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Company Overview

About Piper

  • Piper Networks is an innovative IT solutions provider and systems integrator with transportation industry expertise. The company was founded in 2011 and is based in San Diego, CA with offices in New York City.
  • Piper Networks helps transit operators enhance signaling systems. We provide ultra-precise, real-time positioning information for trains, buses, and equipment.
  • Piper’s Ultra Wideband (UWB) positioning technology is designed to operate in some of the most challenging environments, like subway tunnels and exposed elevated tracks, while maintaining the highest possible accuracy available.
  • Piper Networks also offers solutions that improve worker safety, enhance wireless wayside communications, and rider access to information. These solutions include real-time train positioning, advanced worker safety systems, and reliable data communications.
  • Piper’s experience with on-board systems integration and thorough understanding of UWB and other technologies has led to successful deployments for major transit authorities.

About Ultra Wideband (UWB)

  • Piper’s Ultra Wideband positioning technology, built specially for the transit industry, can significantly decrease the installation time associated with Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) systems and improve the performance of both CBTC and Positive Train Control systems that are fundamental to operational safety.
  • Piper’s technology also helps operators increase rider throughput and improve headways by allowing trains to run closer together and more frequently.
  • Piper’s UWB positioning system is like a blanket of coverage over the subway lines. The company virtually surround the tracks with smart sensors that pinpoint train location down to a few inches.
  • Ultra Wideband is an engineering standard that’s recognized by engineering and governmental regulatory groups for radio frequencies. The “ultra” means that it’s wider than the frequencies used in other communications protocols such as WiFi. One of the benefits of large bandwidth is that precise distances can be determined between two radios operating in these frequencies. And this precision is the foundation of the systems we deploy for NYCT.

New York City Transit (NYCT) Project

  • Piper is currently engaged in an ongoing project to assist the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and New York City Transit (NYCT) with collecting real-time subway train location data.
  • Piper is currently piloting the technology in the 7 line and expects to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2020, following the safety certification process.
  • Piper’s UWB positioning system is like a blanket of coverage over the subway lines. The company virtually surround the tracks with smart sensors that pinpoint train location down to a few inches.
  • This precision helps Piper accelerate the new signaling upgrades by feeding critical data into the CBTC systems so that trains can run closer together. It also helps companies improve track worker safety and monitor the health of wayside equipment.
  • The result is improved headways that accommodate more riders.
  • This is an exciting time for the transit industry in New York as it seeks continued innovation and technology to help solve its most pressing challenges.
  • Piper’s focus is to help New Yorkers get to work on time and home again safely, every day. To do so, we believe we need smart deployments that minimize inconvenience for riders and increase their confidence in mass transit.
  • Piper has worked with the MTA in previous projects, including the deployment of countdown clocks in B-Division (lettered trains) stations. For this ongoing project, Piper aggregates a stream of real-time location data to help locate trains, predict arrivals, and power the countdown clocks that have become part of the critical public information riders depend on every day.

Leadership Team

CEO/Founder, Robert Hanczor

Robert Hanczor, PhD, is the founder and CEO of Piper Networks. As a 30-year software engineering veteran and entrepreneurial innovator, Robert has created mission critical systems for a variety of industries including transportation, automotive, and industrial. Piper Networks is currently focused on developing positioning technologies for rail operators. Their goal is to accelerate deployments that help modernize signaling and integrate with train control systems. Robert is currently leading several initiatives for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New York City Transit (NYCT) that introduce Ultra Wideband technology as a vital positioning solution for subways. A native New Yorker, now residing in San Diego, Robert leads an experienced and dedicated team working on a UWB pilot program on the 7 Line. The project seeks to collect data necessary for the MTA to certify the technology as part of its effort to improve signaling and build a smarter system that serves the needs of more riders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is UWB part of the solution for New York City’s transit woes?

The transit demands on New York City are unique and more challenging than other cities. Considering the amount of daily traffic, the aging signaling equipment infrastructure, and the absolute breadth of the system, it’s critical that NYCT explore the advantages of technologies that can help take giant leaps forward. UWB in uniquely positioned to grease the wheels for full CBTC implementation.

Is UWB a replacement for CBTC technology and, overall, what is it?

No, Ultra Wideband technology is not a replacement or an alternative to CBTC. UWB is an enhancement for CBTC systems that rapidly advances installation time and reduces operator cost, while ensuring resilience even in the most severe of conditions.

Piper’s Ultra Wideband positioning system is like a blanket of coverage over the subway lines. Piper virtually surrounds the tracks with smart sensors that pinpoint train location down to a few inches. This precision helps us accelerate the new signaling upgrades by feeding critical data into the CBTC systems so that trains can run closer together.

What is the importance of achieving safety certification?

CBTC is a train control engineering standard that is followed by the entire industry. Before a CBTC system can be put into revenue service it must meet exceptionally stringent requirements and be approved by an independent safety assessor to ensure that it will operate by design and without failure. This process is called safety certification.

The Piper team is committed to meeting and exceeding these standards because we understand the complexity of what we are being entrusted with. This is why we are in the process of pursuing safety certification that’s specific to our positioning technology.

Testing is a critical part of every certification and Piper is actively tracking the data we’re gathering from our installation on the 7 Line. We call this stage of the process “shadow mode” in which train times are monitored and measured with the goal of accumulating thousands of hours of data related to UWB performance. Testing will continue through January.

Although they may sound similar, safety certification is different than maintaining overall safe conditions in the subway – a job that the MTA takes very seriously with comprehensive procedures learned over decades of experience.

What lessons did the Piper team learn from the company’s project with the MTA’s 7 Line?

We learned that collaboration is key to solving New York City’s most complex transit challenges. When big systems integrators and smaller tech suppliers get together, good things can happen.

Companies like Piper excel at rapid manufacturing and adapting to changing requirements. When you team Piper up with train control suppliers that have the technical, logistical, and safety experience working on large projects, it’s a perfect match. We call this the “One Team” approach. Working with our CBTC partner, Thales, as well as the signaling engineering, car equipment, and installation personnel at NYCT we’ve met a rigorous schedule of delivering a UWB powered CBTC system in a matter of months, not years.

What is the estimated time frame from concept to deployment across the MTA subway network?

When you do business with the MTA, your real customers are the riders hopping on and off subways and buses as they go about their day. Whenever we install new systems, we must remember that New Yorkers are also making an investment in time that goes way beyond the price of a MetroCard swipe. That’s why we need more than smart technology. We need smart deployments that minimize inconvenience for riders and increase their confidence in mass transit.

In our design meetings with NYCT engineers, we’re constantly looking for ways to reduce our footprint and the need for track time that interrupts service. In Piper’s current project on the 7 Line with our partner Thales, we’re setting new expectations for speed of installation. We’re focusing on finishing the job and putting trains back into service.

Is this technology safe from hacks?

Cyber security is a critical concern for any transportation information systems. We employ the latest industry practices and standards in combination with our proprietary protocols to provide additional levels of security for signals in these sensitive environments.

How will Piper’s technology fare in the case of severe conditions?

Piper’s technology is designed with resilience as a top priority. Blistering heat, bitter cold, wind, ice, vibration, and dust are all part of everyday life in the subways that we must be prepared for. We follow the most stringent requirements for rail certified equipment to ensure that Piper’s systems can withstand the most severe conditions without skipping a beat to ensure that trains and rider keep moving.

What are your thoughts on the governor’s announcement about increasing train speed?

The governor’s decision to reevaluate the speed limits was a smart way to jumpstart service improvements. We respect and share the governor’s ambition to get the trains moving faster so New Yorkers can get to their destination faster. Piper’s UWB technology will further enable trains to operate safely in closer proximity – allowing more trains to run within a designated hour. The more trains on the tracks, the faster riders get to their destination.

Will UWB technology impact the WiFi experience in a positive or negative way for users – or in any capacity?

New York City Transit is continually improving WiFi coverage for riders. Because Ultra Wideband technology is used exclusively for positioning and data communications, it will not affect consumer WiFi service on the MTA’s subways in any capacity.

I’ve seen television commercials from cell phone carriers talking about Ultra Wideband. Is that the same thing?

No, the cell phone carriers are using the term Ultra Wideband as a marketing label to describe their expanding service coverage.

When Piper uses the term Ultra Wideband, we’re referring to an engineering standard that’s recognized by engineering and governmental regulatory groups for radio frequencies. The “ultra” means that it’s wider than the frequencies used in other communications protocols such as WiFi. One of the benefits of large bandwidth is that precise distances can be determined between two radios operating in these frequencies. And this precision is the foundation of the systems we deploy for NYCT.

How is Piper anticipating the reaction from local labor leaders due to the installation of new technologies?

In our “One Team” approach to UWB design and deployment, Piper works closely with NYCT personnel at every level in the organization. And we are committed to working with all local labor organizations to ensure that the implementation of our technology is installed with the highest of safety standards. In fact, every member of Piper’s UWB team is Track Safety certified. We work shoulder-to-shoulder with the experienced car equipment and construction teams – on the tracks and in the tunnels – and we have a deep respect for the role that they fulfill 24/7 to keep the subways running smoothly. They believe in new technology, especially when it improves operational efficiency.

But the most critical lesson they have taught us is the importance of considering safety in every decision we make – from the white board to wayside installation.

For this reason we are actively exploring ways that UWB can improve the real-time safety communications between control systems, trackside workers and train operators. Among these new initiatives are wearable devices that can trigger alerts in the event of unexpected hazards, or to help locate workers in the event they are lost or incapacitated.

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Brand Guidelines & Logos

Brand Guidelines

The purpose of these guidelines is to explain the use of our brand style and to reinforce
consistent application of the visual elements in all communications. This includes
publications, presentations, and all other marketing materials both online and offline.
Guidelines on the use of the logo are included.

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