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VR: Data platform for more efficient information sharing

The Finnish state railroad company VR works to continuously improve its commuter rail services. We helped them improve cooperation and increase customer satisfaction by developing a centralized data platform for efficiently sharing information with all stakeholders.

The challenge

A railroad network is a complex physical and digital system, including vast volumes of constantly changing data related to schedules, infrastructure, maintenance, staff availability and customer feedback. Reliable and shared situational awareness is just as important for passengers and stakeholders as it is for VR’s business units. When we started, data collection, transformation and sharing were fragmented, laborious and prone to human errors that come with manual work. To solve these issues, we co-developed a centralized data platform and system interfaces that help keep people on track.

Outcomes and impact

  • Turning the data flow into better customer experience, collaboration, and business.

  • Accurate and near real-time information enable reliable and predictable operations.

  • Enabling analytics to harness the real value of data and spark new ideas.

What we did

Our work included participation in two areas: system integrations and architecture, and data warehousing and modeling. The system integrations and architecture define how the platform performs, and how it can be further developed. The architectural backbone was built using technologies like AWS and Snowflake. The goal of the data warehousing and modeling development was to create a centralized data storage expanding over multiple source systems, from which the data is collected and modeled for several user needs with the frequencies varying from hours to weeks. To handle the large data masses, ingested from numerous different data sources, reliably, Data Vault 2.0 was chosen as a modeling methodology. The entire development process was run using agile Scrum methods, with our experts working as a part of the VR data team. The solutions were tested with the end users and iterated until all parties were satisfied.

Why it matters

The centralized data platform provides stakeholders, employees, and business representatives with the information they need, when they need it. Shared data helps prevent, predict, and solve problems as well as understand their root causes. All this improves the travel experience, ensuring successful cooperation with VR, and strengthening the interaction between business units. As the data is modeled to clearly describe real operational concepts, technical developers and business representatives can work together more efficiently, understand the real value of data, and generate new ideas. The data platform also enables the use of analytics, and creates the foundation for data-enabled applications, such as situational awareness, machine learning and AI, and saves costs in terms of workflow and task automation.

Our partnership during the project was excellent, smooth and effective. We had brilliant professionals from Futurice as part of our centralized data team as well as in project management, and we got the results we wanted. I can highly recommend Futurice as a partner for building next-level solutions.
Tuomas Savikangas
Head of Digital Development, VR

About VR Group

VR Group is a railroad company wholly owned by the Finnish state. VR is responsible for passenger services, VR Transpoint for logistics and VR FleetCare for maintenance. Train operations take care of locomotives and the management of disruptions, while the property unit takes care of the development and rental of properties. VR’s net sales in 2021 were €838.3 million and it employed 5,600 people. Learn more

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