Cognitive Revolution in Tolling Industry

Tolling Plaza

A new kind of industrial revolution is upon us, as digital technologies redefine business strategy and operational execution. Tolling operators are under a pressure to innovate and make smart investments in game-changers like the Internet of Things (IoT), mobility, cloud computing and cognitive computing. Many toll operators has been embracing a transformation agenda – redefining core processes using new technologies and creating new business model to attract more customers – other are lagging behind. Most of all, the cognitive systems like IBM Watson can give a toll operators an ability to transform waste amount of complex and ambiguous information. Under  the “Watson bonnet” there are three specific technologies which makes it possible:

  • The first one is a machine learning, which carries a great importance in the field of computing science. It is underpinning any artificial intelligence. It allows computers to learn without humans to program them. Because of this capability, Watson can separate a signal from noise. It can learn how complex tolling systems operate.
  • The second is a computer vision, which enables computer systems to gain the understanding of digital images and videos. This capability can be used to automate tasks that human visual system can do.
  • The third technology is a natural language processing, which  gives us a clever way to interact with computer systems. It is a fundamental shift in the way how computers receive data and share information.

Taking these technologies and infusing them into computer solutions improve many operation aspects of tolling business. First of all, it can increase the customer acceptance. Then it brings more agility in meeting new requirements and last not least, it helps to manage operational risks. Here are few examples of cognitive technology in a tolling operation.

Call Center

The call center solution using IBM Watson technology enhances customer services and improves customer satisfaction through faster, more accurate responses. This solution provide an omni-channel customer interaction, so customers can quickly get answers. This can be achieved  by an computer system without customers waiting to talk to a customer care representative. In addition, applying cognitive technology on call center also leads to increased profit and revenue by reducing the operating costs associated with hiring short-term call center operators during peak periods. The solution enable the tolling operation to identify the root causes and timing of customer feedback.  Such insights can help to respond with enhanced services and other countermeasures to improve overall customer service.

Enhanced 360-degree View on Customer

IBM Watson technology can enhance the 360-degree view of the customer in a holistic approach. It takes into account all available and meaningful information about the customer (road trips, payments, correspondence, call center calls) to drive better engagement, more revenue and long-term loyalty.

Social Sentiment Analytics

Understanding of customers’ sentiment is mandatory in order to improve customer experience in a tolling operation. There has been an explosion of data in all forms from blogs, online forums, Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels. Consequently this has given consumers a virtual soapbox of unprecedented reach and influence for publicly sharing their thoughts on tolling products and services. The social sentiment analysis enable toll operators to tap into this social media buzz. By applying analytics and natural language processing technologies, toll operators gain a better understanding of consumer preferences and expectations.


IBM Watson technology is capable to analyze security trends and distill enormous volumes of structured and unstructured data in the transportation ecosystem. Then it can turn this information into actionable knowledge to enable continuous security and business improvement of tolling operation. Such solution leads to automated, data-driven security technologies, techniques and processes and achieving the highest level of context and accuracy and this is even more important for tolling systems which rely on Internet of Things devices like On-Board Units and distributed enforcement equipment.


The cognitive technology has been used in the enforcement for a long time.  The enforcement operation relies on cognitive solutions to optimise the automatic image recognition. This enabled Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANLP) to  achieving a high level of accuracy with a low error rate. Further, cognitive technology has also a capability to improve analytics servicesAnomaly Detection related to enforcement solution and make the anomaly detection more efficient. In a tolling operation, there are many ways how the fraudulent behavior could be demonstrated. Often external data sources need to be considered as well which results in vast amount of structured and unstructured data to be processed.  This is why the machine learning and computer vision technologies can add lots of value to the enforcement part of tolling operation.

These examples are reinforcing the enormous potential of cognitive computing to transform tolling industry. To explore future opportunities and determine how cognitive computing is already being utilized in various industries, the IBM Institute for Business Value conducted follow up research to its initial Your cognitive future research study. I encourage you to get familiar with it and join me in  the discussion: Leave me a comment, hook up with me on twitter (@miroholecy) or on LinkedIn (

CTO - Transportation and National Infrastructure

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