Piper powers up NYC Subway Countdown Clocks

Piper Networks’ IoT Solution Powers Next Generation of New York City Subway Countdown Clocks as MTA adopts Piper Networks’ beacon technology to display train arrival information for subway riders.

Piper Networks’ IoT Solution Powers Next Generation of New York City Subway Countdown Clocks as MTA adopts Piper Networks’ beacon technology to display train arrival information for subway riders.

New York City has always looked to the future while being proud of its past. The iconic New York City Subway System is testimony to this. For over 100 years it has been an integral part of most New Yorkers and visitors’ lives due to solid foundations and excellent execution. While the objective and functionality of the transit system remains the same, the arrival of the Internet of Things has brought about opportunities that can make the system more reliable, safer and improve it’s overall operational efficiency.

To make the vision a reality, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York City has started by deploying next generation countdown clocks powered by Piper Networks’ proximity beacon technology. As part of an initiative to bring new LCD digital displays to the lettered platforms and station mezzanines, the program incorporates Piper’s enterprise-level Bluetooth technology in select stations, with the aim of scaling the solution to all 269 lettered-line stations. Piper’s proximity technology also provides MTA and leading underground wireless solution provider, Transit Wireless, with a rugged and reliable platform for detecting the location of subway trains.

These actions are the latest steps toward rebuilding and transforming the MTA into a unified, state-of-the-art transportation network that will meet the needs of current and future generations of New Yorkers. With this new and updated technology, we’ll help ensure riders have the information they need to get where they need to go.

- Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York

These vital investments advance Governor Cuomo’s plan to transform the MTA into an innovative, state-of-the-art system with improved customer service and first-class amenities, and are part of the $27 billion, five-year MTA Capital Program.


The IoT (Internet of Things) solution works by installing four high-performance BLE (Bluetooth Low-Energy) beacon transmitters on the first and last cars of each New York City subway train. As the trains pass through the stations, Piper’s receivers placed within Transit Wireless Wi-Fi access points at either end of the station, pick up the signal and forward the data securely to MTA’s servers. There, the data points are calculated and shared with MTA’s iTrack location software to pinpoint train location and trigger the arrival information displayed on the LCD screens in the stations.



There were many challenges to this project that required innovation and customization:

  • Demanding, extreme environmental conditions.
  • Long life battery requirements.
  • Security and robust cloud infrastructure.
  • Custom form factors to fit with existing locations.

Governor Cuomo challenged the MTA to develop an aggressive approach to putting countdown clocks on the lettered lines, and our technology team’s response has been phenomenal. In very short order they developed an easy to deploy, cost-effective system that we think will play a central role in bringing this essential service to more and more of our customers. We look forward to learning from this test, as well as to developing a roll out plan based on our findings.

- Thomas F. Prendergast, MTA Chairman and CEO

Solutions that Piper delivered:

  • Piper’s highly responsive team and quick POC turn around resulted in a low cost IoT solution.
  • A custom, high performance and secure BLE signal was developed specifically for the system.
  • Piper’s APIs and SDKs were integrated and used to connect applications.
  • Data is mapped according to MTA Applications Team and departments’ requirements.
  • Custom PoE form factors were developed for high performance beacons & real-time BLE sensing receivers.
  • Piper worked closely with partners like Transit Wireless to ensure interoperability.
  • A custom mobile app was created for MTA field team to track and identify trains in real-time.
  • The solution was implemented in a way that it will be easy to scale.

Bluetooth technology is a reliable and cost-effective option for MTA as we look to expand the deployment of the new countdown clocks within B division stations. Piper and Transit Wireless have been exceptional partners in helping us with this pilot program.

- Daniel Harding, Intelligent Transportation Lead for MTA-IT