Paris St-Lazare is likely to be one of more than 300 French stations to be equipped with Bluetooth beacons for geolocation services.

FRANCE: SNCF’s stations business Gares & Connexions has launched an innovation competition branded Open Beacon aimed at enhancing the accessibility of and service offering at major stations.

The term ‘open beacon’ refers to Gares & Connexions’ plan to install Bluetooth geolocation tags in more than 300 stations across the country. These are intended to drive personalised alerts and information feeds to passengers’ own devices as they pass through the station.

SNCF is keen to ensure the potential of such geolocation techniques is maximised as far as possible, hence the decision to open up the process to the wider digital and start-up community through a competition.

Entries from third parties are expected primarily address one of three categories: navigation, services & retail, and accessibility. However, entrants will also be allowed to enter in a fourth category described by SNCF ‘something we have not thought of’.

The entry deadline is November 23, and an initial group of 10 teams will be selected to take their pitches forward to a final judging competition in the first quarter of 2019. Three of the 10 will then be selected to work up their ideas in partnership with staff from Gares & Connexions. A prize fund of €18 000 will be shared between the three winning entries.