Last year, SNCF (French National Railway Company) enabled its customers to explore, on its OpenDataSoft portal, the recent items found on trains and at stations. Although the experiment was a success, the company was faced with the difficult challenge of updating a dataset that would eventually evolve over time.
A challenge for SNCF: quickly and easily leverage the real-time data contained within Salesforce
SNCF agents continuously enter information into a Salesforce application in order to gather accurate details about lost items (location, time and date, item category, claimant details, lost item case management, etc.).
At the same time, customers who have lost some of their belongings at a station or on a train can submit an online report via www.objets-trouves-sncf.com. Each month, up to 5,000 lost claims are registered on the website and automatically collected in Salesforce. The application then determines the match between found items and possible lost claims, and returns the matching result to the agents so that they can confirm it.
Information sent to Gares & Connexions via the online form is instantly uploaded into the Salesforce application.
This application is therefore of great value as it holds a large amount of very helpful data. But how to exploit and make this wealth of information more accessible, taking into account that SNCF end users are not necessarily familiar with the Salesforce system?
One simple solution to tackle this issue: using SNCF’s OpenDataSoft platform to leverage real-time data from Salesforce and rapidly release API standards.
Simple data governance and platform scalability
OpenDataSoft’s teams then plugged into SNCF’s Salesforce application to fetch the proper data and publish them in real-time. Filtering the fields was a major challenge since the platform had to provide only relevant and non-confidential information. Let’s consider, for instance, travellers contact details and particulars about staff members who retrieved lost property. These are essential elements to follow up on found luggage and other devices but they absolutely cannot be shared with the rest of the world.
Thus, the OpenDataSoft connector ensures that the environment of sensitive data remains perfectly isolated from the environment of shareable data. It has also been designed to address the scalability needs of the SNCF Open Data platform. In concrete terms, the connector taps into Salesforce’s API to pull data from a given date and return all the records which have been updated since that specific point in time. The growth in data volume can be handled without any difficulty.
Exploring and visualizing instantly updated data
SNCF Open Data portal now offers the opportunity to explore, in real-time, all the items found on its trains and at its stations from 24 may 2013 to infinity (well, as long as customers will keep losing things when travelling).
Tabular visualization allows you to quickly identify the different types of lost items as well as the precise moment and location they were found. You can filter the data by category and even use the full-text search box to only display, for example, the mobile phones found at Paris Montparnasse train station. You can try many possible combinations here (simply add one or multiple filter words in the text box on the left).
By the way, this dataset is reused in a great dashboard SNCF has recently put together. This real-time tool has been designed to help the company watch attentively the state of its activities and services.
— Anthony Babkine (@AnthonyBabkine) 7 Juillet 2015
The real-time SNCF dashboard uses data published on data.sncf.com to display the top 10 items which have been found at stations for the last 24 hours.
Plus, visualizations offered by OpenDataSoft are very helpful when it comes to creating analytic graphs that may highlight the predominance of certain categories of lost items. From these visualizations, SNCF will be able to draw the appropriate conclusions and do what is necessary to improve the performance of its services to customers.
Thanks to the Open Data portal, data formerly contained within the sole Salesforce system are now available to download in universal formats (CSV or Excel). An API is also generated from this constantly updated dataset.
And of course, the connector deployed by our team can seamlessly query any dataset originating from any Salesforce environment. With such a flexible OpenDataSoft technology, SNCF avoids spending too much time in internal development processes. It is a good way to enhance the quality of passenger information and give more meaning to time, which is a capital resource for the rail transport giant.