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Smart briefings = smart business

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Traditionally, train and freight companies have organised pre-planned, face-to-face operational briefings with their staff, but these are often logistically difficult and costly to arrange. With these challenges in mind, rail industry communications specialist Junction 9 Network has created what it believes is the solution. 

SMARTbrief is a secure app that can be downloaded onto workers’ phones, tablets and computers. The private system hosts video or written briefings and, once it has been updated, alerts and encourages users through push notifications to watch new material when it is practical and convenient to do so.

If required, operations, safety or training teams can set up a series of auto-marked, multiple-choice questions to appear immediately after a briefing to ensure it has been received and understood. 

SMARTbrief has been created in collaboration with Objective Computing thanks to grant funding from Transport for London. 

Case studies

Two of its earliest adopters have been MTR Crossrail and GB Railfreight. Paul Groves, deputy operations director, MTR Elizabeth Line, believes the system will help to improve performance and refresh drivers’ knowledge ahead of the line’s full launch in the next few years. 

He said: “SMARTbrief allows us to broadcast quick and easy to digest refresher learning content to our large team of drivers. We have two training simulators we can use with the refresher briefings supporting and enhancing existing training by focusing on infrequently practiced tasks.

“The production support programme provided by SMARTbrief allows us to create our own video content with not much more than our smartphones. 

“We have been astonished at the quality we can achieve. SMARTbrief gives our drivers easy access to training and reminders, but behind that is a smart system that seems to be getting smarter every day.”

Stuart Anderson, head of safety at GB Railfreight, added: “This tool is transforming the way we deliver and verify our seasonal safety briefings to drivers located all over the UK. It’s not intended to totally replace face-to-face events, but its proving a very solid support to the activity. 

“Another interesting byproduct of SMARTbrief is that we are finding that its becoming a two-way platform for operational feedback from colleagues as well. When we broadcast content we always encourage feedback and we have been really pleased with how much useful feedback we have had from drivers.”

“…the applications are endless and costs savings can be significant…”

Jonathan Hall, founder of Junction 9 Network and SMARTbrief

An evolving product

While the app’s user interface has been designed with simplicity in mind, its core system is built around a highly sophisticated intelligent video and data platform, which utilises the latest developments in augmented and artificial intelligence for video.

Jonathan Hall, founder of Junction 9 Network and SMARTbrief, said: “We are all bombarded with information both from a personal and business perspective and we need to create channels for delivery of important business guidance and information where users can easily identify the importance of the messages being delivered.

“At SMARTbrief, we are utilising much of the intelligent functionality that consumer broadcasters have spent years and fortunes in development. We are now customising suitable aspects of this technology to enable unmatched levels of viewer engagement. 

“There are so many added value byproducts built in to the SMARTbrief technology engine. Just one example is how we extract audio and convert this to text at the encoding stage to create the foundation of a secure, private video search engine for our clients. Given the right inputs, SMARTbrief can answer any ‘how to’ question that a colleague may have. Searches don’t take the users simply to view a video, they take the user to the exact point in the video where the answer to the question lies. 

“Clients are continually finding new ways of using the application. One is even starting to use SMARTbrief for contractor site inductions, the applications are endless and cost savings can be significant.”

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