself to interpret and react to any phenomenon. Cameras can automatically be repositioned to track a person of suspicion on a dock. An external feed of information from social media and news outlets can help staff members identify incidents in the city that could affect ferry service. Repairs and maintenance can be scheduled and performed through the system, while fuel consumption can be monitored closely and more effectively.

When it comes to safety, the system can actually utilize sensors that will better prep a vessel to serve as an emergency response vehicle. By being able to track the location of every vehicle, managers can quickly respond to emergencies by deploying the closest ferry and recording the incident with live video streaming. The consolidated data the ferries collect through the IoT system can also be easily shared with other response and law enforcement agencies. Essentially, thanks to the Internet of Things, New York Waterway ferries are about to become a jack-of-all-trades. The boats ferrying passengers are about to end up more smart and connected than the passengers themselves.

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