Product description

Standardised e-ticketing for cities, regions and networks

IONgate enables secure and uncomplicated connection to interoperable backend systems. The nationwide, standardised interoperability network (ION) meets the highest requirements for scalability, data throughput, data protection and security. highQ was involved from the beginning in the development of the interoperable electronic fare management system according to the eTicket Deutschland Standard (VDV-KA). Using the nationwide standardised eTicket Deutschland, other services – from car sharing and bicycle rental to event tickets – can also be paid for without cash.

IONgate provides basic functions for electronic fare management in public transport. It enables easy access to what are known as “co-competitive networks”, in which companies can network with each other to offer their customers improved or new processes.

With just a single e-ticket, multimodal chains of routes can be travelled throughout Germany by bus, train, bicycle and other means of transport. What is extremely convenient for public transport users requires sophisticated technology in the background. Sensitive personal user data has to be reliably recorded and securely processed.

All the transport companies involved have to be able to rely on the fact that their services are precisely calculated and invoiced. This requires comprehensive consideration of a wide range of requirements, from cashless payment transactions to e-ticketing and fare systems, different role models and types of use, varying requirements from individual companies to public transport associations and, of course, data protection for passengers and companies.



High-performance backend systems are only as good as their interfaces. The vision of a uniform e-ticketing system throughout Germany can only become reality if access for all transport companies and other intermodal transport providers functions smoothly.


Blacklist management and control service

Blacklist management and control service (KOSE) have a particular influence on the success of the (((eTicket Deutschland. highQ fulfils all the requirements of KA. This has not only been demonstrated in several pilot projects. Issues that have been successfully handled for many years include:

  • (Difference) blacklists
  • Blocking applications or authorisations
  • Temporary blocks

Promotional list management

Promotional list management offers numerous opportunities to optimise your company’s own internal process flows. IONgate supports you in this area – regardless of whether you are already part of such an environment or would like to implement promotional list management yourself.

Value unit authorisation clearing

Reliable determination of mutual claims is a basic prerequisite for interoperable cooperation between transport companies. highQ has provided various KA-compliant options for value unit authorisation clearing.

Convenient versioning

Systems continue to develop. In a nationwide open interoperability network, it is essential that even different versions can work together smoothly at all times. highQ backend systems can be updated without interrupting operations and are always compatible with other switching nodes in the ION.


Plug & Play

Not every company needs an individual backend system. That is why highQ also offers plug&play capable solutions for simple, uncomplicated connection to the ION.



[Translate to Englisch:]

Successful project start mytraQ VBB-prüfApp

Despite the adversities of Corona, the kick-off for the new project of highQ Computerlösungen GmbH with the VBB Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg GmbH was successfully carried out via a web meeting on 02.04.2020.

The scope of the project is the delivery of a VBB-prüfApp for inspectors for (partially) automated checking of the electronically stored contents of VDV barcodes and VDV user media for validity checks. The project has a duration until February 2021, already in the middle of 2020 first tests with the system will be carried out in the area. With initially up to 100 end devices (smartphone) and the highQ app mytraQ Pro, the verification of VDV

barcodes according to specifications of the VBB and VDV eTicket Service GmbH & Co. KG (VDV ETS) for all transport companies. From 2D barcodes to chip cards via NFC, in the final stage 500 devices can use the highQ solutions.

In addition to the app mytraQ Pro for the VBB-prüfApp, the highQ background systems fare.logiQ (for the administration of examiners and exams) and IONgate (for the connection to the VDV-KA, incl. the SAM server) are used. This is a good bridge to the TicketOffice for subscription/pupil card system that has been in use for many years at many transport companies in the VBB. Thomas Wanke, Branch Manager Berlin, is very pleased about this success: "Once again, highQ shows how we, with our product portfolio, make a significant contribution to the optimization of public transport processes. Only by using the already existing standard app mytraQ Pro can the VBB schedule be kept and the first tests can already be started. The app mytraQ Pro can also be used for the entire EBE process in the future to leverage further synergies.

[Translate to Englisch:]

Online mobility marketplace

city of the future

Making purchases via online trading platforms has permanently changed our habits. Never before has it been so convenient to order and pay for products from different suppliers via a single access point. In the future, it will be just as easy to use train, bus, car sharing and other public transportation services via a mobility platform developed by the IT company highQ Computerlösungen. Among the pioneers of this new, digitally networked mobility is the city of Osnabrück in Lower Saxony, Germany.


“If you want to get people out of their cars, you have to make them a really attractive offer”, observed Thomas Hornig, Managing Director of highQ. The mobility specialists at the 60-strong Freiburg-based IT company have been thinking for many years about how a change towards more environmentally friendly forms of transport can be achieved. Their pivotal approach is a digital mobility platform on which all of a city’s transport services are combined under one (software) roof. Following a one-time registration with the platform (single sign-on), transportation users can then book any intermodal travel chain directly via an associated smartphone app.


This concept, also called “seamless mobility” by transport experts, is intended to compensate for the comfort advantage of the private car. “This is a great opportunity for transport companies to reposition themselves as comprehensive mobility service providers”, Thomas Hornig pointed out. highQ develops the necessary software modules for this type of networked transport service, for example to enable cross-supplier billing for the various transport services provided.


Osnabrück leads the way

Among the pioneers in this field is Stadtwerke Osnabrück (SWO), which has been implementing a comprehensive digitisation programme for urban mobility services for three years now. Based on the highQ platform concept, the system has so far integrated municipal bus services, local car sharing and municipal parking garages, with lockable bicycle shelters set to follow soon. “Thanks to the modular system structure, we can add further offers at any time, such as rental pedelecs and e-cargobikes”, explained Maik Blome, marketing and sales manager for SWO’s mobility services. “Following a one-time registration, our customers then have access to all transportation offerings.”


A service that appears so simple for the end user required a considerable amount of effort before it could be achieved. In particular, heterogeneous IT inventory systems needed to be linked via adapted interfaces so that the flow of data between the various Osnabrück mobility providers could run smoothly. The implementation of the entire system was carried out under the leadership of highQ as general contractor. According to Maik Blome, this proved to be a good decision: “We always had one central contact person for any questions or problems.”


One swipe and off you go

The Osnabrück mobility platform is scheduled to go into full operation in the course of 2020. As well as being able to use all modes of transport across all providers, this includes a new type of ticket system. The check in/check out ticketing system makes bus travel much more convenient for occasional passengers. When boarding the bus, a swipe of the smartphone is all that is required – and that’s it. The system itself determines where you change and get off and automatically calculates the price for the distance covered. A further advantage for passengers is “best price” invoicing. All individual journeys completed within a certain period of time are retrospectively charged to a day or week ticket – meaning that customers always receive the cheapest ticket. “With this system, we in Osnabrück are a nationwide pioneer”, Maik Blome explained.


With its mobility platform, the city in Lower Saxony has also prepared the way for the digital future of local transportation. Maik Blome offered a foretaste of how things will be by 2030: “Public transport in Osnabrück will be networked, digital, electric and autonomous, providing passengers with a seamless, multimodal mobility chain from door to door.” In the future, this will include on-demand, non-timetabled services for the last mile. Blome summarised the city’s ambitious goal: “We aim to make public mobility in Osnabrück so easy and convenient that you will never miss your car again.”


Rewarding sensible mobility behaviour

Experience shows that it is difficult to persuade die-hard drivers to switch to public transport, even with the best offer. For this reason, highQ has developed an even more far-reaching strategy that includes private cars in the mobility mix in addition to the means of transport provided by the environmental alliance. The concept is to use highQ’s mytraQ app to provide commuters with individual travel recommendations based on current traffic data and the behaviour of other mytraQ users. If traffic is congested somewhere, the app suggests less congested alternative routes or recommends switching to public transport, car sharing or a combination of different modes of transport.


Anyone who follows the app’s advice is rewarded twice over. For a start, they reach their destination quickly and without stress. In addition, they are credited with “time mile”, which can later be exchanged for free journeys, free parking periods or shopping discounts. Research results confirm that this type of bonus system works. Provided that a conurbation has sufficient public transport, monetary or non-cash incentives can be used to steer individual mobility behaviour in the desired direction in terms of choice of transport mode, route and time of day. The concept has already been thoroughly tested in Stuttgart under the project name “moveBW” and will soon be put into live operation.


Apart from the road users themselves, the cities benefit too by evening out traffic flows in terms of time and space and distributing them more evenly over the existing infrastructure. However, commercial enterprises can also use “time miles” to motivate their employees to use bicycles more frequently or to form car pools, thereby improving the efficiency of parking space management and their environmental balance. As highQ Managing Director Thomas Hornig concluded: “In any case, it makes more sense to invest a comparatively small amount in intelligent mobility than to invest huge sums in additional roads or parking spaces.”

[Translate to Englisch:]

Barrier open for the modernised DB Sylt Shuttle

The cooperation between highQ and the DB Fernverkehr AG has already lasted over 18 years

highQ’s collaboration with DB Fernverkehr AG, the operator of the “Sylt Shuttle” motorail train between Niebüll and Westerland, has now been in place for over 18 years. highQ managing director Thomas Hornig remembers the beginnings of the project well: “Back then, at the beginning of this millennium, we converted the Sylt Shuttle ticketing system from paper to electronic chip cards and thus – literally – digitised it.” This chip-card-based system, called SVT01, was then in continuous use for 18 years, 365 days a year.


Naturally, the technology has not stood still since then, so highQ was given a follow-up order in July 2018 to modernise the Sylt shuttle. The aim was to bring both the customer interface and the backend up to date. The new SVTneo system, which went live gradually during 2019, incorporates a number of new features. These include a customer web shop and a convenient app ticketing system that replaces the chip-card-based payment and barrier machines.


“This has now brought the Sylt Shuttle fully up to date for the mobile age”, explained highQ project manager Erik Schlegel. Car train passengers can now book their transfer in advance, either online or via their mobile devices, and then directly enter the loading terminal through the open barrier. This is because the check-in process is now carried out automatically via license plate recognition. “The resulting customer experience is almost magical”, said an enthusiastic Schlegel.


highQ was expressly praised for the good and timely implementation by its customer, Deutsche Bahn: “We are proud of the new, jointly developed Sylt shuttle booking system and, at the same time, we can look back on a truly long-standing collaboration since 2001”, commented Thomas Hellwig, who led the project for DB Fernverkehr AG. “Thanks to the company’s expertise, highQ has been able to keep our system up to date over the past two decades through continuous further development – in the fast-moving IT world, this is certainly anything but the norm.” highQ boss Thomas Hornig was happy to return this praise: “We were delighted to receive the follow-up order, as it demonstrated that even after 18 years of partnership, our excellent relationship shows no signs of fading”, he observed.


The third group in the mix – the actual users of the Sylt Shuttle – also seem to be happy with the result. The new app received overwhelmingly positive ratings in the app stores and was already used for 600 bookings in the first week after its release on the web and as an app – even before the new functions were actively promoted.

Travel smart, save time

Commuters lose a lot of time every day on their way to and from work. The Time Miles bonus system promises to help:

Commuters lose a lot of time every day on their way to and from work. The “Zeitmeilen” (time miles) bonus system promises to help by rewarding flexible, multimodal mobility behaviour and thus helping to even out traffic flows.

The worst situation is in Berlin: according to a study by the US traffic information service INRIX, in 2018 Berliners lost an average of 154 hours of their lives in traffic jams and slow-moving traffic. Things are not much better in other German conurbations. Nationwide, it is estimated that over half a million hours are lost every year, valued at 4.5 billion euros, and the environment is polluted with an additional 600 tonnes of CO2 as a result of the increased fuel consumption. And there is no prospect of a sustainable improvement, because neither the road network nor the public transport system can be readjusted in the short term to meet the anticipated further increase in commuter traffic.


Berlin start-up Zeitmeilen AG aims to demonstrate a way out of this dilemma with a novel digital service. The idea is that rather than stubbornly take the same route every day, commuters should base their route selection on the individual recommendations of their mobility app. Despite having an identical destination, the recommended route can be different every day, or – for example in the case of extensive traffic obstructions – suggest parking the car at the nearest park & ride place and continuing by underground train. In any event, anyone who follows the recommendation will reach their destination faster and with less stress, and the city as a whole will benefit too. This is because the traffic flow will be temporally and spatially evened out and optimally distributed over the existing infrastructure.


How it works

For each participant, the Zeitmeilen app determines an individual, congestion-free route to his or her destination. The application is primarily intended for commuters who regularly need to make the same journeys. However, the prediction function also allows new journeys to be time-optimised. The basis for the system’s recommendations is the movement data of all Zeitmeilen users, supplemented by current and historic traffic data from the regional traffic centre. This enables valid predictions to be made based on the most up-to-date data, including taking short-term factors into account. Conversely, the system can also provide traffic authorities with valuable additional information that they can use to influence and optimise traffic flows.


Advantages over other routing apps

Compared to other routing apps, Zeitmeilen has several advantages. For one thing, the system has access to a comprehensive regional database and can therefore also take foreseeable traffic restrictions into account in its recommendations, such as those caused by future roadworks. Secondly, the system not only optimises the individual routes of individual road users, but also the routes of all Zeitmeilen users in parallel, thus making use of “swarm intelligence”. It can also take account of the ‘common good’ by not routing alternative journeys through sensitive parts of a city such as residential areas or past schools, for example. And last but not least, Zeitmeilen meets the highest data protection requirements. The application uses a patented positioning system that conforms to the German General Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO), meaning that no individual movement profiles are created. All processes run anonymously and encrypted via German servers and networks.


Bonus points create additional incentives

All that remains is for road users to follow the good advice of Zeitmeilen and everything would be fine... Unfortunately, of course, humans are creatures of habit and like to take their accustomed route every day. To help them discover new routes and to encourage them to adopt “sensible” mobility behaviour, Zeitmeilen also includes a reward system with gamification components. Anyone who uses the application regularly and follows the route recommendations will not only reach his or her destination faster, but can also – as a thank-you for being flexible – collect bonus points (time miles). These can later be exchanged for non-cash, virtual or monetary rewards, such as periods of free parking or shopping vouchers. In this way, the incentive programme integrated into Zeitmeilen also enables a variety of participation models for regional mobility providers.


Corporate applications

Apart from commuters who use the Zeitmeilen app to avoid traffic jams, and local authorities who benefit from reduced traffic peaks, companies can also gain advantages by introducing Zeitmeilen for their employees. For one thing, staff arrive at work punctually and more relaxed in the morning, while concrete savings can be achieved through the more efficient use of company fleets and the reduction of parking spaces. The costs of setting up and operating the Zeitmeilen application are thus rapidly recouped – after all, it takes just a fraction of the costs that would otherwise be incurred in the construction and operation of parking spaces, for example. Moreover, the company can improve its long-term CO2 balance by actively involving its employees in sensible commuting.


Incentivisation within companies

Incentives can be used in a meaningful way in the corporate context as well. If an employee follows the recommendations of the app (e.g. driving outside rush hours or using an alternative route), or drives in a resource-saving manner such as carpooling, using public transport or cycling, she or he will collect “time miles” (Zeitmeilen) that can then be exchanged for a bonus. On top of that, internal competitions (“Time Miler of the Month”) can boost motivation. As a supplement to the app, there is a dashboard for tracking individual records of success. This can be placed in the company canteen, for example, to motivate other employees to participate. Because Zeitmeilen always rewards positive mobility behaviour rather than imposing sanctions, employee representatives and trade unions generally have no reservations about introducing such incentive measures.


Flexible integration into mobility apps

Today, Zeitmeilen AG belongs to the family of Freiburg-based software company highQ, which specialises in the development of IT solutions for public transport and controlling solutions for banks. Users of the mobility app mytraQ, developed by highQ, can therefore already use the full spectrum of Zeitmeilen functions to optimise business mobility. In addition, Zeitmeilen will continue to be available as a stand-alone app and as a white-label product for integration into routing and ticketing apps from other providers. One example of this type of white-label application is the multimodal mobility app moveBW in Stuttgart. Zeitmeilen has also already been used in the corporate context as part of the SB:digital initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.


To maximise user acceptance, Zeitmeilen fundamentally follows the principle of “rewarding instead of punishing”. Rather than being sanctioned for driving your own car – as in the case of a driving ban or congestion charge, for example – motorised private transport remains part of the mobility mix optimised by Zeitmeilen. However, if the user chooses, switching to the transport modes of the environmental alliance can be rewarded via the incentive function. In this way, even die-hard motorists are more likely to be won over and gradually moved towards multimodal, more environmentally friendly transport behaviour. Consequently, it may turn out to be more effective for traffic-stricken communities as well as companies to invest a small amount in Zeitmeilen rather than infinitely greater sums in additional roads or parking spaces.


About Zeitmeilen AG

Zeitmeilen AG is a sister company of highQ Computerlösungen GmbH and makes a concrete contribution to the realisation of sustainable mobility. Through the technological networking of information, mobility can be made convenient and stress-free for the individual, efficient for the economy and society, and environmentally friendly.

Intermodal and demand-driven: planning for transportation transformation

Development of an intermodal planning component based on the planning system PlanB

Integrated traffic concepts consisting of scheduled services and on-demand offers are to be tested within the framework of the MaaS L.A.B.S. research project. Freiburg IT company highQ is developing an intermodal planning component based on its PlanB planning system.


The world of mobility is still clearly divided into two halves: motorised private transport on the one hand and public transport on the other. Within the next few years, however, traffic in cities is likely to look much more colourful. Line-based public transport will be supplemented by individual, demand-driven sharing components, sometimes referred to as “individual public transport” (German “IÖV”). The aim is to enable all transport users to reach their destinations as safely and conveniently using environmentally sensitive modes of travel as they are used to with travelling in their own cars.


The feasibility and acceptance of such a transport system is to be clarified by the four-year research and development project MaaS L.A.B.S. (Mobility as a Service Platform: Alive, Automated, Demand & Sharing Oriented). The project is funded by the BMBF with approximately 4.5 million euros and was officially launched on 15 May 2019. Potsdam was selected as one of three pilot cities. There, the existing public transport schedule is to be supplemented by self-driving electric microbuses as well as car, bike and ridesharing services. All offers will be brought together via a common digital platform to create a uniform, attractive overall offer for transport users.


Integration of all mobility offers

The basis of the system is an integrated mobility platform that links the transport services of the various providers and enables comprehensive and coordinated planning, control and billing functions. Transport users will be able to access the complete range of services via a routing and ticketing app, which is yet to be developed. Users will be able to compile their individual travel chains via smartphone, receive a total price for the chosen option and then book it directly.


In addition to the transport companies of the three pilot cities (Potsdam, Cottbus and Hannover), several universities and IT companies are involved in MaaS L.A.B.S. One of the ten project partners is Freiburg IT company highQ Computerlösungen GmbH, which has already gained experience in numerous research and customer projects in the field of digital mobility. Alongside its involvement in the overall MaaS architecture, highQ is significantly involved in the development of the platform’s own ticketing and clearing systems, as well as the MaaS app and the MaaS planning component.


Making planning more flexible

An integrated offer of this kind, in which scheduled and on-demand services are flexibly linked with one another, requires intermodal operational planning. This has so far not been supported by conventional public transport planning tools. As part of MaaS L.A.B.S., a planning tool of this nature will now be implemented for the first time. The basis is provided by the highQ planning software PlanB, which will be supplemented for this purpose by additional modules for preliminary planning and ad-hoc deployment planning of on-demand transportation. The supply corridors will be defined in the preliminary planning phase. The actual deployment planning of the vehicles will then take place in real time on the basis of passenger requests. These requests will be efficiently pooled onto the vehicles, and connecting services will always be taken into account to minimise waiting times for passengers. In this way, reliable travel chains can be created that offer a genuine alternative to travelling in your own car.


Because on-demand transport will be handled by electric microbuses, the specifics of electric vehicles – such as range and recharging time – will also need to be taken into account in route planning. The necessary additions to PlanB are already being implemented. The creation and optimisation of the routes will then be based on the available (remaining) ranges of the vehicles, depending on the energy requirements (e.g. elevation profile) of the respective route, as well as on the climatic conditions, which also have an impact on actual vehicle ranges.


A role model for other cities

The project results of MaaS L.A.B.S. are intended to form the basis for an ecological traffic transformation in cities – away from private transport and towards what is being called “individual public transport”. For this reason, the project will not focus solely on the technical aspects: it will also actively involve the population, urban development, transport planning and political representatives of the participating cities. If the desired project objectives are successfully implemented and achieve the hoped-for acceptance among transport users, planned intermodal transport systems will soon be introduced in other cities and municipalities.



Flexible planning for every size of operation

The PlanB planning system was originally developed for timetable, route and duty scheduling in small, regional bus companies. For this reason, the focus was on making the system as simple and intuitive as possible, as well as achieving significantly lower implementation costs than the “big” planning systems on the market. PlanB continues to offer these advantages, even though the system is now used just as much in large transport companies and associations as it is for the planning of tram services. Today, PlanB is being used by a large number of public transport companies nationwide, in rural areas (e.g. Nahverkehr Hohenlohe/NVH, Verkehrsgesellschaft Vorpommern-Greifswald/VVVM) as well as in special transportation in metropolitan regions (e.g. Verkehrsbetrieb Hamburg-Holstein/VHH, Dr. Richard Linien, Vienna).


PlanB is particularly suitable for flexible planning scenarios, such as those required for tendering. For instance, meaningful results can be generated by entering just a small amount of data. The simultaneous provision of routing and service information allows tendering participants to take into account the applicable legal and tariff regulations. Optional modules for optimising vehicle and duty rosters support planners in the best possible use of resources. Another particular strength of the system lies in the flexible planning of day-specific services, for instance in school traffic.


The latest version 11 of the programme, released in August 2019, additionally offers a functional “planning situation” extension to display alternative plans (route sequences, journeys) in specific time periods. This enables current traffic events to be prepared even more effectively and the corresponding planning data to be made available for subsequent passenger information or operations control systems (ITCS).


“Even outside of the actual implementation projects, highQ is committed to the VDV-KA and is actively involved in further developing the specification. highQ are genuine e-ticketing specialists.”


Elke Fischer,VDV eTicket Service GmbH & Co. KG

“I got to know highQ from the very successful collaboration concerning TicketOffice, KOSE-P and WEB-Clearing-P. highQ was always extremely competent and punctual in all projects. It’s also a pleasure to work with a technology company where results orientation is not solely related to the quarterly report.”


Hans-Andreas Hoffmann, Projektberater


Do you have questions about IONgate? Kai Horn and his team will be happy to answer your questions.


Kai Horn


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