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Siemens today launched a new business that will use sensors and software platforms to help improve rail operations.Known as Siemens Digital Rail Services, the new business unit aims to "put intelligence behind billions of data points created on the country's rail systems," Siemens officials said in a press release.Insights gathered from the data are expected to help U.S. rail operators improve operations and create an "Internet of Trains" to bring infrastructure and vehicles into the digital era, according to Siemens.The business unit is a part of the Siemens Mobility Division, which provides solutions for rail and road transportation.The city of Atlanta and the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) are among the first transportation providers to work with Siemens to use Big Data to improve operations and safety.In Atlanta, the Siemens digital services team will collect information captured via on-board systems from the Atlanta Streetcar and analyze data points to make the best use of the fleet. Meanwhile, CATS is working with Siemens on a pilot program for near real-time diagnostics and analytics of its light-rail system data. The data is expected to help the agency make prescriptive maintenance recommendations. "Today, rail vehicles send between 1 [billion] and 4 billion data points per year and rail infrastructure can send billions of messages just inside a specific system," said Simon Davidoff, head of Siemens Mobility Digital Services in North America. "With our digital services business, we're taking not only experience from our global rail footprint but also our extensive company-wide digital expertise to turn billions of data points into action, including the ability to detect malfunctions well before they can cause problems and information that helps improve arrival times and punctuality for riders."