Admin App

The admin app is where you, or you local service administrators, manage your transport system on a day-to-day basis. It’s different from the management console because it focusses on the day-to-day actions that are important in a specific location. What’s more, unlike the management console, it is a Windows application.

Installing the Admin App

We covered accepting the admin app licence agreement and downloading the installer when we looked at the management console. Once you have the installer downloaded, open it and follow the on-screen install instructions.

Please don’t share the admin app installer (or any of its other files) with anyone outside your organisation. The admin app’s EULA actually forbids this.

Once the admin app has been installed, you should find a shortcut to it on the start menu. Open the installed admin app. On first run, the admin app requires a licence code. You can find your licence code on the management console under the admin app tab. Once you have entered the code you should be presented with a login screen. Sign in using the email address and password of your normal account.

If you’ve followed along with these instructions, you will have first created a passenger account and then set up your organisation. After your new organisation was created, you should have clicked a button on the management console labelled “Transfer {your name} to {your new location}”. If you didn’t click this button, do so now, or you won’t be able to log into the admin app.

There’s more information about this here.

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Window Management

The admin application is split into 6 main windows that generally remain open, though they are unlikely to all be visible on you screen at the same time when you initially open the app.

The admin app uses tabbed windows. This means that there is a single parent window, with several child windows. Each child window has a tab that you can click to bring that window into the foreground.

In this screenshot the tabs for the child windows have been highlighted.
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You can also set a child window to auto-hide by clicking the small pin in the top-right of the child window (the screenshot below demonstrates this). Once auto-hidden, a child window pops up automatically when you hover the mouse over its tab. You can switch off auto-hiding by hovering over a child window’s tab and clicking the pin in the top right again.

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This screenshot shows how you can auto-hide a window to save screen space

You can also also click and drag a child window’s tab to a new location within the parent window. You will see on-screen markers indicating where you can drop the window. Alternatively, you can drag it outside of the parent window entirely so that it becomes its own free-standing window (this is useful to do if you have multiple screens).

The Map

You will have noticed that the application opens with a large child window containing a map of the location. The mark has a thick turquoise line drawn around the location boundary that you specified in the management console.

You will see the current locations of all drivers shown with turquoise pins on the map. The markers move in real time as the drivers/vehicles move. If you click on any of these pins, you will see the name and status of the driver. The status can indicate that the driver is:

When the driver is currently on the way to an uplift point , the status message gives details of the next passenger to be picked-up/dropped-off. These details show the name of the next passenger to get in/out as well as the time the vehicle is expected to arrive at the uplift point and the number of seats currently occupied in the vehicle.

When clicking on a driver who is on their way to an uplift point, you will also see red lines connecting the driver’s marker to differently styled markers that indicate the uplift points.

The driver (Prerana Corona) is on their way to pick up Demonstration Passenger.
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Simply Connect continually evaluates the expected arrival and departure times at each of the upcoming uplift points, based on the expected on-road driving time as well as the passenger’s expected boarding/alighting time. To see the detailed time projection at each upcoming uplift point, click on ‘View all stopping points’. A new window will open with the detailed itinerary for the selected driver.

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The driver is on time for their upcoming pick-up and drop-off.

In the itinerary window, the scheduled arrival and departure times show the times that the system or service administrator scheduled for the driver to arrive and depart from each uplift point. These can be compared with the currently expected arrival and departure times.

Whilst not shown in the screenshot above, when a driver is running late to get to their scheduled uplift points on time, this is highlighted in the pop-up driver information and in the driver itinerary window.

Active Drivers Window

The active drivers window acts in tandem with the map. It shows only the drivers who are currently on shift, along with a summary of information about that driver. The summary information includes:

If you cannot find a driver on the map, click on the driver in the active driver’s window. The map will zoom to the selected driver. Vice-versa, clicking on a driver marker on the map will (as long as that driver is on shift) highlight the same driver in the active drivers window.

Managing Users

The admin app allows you to view, create and manage passengers, drivers and other service administrators. This is done through the Users window. The Users window lists all users in your location and can be filtered and ordered by clicking the respective filter and order buttons at the top of the window (hover the mouse over each button to see its functionality).

Hover the mouse over each button to see its function.
Hover

Creating a new user

To create a new user, click the button with the + symbol on the Users window. The new user window opens. Within the basic details section of the new user window, select whether to create a new passenger or a new driver and fill in the rest of the basic details fields (phone number is optional). You can indicate whether the user agrees to be contacted by phone to discuss their journeys or other issues related to their Simply Connect account, and this information will be stored in the system.

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The administrator is creating a new passenger.

Allowing the new user to use the passenger app

If you want the new user to be able to log into the passenger app, to be able to book and manage their own journeys, then check the appropriate checkbox within the Logging In section. If you indicate that the user will be able to log into the passenger app, you must provide their email address in the box provided.

If you indicate that the user should be able to log into the passenger app, an email will be sent to the new user’s email address that you provide in the box. The new user must have consented to receive this email.

Before being able to book journeys through the passenger app, the new user needs to validate the email address that you provide by clicking on the link in the welcome email they receive. They will then be asked to set a password for their new account.

If the new user does not click the link in the welcome email they receive, you or another service administrator can still book and manage their journeys for them in the admin app. This can be useful if you run a transport service where passengers predominantly phone you to manage journeys, but where you want to give them the option to book and manage their own journeys too.

Setting the new passenger’s address

You can optionally set an address for the passenger. If you do so, service administrators can simply specify ‘home’ as a journey origin or destination when booking a journey for the passenger, thereby speeding up the booking process. The passenger – if they log into the passenger app – can also specify ‘home’ as a journey origin or destination.

If you add an address for the passenger, make sure it is accurate. If you set the passenger’s address, the passenger might use the passenger app to book a journey to/from their home without fully checking the location shown on the map in the passenger app.

If the passenger logs onto the passenger app, they can change all of the settings you set here, including their address.

Setting accessibility requirements

When creating the new user, you can indicate whether the passenger generally requires space for a wheelchair and/or a vehicle with a lift. Note that this sets the default for each journey that you book for this passenger (or that the passenger books for themselves) but you/they can override this for individual journeys at the time of booking.

Creating Drivers

Don’t forget, if you want to create a driver (for example, before creating a driver shift in subsequent sections), use the Create User window and select the ‘Create Driver’ option.

Messaging Users

Did you know that you can use Simply Connect to keep in touch with your passengers and drivers too? In fact, Simply Connect has an extensive messaging module built in, that handles sending messages to users by email, SMS and in-app notifications, according to the user’s own preferences.

Most of the messages that Simply Connect sends to users are automated messages, for example to give them a status update on a journey. However, service administrators can also send messages to both drivers and passengers through the admin app. To do this, click on the User Details button in the users window, and click Send Message.

The administrator is sending a message to a passenger or driver.
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If the message was sent successfully, you will see a notification box telling you which channels (email, SMS or in-app notification) the message was sent by. Depending on the recipient’s preferences, it may be sent by one or more channels.

The message might also not be able to be sent at all. This can happen, for example, where a user has not validated their email address. If it is not possible to send the message at all you will see an error message. We suggest you contact the user directly if this happens.

Sending messages to drivers

You can message drivers from the admin app in the same way that you message passengers. However, if the driver has the driver app open, the message will be read out to them. This can be useful for communicating simple messages to drivers while they are driving.

Creating a Vehicle

If you’re running a transport operation, you’ll have one or more vehicles. Within Simply Connect, you need to add a vehicle before you can create a driver shift, and you need to create a driver shift before passengers can book journeys. Vehicles are managed in the Vehicles window, which, in the admin app’s default layout, is found in the bottom right of the main window. The Vehicles window is a tabbed window, so you might need to click its tab to bring it into the foreground.

Besides the standard filter and ordering options, the Vehicles window only has two main buttons: create a new vehicle, and view vehicle details. You can also double click on a row in the table to view the details of that vehicle.

Creating
Creating a new vehicle, or editing an existing one

When you create or edit a vehicle, you should set, at a minimum, its registration number and the number of standard passenger seats available. If the vehicle has wheelchair places, count these separately. You can also enter a description of the vehicle, which will be shown to passengers booking journeys.

Do not count the driver’s seat within the number of available seats! It is important that the number of seats you enter accurately reflects the number of passengers able to travel in the vehicle, or Simply Connect’s algorithms, when in automated mode, might book more passengers into the vehicle than will fit.

Creating a Driver Shift

Before any of your passengers can book a journey, you need to create at least one driver shift. Driver shifts tell the system what times drivers are available, and link individual drivers with vehicles.

Drivers, vehicles and driver shifts

Drivers and vehicles are separate entities in real life, and they’re treated as such within Simply Connect too. A driver might drive 3 different vehicles in day – each of which have their own characteristics (number of seats, accessibility, name and photo, etc).

By creating a driver shift, you associate a particular driver with a particular vehicle for a set amount of time. For example, you could create a shift between 13:00 and 18:00 on 27 April, for driver James, who at that time will be driving the vehicle “Blue minibus” that has registration number ABC 123.

To create and manage driver shifts, go to the driver shifts window. By default, the driver shifts window loads in the bottom right on the parent window, and is in a set of 4 or 5 tabs (the others are Users, Journeys, Vehicles, and possibly Journey Requests).

To create a driver shift, click the + button at the top of the screen and select the driver, vehicle and times for the shift. To edit an existing shift, use the button with the blue icon showing a clock.

If you need to create a driver or a vehicle to use with the shift first, go back to the users and/or vehicles windows and then come back to the driver shifts window to create the shift.

The maximum time you can create a driver shift for is 8 hours. If you want the driver to be associated with the vehicle for longer than that you’ll need to give them multiple shifts.

Booking a Journey for a Passenger

In some transport operations, you might prefer (or require) passengers to book their own journeys using the passenger app. In others, you might prefer (or require) them to contact your office directly to book and manage journeys. Either way, Simply Connect can help support your operation by managing journey bookings for you.

Regardless of how it was booked, all upcoming journeys appear in the journeys list window. (You can also uncheck the ‘Current journeys only’ checkbox to view past journeys as well.)

We will look now at how to book a journey from the admin app. If the passenger has booked their own journey, it will appear in the journeys list window and can be managed the same way as a journey booked by an administrator.

Book and edit a journey
Book

From the journey list window, click the appropriate button to book a journey. A search box will open, asking you for the name of the passenger to book the journey for. You can select the passenger from the drop-down list, or search by the passenger’s last name. Once you’ve selected the passenger to book the journey for, click Select or press return, and the new journey window will open.

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The admin is booking a new journey for Demonstration Passenger

The new journey window is mostly self-explanatory, but it’s worth pointing out that the Select Vehicle option may change and/or not appear, depending on the automation settings you set in the management console for your location. In the screenshot above, the location is in automatic mode and the location has been set to optionally allow service administrators to select a vehicle for new journeys. If your location is in manual mode (as in the example below), the select vehicle option will not appear at all.

Also note that when you type in the location search box to select the journey’s origin and destination, you must press return to show the results of your search. Click on the most relevant search result.

If you want to check and refine the location returned by the search, click on Show Maps. The marker will show where the passenger will be picked-up/dropped off. If the pin is in the wrong place, you can drag it to the right place.

Manual or automatic mode

What happens now depends on whether the location is in manual or automatic mode. Let’s look at manual mode first. The process of booking a journey in manual mode is longer and slower, but it is generally the clearest mode to get started with because you manually handle the vehicle assignation and scheduling tasks that Simply Connect’s algorithms handle for you when in automatic mode.

If you initially created your location in automatic mode and want to change to manual mode to follow along with these instructions, log onto the management console via management.simplyconnect.app and visit Settings -> Automation. After saving the changes, you will need to restart the admin app.

Once you click “Request Journey”, you will see a confirmation of the new journey’s parameters (times, passengers, accessibility requirements and payment options). Depending on the payment settings you set for your location and on whether the user you are booking a journey for has added a card to their account, you might need to select between multiple payment options.

Remember that you are booking this journey on behalf of another passenger! For certain options, such as payment options, you might want to fill in the form whilst taking a phone request from the passenger – this way you can ask the passenger, for example, how they would like to pay for the journey (for example, by a pre-saved card, by cash in the vehicle, etc).

Note that Simply Connect does not support accepting card details over the phone. The option to pay by card will only appear when both: (a) card payments are enabled for your location; and (b) the user has already added and authorised a card on their account, via the passenger app.

In manual mode, there will not yet be either pick-up or drop-off times assigned to the new journey. Remember that the “depart after” or “arrive by” time you entered for the passenger in the first step was simply the passenger’s travel time constraint, and need not be the exact time you plan for the vehicle to arrive at either uplift point.

From this window, you can choose to either “Confirm and Assign Now” or “Confirm and Assign Later” (note that you might need to select a payment method before these buttons become available). For now, we will click “Confirm and Assign Now”.

When you confirm the journey with “Confirm and Assign Now”, the vehicle assignation window will open.

If you select “Confirm and assign later” instead, you will be able to find the journey waiting in the Journey Requests window for you to assign it a vehicle and uplift times. By default, the Journey Requests window is a tabbed window in the bottom right of the primary window.

This is the same place where, when in manual mode, you can find journey requests that originate from passengers booking journeys themselves via the passenger app (when in automatic mode, the vehicle and times are automatically assigned and so the Journey Requests window is not present). When there are journeys waiting to be assigned, a blue bar will appear at the top of the map reminding you that you need to do so.

In the top right part of the vehicle assignation window, you should choose a vehicle to service this journey request. Note that you can only select vehicles that will have a driver driving them at the time of the journey. You can also only select vehicles that meet the basic requirements of the journey. For example, in the first screenshot below, the admin has attempted to select a vehicle without any wheelchair space for a journey that requires a wheelchair space, so the admin app has prevented this selection.

The user has attempted to select an invalid vehicle (that has no wheelchair spaces) for a journey that requires a wheelchair space.
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Once you have selected a vehicle that meets the journey’s basic requirements, you can set pick-up and drop-off times using the green and red sliders. If the system detects a possible issue with your time selection, it will warn you. For example, see the screenshot below, where the administrator has dragged the boarding time back to an earlier time than the passenger was prepared to leave. However, this is manual mode and the warnings will not prevent an administrator from setting whatever times they wish (the one exception to this is that each journey’s pick-up point must be visited before its drop-off point – the system will prevent an administrator from assigning a visit to a journey’s drop-off point before its pick-up point.)

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The user has selected an appropriate vehicle for the journey, but has indicated that the passenger should be picked up before the earliest time the passenger wishes to leave.

One final note on the vehicle assignation screen: if you assign a journey to a vehicle that already has other journeys assigned to it within the same driver shift, you will see all the uplift points on the timeline, for all journeys that that vehicle is doing within the driver shift. This is as an aid to choosing the best order and times for the vehicle to visit each uplift point. If you wish, you can change the times of – and even reorder – the uplift points of existing journeys. If you significantly change the time of a previously-assigned journey, we will automatically contact the passenger to let them know that their journey time has been changed.

The admin is selecting a vehicle that already has another journey. The system has calculated the driving times and is warning the user that there might be insufficient driving time between some points.
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Automatic mode

Now that you have seen manual mode, you hopefully will appreciate the control it gives you. However, this control also comes with the burden of scheduling times and vehicles that is placed upon you or members of your local service administration team.

In automatic mode, the system will determine the best vehicle to use (though you can intervene in this selection if you wish) and when best to scheduled the passenger’s journey – intertwining the passenger’s journey with journeys of other passengers on similar routes whilst respecting the passenger’s time requirements.

Cancelling and Managing Existing Journeys

If a passenger phones you to say that they are no longer able to travel, you’ll want to be able to cancel their journey. You might also want to check information about the assigned vehicle, driver, or the passenger themselves. You can do all this by double clicking on an existing journey in the journeys list (you can also use the Edit Journey button at the top of the journey list).

The journeys list shows information about the journey, including about the passenger, driver, assigned times and payment method and status. It also includes a button to cancel the journey, and a further button to view ‘Journey Events’ (which we describe below).

Viewing
Viewing the details of a journey. Buttons are available to cancel the journey, as well as viewing information about the driver, passenger and vehicle. Finally, there is a button to view all events recorded for this journey.

Journey Events

Journey events are events that typically occur in the course of a journey. There are a number of journey events, some of which occur only infrequently, but the most common ones are:

Each journey event is recorded alongside the time at which it occurred, and may be useful in assessing what went wrong if a journey did not meet a passenger’s expectations or another issue occurred.

As an example, if a passenger phones up after completing a journey and says that they were late because their vehicle did not pick them up in time, you can look at the journey events for that journey. You might see, for example, that the vehicle stopped at the passenger’s pick-up point 5 minutes late. However, the passenger did not board the vehicle for another 5 minutes after the vehicle had stopped, suggesting that the passenger may have been late arriving at the pick-up point as well as the vehicle being late. In this situation, the late arrival was due both to the system (the vehicle arrived 5 minutes late) and the passenger (who could have arrived up to 10 minutes late).

On a more positive side, the journey events can be used to increase accountability and provide statistics on the general punctuality of your service, and can be useful records to consult in many different scenarios.

The final screenshot below shows the events of a journey that has just been booked. The journey is in an early stage and the vehicle has not yet reached (nor is approaching) the passenger’s pick-up point.

Viewing the events of a journey.
Viewing

Should vehicles wait for passengers who are late?

Slightly aside from the admin app itself, let’s touch on an important question: what should your organisation and drivers do if a passenger is late getting to their pick-up point?

Of course, the choice is up to you. Simply Connect, when in automated mode, will always try to recover from delays, for example by swapping the drop-off order of two passengers where doing so would reduce their collective lateness. However, recovering from delays is not always possible, especially when the system is busy (when there are a large number of journeys booked relative to the number of vehicles you have).

In the example above, a passenger boarded the vehicle 10 minutes late, suggesting that the passenger likely arrived late at the pick-up point. This was a somewhat contrived example and in general we do not recommend that you allow/encourage drivers to wait for passengers who are late. This is because the lateness can cascade through multiple journeys, especially when the system is busy. That is to say, a passenger who causes a 10 minute delay has the potential to make other passengers late as well.

As such, we encourage the view that vehicles “are like a bus (or train) and not like a taxi” – a bus would not wait 10 minutes for a passenger who wasn’t ready, and – if you prioritise running the most efficient service possible – neither should your vehicles. That said, we appreciate that for some organisations, prioritising efficiency and punctuality may take on a lower importance than ensuring that everyone who has booked to travel does travel. Either way, Simply Connect is there to support your organisation and your transport operation.

What’s next?

We’ve nearly covered all the main components of Simply Connect. There is one remaining component to look at: the driver app. The driver app is generally self-explanatory and needs little explanation; however, a few points are worth briefly discussing.