I couldn’t help but think how appropriate it was. There I was in London — where the world’s first underground railway was built 152 years ago — to meet with leaders in the transport industry to discuss ways to make global public transport faster, simpler, and more efficient with NFC technology.

Japan Air Lines

Today, nearly 1.3 billion passengers ride the London Underground every year in electric cars that are infinitely faster, more comfortable, and less smoky than the original steam-powered “Tube” trains. But there is still progress to be made — throughout the world — to make public transport even more convenient and efficient. A major issue is the lack of standardization among the many specifications in use for public transport ticketing and access around the world.

That’s why I and other NFC Forum representatives were in London, meeting with colleagues from the GSM Association (representing mobile operators), Smart Ticketing Alliance (STA), and CEN/TC278, the organization promoting Intelligent Transport Systems. Also on hand were representatives of VDV, the Germany-based e-ticketing service provider, and Japan Railway East.

The event was a busy one, with presentations on a range of issues, from ISO and NFC Forum specifications, to PTO requirements, to interoperability testing. At the end of the two-day session, we had a clear plan, and together have issued the following statement:

The GSMA, NFC Forum, STA, and CEN TC278 WG3 have initiated an alliance to bring about harmonization of our specifications with regard to NFC technology for the public transport industry. We welcome industry participation in this effort and encourage you to contact one of the primary parties listed above.”

The goal of this alliance will be a global public transport environment in which passengers board with unprecedented speed and ease, fare collection and access are handled with accuracy, and the user experience is uniformly positive from country to country, and transit system to transit system — all through the magic of NFC technology.

We welcome industry participation in this effort and encourage you to contact me, [email protected] to see how your organization can participate. We also encourage you to join the NFC Forum and contribute to our Mobility, Identity and Transport (MIT) Special Interest Group (SIG) .