ITSO explained

This illustration explains how an ITSO smart ticketing system works
ITSO Application layers

As technology evolves, so will how ITSO smart ticketing works.

All ITSO-compliant systems rely on ISAMs (ITSO Secure Application Modules) which are secure electronic data processing modules, the size of a mobile phone SIM card. These check the card holders’ permissions, authenticate and validate their electronic tickets, and store journey data for further processing.

The ISAM communicates with the back office system (HOPS or Host Operator or Processing System) through another security device called an HSAM (HOPS Secure Application Module).

The overarching security application module in a system is known as the Primary HSAM or PHSAM.

ISAMs are inserted into railway ticketing gates and machines, or on bus, tram or ferry ticketing machines. They can also reside within handheld ticketing machines used by bus or train ticket inspectors, or be used in toll systems such as on bridges or in transport tunnels.

When an operator sets up an ITSO system, the ISAMs are profiled using the ITSO Security Management System (ISMS) which is run by ITSO Limited. This is the central part of the ITSO Security Sub System which acts as the ‘keeper of the keys’, managing the provision of data access keys to the secure devices (ISAMs) in ticketing machines and barriers.

The electronic wallet within a smartcard that contains electronic tickets for ITSO-compliant schemes, similar to an ‘app’ on a smartphone, is known as a shell. The shell can be programmed to be read by machines to say ‘yes this person has enough money on the card to pay for this ticket’, or ‘yes this person is a railway season ticket holder for this route’. This is programmed by individual transport operators to reflect their individual tickets and prices.

ITSO Limited only provides the services of the ISMS. It does not offer smartcards, ticketing machines or HOPS services. These are provided by suppliers whose equipment is tested and certified by ITSO to ensure it can run ITSO-compliant schemes.

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This page was last updated on 14 June 2016 GMT