In the Netherlands, public transport users pay for their journeys using the OV-chipkaart. This requires service points, card readers, and a huge number of data links. Technolution is responsible for the certification of these devices for Translink, the company behind the OV-chipkaart. Suppliers can use its easy self-certification test kit to certify their devices themselves.
Translink operates and maintains the OV-chipkaart system and processes all OV-chipkaart transactions. There are currently nearly 50 million of these each week, and this number is growing. The card is simple for the user, but the underlying system is extremely complex. It is decentralized: every transportation company has its own sales and inspection devices, and its own card readers or gates for checking in and out. These are all linked to a central computer within the company; and Translink’s central system is the overarching structure.
In addition to issuing cards, Translink operates and maintains the rules and specifications of the system. In technical terms: Translink is the scheme provider. The OV-chipkaart scheme contains many different devices produced by different suppliers. Technolution is responsible for the certification tests for all these devices. Certification is important, because the user experience has to be identical for all OV-chipkaart users, irrespective of the supplier of the device. And if you check in in Rotterdam using a device supplied by company X, you will want to be charged the correct price when you check out in Groningen using a device supplied by company Y.
Self-certification within one week
We have automated the testing procedure for certification and suppliers can now largely carry out these tests themselves. When a supplier develops or adapts a device, we will provide a test kit that is fully tailored to the functionality of the device in question. The supplier can perform the test cases very quickly. The test report is generated automatically. We then analyze it and forward the results to Translink. This procedure means that a device can be certified within a week, a lot quicker than the three months that certification can take in comparable schemes. No wonder there is international interest in our self-certification procedure.
The procedure is quick, simple, and predictable, and it facilitates rather than hinders suppliers who want to develop new or improved devices. In fact, suppliers can simply include certification in their planning of the development of new devices, thus saving a lot of time and money.
Always up to date
Translink issues updated specifications seven times a year. We have developed a virtual reference device that always has the latest specifications. This means we can produce fully up-to-date test kits whenever there is a new update, allowing suppliers to verify themselves at any moment whether their devices are still compliant with current specifications.
- Paul Meerman
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