Blog Updates

Check out the latest updates from EnGraph Software

ParaPlan Desktop improvements to autoschedule

24 March

We added several new features to ParaPlan Desktop this week that make auto-scheduling a large batch of trips more powerful, more accurate and more flexible.

Set MPH for different road types

Based on the length of the trip, we are able to make certain assertions about what types of roads the driver is on between their origin and destination and apply smarter time calculations.

We have five new settings that give our clients a high level of control over their travel time estimations.

-MPH on minor city roads. The default is 17 MPH.
-MPH on major city roads. The default is 30 MPH.
-MPH on highways and limited access roads. The default is 55 MPH.
-Average distance spent on minor city roads. The default is .3 miles, or about four blocks.
-Average distance spent on major city roads. The default is 2 miles. 

Mphs

For example, a typical trip in an urban environment that is ten miles in length is going to start at the client’s house. It will be about four blocks on minor neighborhood roads before reaching a major city street. Once the driver is out of the neighborhood, it will take about two miles to get to the closest limited access highway or interstate. The driver will spend 5.4 miles on the speedier road type before getting off on an exit, driving two miles on a major city road and then another 4 blocks on minor streets to take the client to their destination. 

Different agencies have different geographic footprints, and having the ability to fine-tune all these settings means an agency can expect extremely accurate time estimations. For example, because smaller towns lack major roads, a mostly rural agency will set minor road distance to a larger value and set major city roads to a smaller value. A client in a city with well laid out limited access roads like Minneapolis might set the major road distance to .75 or 1 since the driver will be able to spend the majority of a trip on a highway.

Fine-tuned time windows

ParaPlan uses the concept of Time Windows to help our auto-schedule algorithm determine if a trip can be performed on a route. For example, if Betty has a 10:00 AM appointment and it takes her 5 minutes to get off the bus (dwell time), the latest we can drop Betty off is 9:55 AM. To extend that example, if it is a 30 minute trip, then the latest we can pick her up is 9:20 AM (5 min boarding, 30 min travel, 5 min alighting) for the 10:00 AM appointment. It is obviously not very efficient to pick up Betty and drop her off exactly on time, so we have different variables like Riding Constant and Deviation Time to allow a rider to be on the bus a little bit longer in order to accomplish ride sharing. These variables then create the Time Windows. 

So back to our 10:00 AM appointment. To extend this example a little further, let’s say we have a 15 minute Deviation Time. We can deviate from the scheduled Pick Up or Drop Off time by that 15 minutes. A client can be picked up a little early so the vehicle can do other work with the client on the bus. So our Pick Up Time Windows would be 9:05 AM – 9:20 AM and the Drop Off Time Windows would be 9:40 AM – 9:55 AM. This gives the bus more flexibility to perform other PU or DO stops as they have a window to hit rather than an exact time.

These variables help, but they don’t allow for late drop offs or prevent too-early pick ups, which are common requests. So we added four new variables to help give further control over Time Windows.

-Amount can be late for Pick Up requests and still be considered on time.
-Amount can be early for Pick Up requests.
-Amount can be late for Drop Off requests (Appointments) and still be considered on time.
-Amount can be early for Drop Off requests (Appointments).

If we were to take Betty’s appointment and apply a 5 minute “Can be late for DO” and a 15 minute “Can be early for DO”.  Her Drop Off Time Windows would be 9:40 AM – 10:00 AM. The astute reader will point out that a 10:00 AM drop off isn’t 5 minutes late at all and we would be getting her there right on time. They would be mostly correct, except that it takes Betty 5 minutes to get off the bus, so if we get to the front door at 10:00 AM, it still takes her 5 minutes to get off the bus and into the facility, which would make her Drop Off time 10:05 AM.

Another example would be Ann’s pick-up request of 3:00 PM. We will also assume she has a 5 minute dwell time. If we have a 60 minute PU early time and 15 minute PU late time, the bus could arrive at any time between 1:55 PM and 3:10 PM and still be considered valid.

Max riding time

Extending Time Windows to allow for maximum ride sharing is great, but it is equally important to control the amount of time a specific client can be on a bus. We have a new setting that allows users to set the maximum minutes that a client will be on a bus. Obviously, we can’t apply time changes to trips that are actually longer than the maximum ride time, so if we encounter a riding time greater than allowed by an agency, we will leave it unscheduled and require a dispatcher to manually assign that ride to a bus.

 

Update to ParaPlan iOS 1.4.5

23 March

We just updated our iOS version of ParaPlan to version 1.4.5. 

View trips for future dates:

Manifestdate

This allows drivers to view their scheduled trips for tomorrow (or any day for that matter). On the iPhone, touch settings, then touch on Manifest date change the manifest date. Drivers can also long-press on the date to toggle between Today and Tomorrow. On the iPad, there is a Change Date on the front screen. Touch that to select from a drop down calendar.

When viewing a date other than today, drivers cannot perform actions on any trips. The date is also displayed is the navigation bar. Drivers can leave the app and it will remember which date was selected for up to three hours. After three hours of not using the app, the date will reset to today.

See City and State of a stop by long pressing the stop:

Citystate

To quickly see the city and state of a stop, long press the stop and the popup action menu will display the city and state.

Support for Dynamic Type:

Dynamic Type is a new accessibility feature released with iOS 7 that allows text to be displayed in a larger font to make for easier reading. Go to Settings.app to select the desired font size. Switch back to ParaPlan and all text will be displayed in the new font.

Visual indication of wheelchair clients:

Wc

Clients that have a wheelchair or clients that require a wheelchair equipped van now have their names displayed in red. This makes it simple for drivers to take a quick glance at their eManifest to know what to expect when pulling up to a pick up location.

Route confirmation screen:

Summary

After logging in, the driver is greeted with a summary of their work date. It tells them the route (or routes) they are assigned to, the vehicle (or vehicles) that they will be driving, the first pick up time and the last drop off time and the number of stops they need to perform. The summary will countdown and automatically dismiss after 10 seconds. The driver can also click “View eManifest” to dismiss the summary. To stop the countdown, the driver can touch anywhere on the summary to stop the countdown timer. This is handy if the driver sees something in the summary that doesn’t look right.

Other Improvements:

When scrolling down on the stop list, the status bar and navigation bar are hidden to show more stops at a single time. Scroll all the way to the top to see the status and navigation bar.

The login screen has been improved. It is cleaner and faster.

Long client comments show up better and do not shrink so small that a magnifying glass is required.

When looking at routes, the vehicle number is displayed in parentheses – Blue AM (54)

We fixed a bug that caused permissions to not to take immediate impact. No more killing the app so the correct buttons are displayed. We are still not sure why people found that to be so annoying.

Welcoming our newest ParaPlan agencies

26 February

We have been very busy this winter as ParaPlan Mobile has proven to be a fantastic asset for managing rides within demand-response operations.

City of Columbia Transit going live with ParaPlan

Columbia Transit going live with ParaPlan

 

Here is a listing of our new ParaPlan clients over the past 6 months…

As we continue to expand due to our strategic partnership with REI, look to this page for more detailed customer spotlight articles about our new customers. Our new strategic alliance with REI was also featured in Mass Transit Magazine. (article)

EnGraph announces partnership with REI

30 January

Rei

EnGraphMaster

 

EnGraph is pleased to announce a partnership with REI, a leader in the transportation industry for over 75 years. This partnership will allow us to incorporate their wide range of transportation products into our software solutions.

What is going to change?

Current users of ParaPlan Desktop or ParaPlan for iOS will start to see additional functionality as we add support for REI products. For example, our Client screen has a new video option as we begin the integration with REI’s on-board video recording devices.

Will I have to use a new version of ParaPlan?

ParaPlan Desktop and ParaPlan for iOS will continue to perform and look as they always have. As we add new features, they will contain the same powerful simplicity that is so important to us.

I saw Kyle at a trade show and he had an REI badge. Does he still work at EnGraph?

Kyle is still an owner and partner at EnGraph. Since REI has such a tremendous reputation in the industry, EnGraph is now able to have access to a much larger customer base. EnGraph completes the mobility offering of REI software and Kyle will occasionally represent REI to reach the potential clients where mobility is just a portion of an agency’s need.

So no changes at EnGraph?

No changes. Kyle and Tim are still owners and partners. Brett is still project manager and is coming up on three years with us. There will not be any employee nor assignment changes due to this partnership.

I’m excited. I spend too much time switching between software applications to manage my transit agency.

We are excited too! And we hear you regarding multiple applications. As computers become more useful in our industry, half of the battle can be figuring out your workflow and making sure you have all your needs met. One small missing piece means additional software to pay for, learn and maintain. Or worse yet, another Excel sheet to populate. REI and EnGraph are committed to making your life easier and look to solve these problems with tight integrations and smarter interfaces.

The full press release is below and can be downloaded here:

PRESS RELEASE


For Immediate Release

Lenexa, Kansas, January 29, 2014 – Tim Hibbard, CEO of EnGraph Software, announces the formation of a partnership between EnGraph and Radio Engineering Industries Inc. (REI) to provide a complete suite of intelligent transportation and mobile asset management solutions; including Fixed Route CAD/AVL, Automatic Passenger Counting (APC), Paratransit Scheduling and Billing software, Mobile Data Terminals (MDT), electronic manifests, traveler information websites, Passenger Information and Display Systems (PIDS), mobile video surveillance, vehicle monitoring and diagnostics, and more, to the transit industry.


Radio Engineering Industries (REI) provides a variety of safety solutions: mobile video surveillance, GPS/AVL tracking solutions, camera observation systems and audio/video equipment.  REI prides itself on designing, manufacturing, and servicing customer friendly electronic products for the school, transit, motor coach, shuttle and agriculture industries.  Founded in 1938, REI continues its history of service, quality and value every day.  EnGraph Software, founded in 1999, is a software development firm specializing in paratransit scheduling, reporting, billing and digital dispatching systems throughout the United States.


Darwin Rubeck, REI Vice President of Software and Business Services, called the partnership with EnGraph Software “a terrific opportunity to complete our intelligent transportation systems offering and to bring Paratransit expertise to our team.”  Tim Hibbard, EnGraph CEO, is “thrilled to join forces with a nearby midwestern technology company like REI and I know that our proven ParaPlan® demand-response management system is a perfect fit into REI’s A.R.M.O.R.® ITS software applications and component hardware” and further “this is a great step forward for both REI and EnGraph.”


For more information please contact Kyle Archer, Director of Sales, at 913-735-6651.

Improvements to create Invoice workflow

22 January

ParaPlan has a fully functional billing system. We can create invoices either for a client or for a single funding source with multiple clients. We also handle payments, pre-payments, over-payments and under-payments. Today our interface for creating invoices got a little bit easier to use.

InvoiceScreen

 

#1 – Window starts at the top

This window grows vertically as invoices get populated. We watched our users move the window to the top of the screen time and time again to see all the information on the screen. Now, the window starts at the top of the user’s display.

#2 – Smarter billable trips finder

The panel now displays the client name or program name for this invoice. The expander is also auto-expanded after the client or program is selected.

#3 – Sortable headers

The labels are now clickable and will sort the list accordingly. Click once to sort ascending. Click again to sort in descending order. The label turns bold when it is being sorted. Green means sorting ascending. Red means the list is being sorted in descending order.

These changes are currently going through internal testing. It will be released in the next update.

Display Program Billed amount in ParaPlan iOS

07 January

ParaPlan for iOS has a trip detail screen that shows extra information about a trip when the driver clicks a stop on their eManifest. A key piece of information is how much the rider needs to pay to get on the bus. Sometimes, the driver needs to know how much the program will be billed for this trip. Now that is possible.

In ParaPlan Desktop, click All Elements, then Admin to load system preferences. Check the box labeled “Display Program Billed and Co-Pay on eManifest.”

IOSProgramBilled 3

 

Now, when the drivers look at the detail screen, the will see the amount the rider needs to pay to get on the bus, and in parentheses, the amount that the program will be billed.

IPhoneProgramBilled

How to add a user for ParaPlan for iOS

14 October

ParaPlan Mobile for iOS is our complimentary mobile app for iPhones and iPads. Drivers log onto the mobile device and their trips are automatically downloaded. As they perform their trips, the timestamps and odometers are automatically uploaded to dispatch computers running ParaPlan Desktop.

Now with 3rd party access, funding source stakeholders and clients can view GPS locations of the vehicles performing their trips on their personal iPhones or iPads.

Here is how ParaPlan users are granted iOS permission.

  1. In ParaPlan, click All Elements > Users > New User.
  2. Fill out the name and username, then grant ParaPlan desktop permissions.
     Screen Shot 2013 10 14 at 8 31 42 AM
  3. Create password
    1. Leave existing password blank
    2. Enter new password twice
    3. Click Change password
      Screen Shot 2013 10 14 at 8 33 41 AM 
       
  4. Click Apply Changes (ParaPlan username should now be populated in title bar and Save button should be disabled)
     Screen Shot 2013 10 14 at 8 34 21 AM
  5. Expand Convert for iOS
    • To Add driver:
      1. Click Collect GPS if GPS data should be collected.
      2. Click Can view GPS tab if they can see other driver’s location.
      3. Enter REST endpoint provided by EnGraph.
      4. Select Driver name from drop down list.
      5. Click Can Schedule Trips if they can change a trips assigned route (including trips assigned to other drivers).
      6. Click Can Call clients if they can have easy access to directly contacting clients.
      7. Click Create Global account.
         Screen Shot 2013 10 14 at 8 40 46 AM
    • To add 3rd party program administrator
      1. Click Collect GPS if GPS data should be collected (usually not).
      2. Click Can view GPS tab if they can see driver’s locations (only for the programs they are allowed to see).
      3. Enter REST endpoint provided by EnGraph.
      4. Check all the programs they can see trip and GPS details for.
      5. Check can request trips if they can directly request a trip (coming soon).
      6. Check can view Client details if they can also see additional information about a client including their future trips (only for the programs they are allowed to see).
      7. Click Create Global Account.
         Screen Shot 2013 10 14 at 9 05 16 AM
    • To add 3rd party Client access
      1. Check Collect GPS if GPS data should be collected (usually not).
      2. Check Can view GPS tab if they can see the vehicle that is coming to perform their trip.
      3. Select the client’s name from the drop down list.
      4. Check Can request trips if they can directly request a trip (coming soon).
      5. Click Create Global Account.
         Screen Shot 2013 10 14 at 9 09 29 AM