In France, the fraud rate in public transport is estimated at over 8%, compared with an average of 3.1% in other European capitals*. And this is not really a surprise: for 52% of French people, fraud is acceptable. There are many reasons for this: ticketing breakdowns, prices too high, incomes too low, short journeys, lack of time, no checks...
However, the French are particularly keen on public transport, with ridership increasing over the years, except in exceptional circumstances. The Safety, Security and Fraud Director therefore has his work cut out for him. However, to carry out his missions, i.e. the reception and safety of users, he must have the necessary resources. Focus on the evolution of the profession and the modernisation of its tools.
From a counterfoil book...
Before the advent of digital technology, inspectors had a counterfoil book, which they filled in by hand to notify a fine, in exchange for immediate or deferred payment. These were time-consuming and risky methods (carrying cash or cheques).
In addition to the transport control, it was then necessary to send the documents to the support functions, which were responsible for collecting and consolidating the various data to provide the regulatory authority with evidence of the fraud and the steps taken to curb it. The fines were also entered into the operator's processing software and sent to the offenders, increasing the risk of errors and making it impossible to guarantee the veracity of the information provided by the fraudsters. This data also served as a basis for defining the schedules and inspection routes for the following days.
...to the terminal without transmission..
A few years later, the mobile terminal made its appearance, making it possible to do away with the counterfoil book and facilitating the transfer of information into the transport operator's information system. This terminal can also issue and collect tickets directly and thus improve the payment rate. However, these terminals do not transmit the data directly to the offender or the payment body. There is therefore always a data restitution stage at the end of the day with the operator's support functions, and then payment reminders are sent to the "fraudsters". This avoids the need to re-enter information and allows more efficient data consolidation. The data can be more easily used to forecast agent schedules and itineraries. A considerable time saving!
... e-PV ...
With the evolution of digital technology, ever more compact and high-performance mobile terminals have appeared. With the aim of making the daily life of the controller and the safety, security and fraud manager easier, the software suites now make it possible to eliminate many time-consuming tasks. They concentrate multiple functions:
All this also makes it possible to have access to data in near-real time for reporting, monitoring collections, anticipating schedules and team itineraries...
... to Artificial Intelligence!
It is in this context that Artificial Intelligence takes on its full meaning. Fuelled by very rich and precise data (transaction and fraud history enriched with contextual data such as weather, cultural and sporting events, points of interest), AI solutions quickly define the best routes, peak traffic, stations or schedules that are most conducive to controls.
This provides the controllers with the best possible information to carry out their tasks. The safety, security and fraud manager also saves time in the construction of schedules and itineraries, placing his teams in the best conditions to achieve the objectives set, with fewer and more targeted controls.
From the counterfoil book to Artificial Intelligence, the jobs of Safety, Security and Fraud Director and Controller have been constantly evolving and today's position is changing. They no longer want to be perceived as repressors, but rather as accompanying users, responsible for ensuring their daily safety and the comfort of transport use. This is something to which AI can make a major contribution.
* According to an article in the Tribune "Public transport: the French (still) champions of fraud!"