A new paper from University of Birmingham researchers has suggested a system using blockchain could make transport ticketing “smart”. 

The System for Ticketing Ubiquity within Blockchains (STUB) would allow for interconnected ticketing across transport modes, the UK academics said. 

Along with ontology (the formal representation of knowledge within a domain and the relationships between those concepts, used to model and manage complex information systems) the paper explains how blockchain could create “a robust, transparent, and interconnected data framework that ensures consistent and reliable shared knowledge.” 

The blockchain data ledger would allow service providers to sell and validate tickets as “tokens” on the secure network, meaning passengers could avoid complicated and unconnected ticketing systems and pay via a single portal. 

“The integration of ontology allows providers to capture and share contextual information about the transport network, enabling providers to offer comprehensive data about routes, schedules, and availability, thereby streamlining the ticketing process,” according to Joe Preese and colleagues. 

“STUB’s approach is not to be a single central data platform with transport policy baked-in, but instead to be a policy-agnostic approach that empowers existing ticket providers and technologies to share core ticketing data and to build new solutions on top of,” the lead author added. 

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But that building process would not be quick or easy. 

“A big challenge to implementation will be the integration with existing ticketing infrastructure to work alongside the current standardised approaches whilst we scale up the technology. Setting up a successful pilot will be key to breaking down these barriers,” Preese said.