Reconnecting cities through smart and intelligent transportation

Reconnecting cities through smart and intelligent transportation

With the growing population and evolving demand of people, smart cities are the new-age solution for expanding civilisation. A key part of smart cities is smart and intelligent transportation.

The demography of the world is changing and there is large scale urbanisation happening everywhere. We talk of megacities with a population of more than 10 million and then we have tried to invent smart cities. We cannot avoid this because 70% of the world GDP comes from these cities and 50% of the world population lives in cities. So we will have to see that these cities flourish but the quality of life has to increase too. We will have 100 more such cities by 2030. So we will have to do two roads to follow:

  1. To set right the existing megacities to improve life
  2. To plan the 100 more emerging cities to be better megacities – better planned and bereft of the same problems that the current megacities are going through

More importantly, we focus on health and sanitation, infrastructure, technology, water, pollution, etc but find transportation to be the last on the list of priority. And that’s the reason why we see that in some cities like Jakarta and Mumbai where we see cars move at 5 km /hr during peak hours making us feel that it’s better to walk. But walking is not possible due to the high levels of pollution.

The need of the hour is smart intelligent transportation which should be a part of the larger planning of the city and its various components. We may neglect transportation but let’s not forget that it results in loss of GDP to the extent of 3-5% so the economic damage, health hazards due to pollution, slow mobility and infrastructural breakdown.

intelligent transportation

Let’s look at the factors that are needed to plan:

  1. Make residents part of the solution. Planning on tables of bureaucrats does not incorporate solutions for problems on the ground always. Hence the need to involve the stakeholders and more importantly the consumers.
  2. Use the local innovation and startup ecosystem to find solutions to the problems, and I have experienced that the local innovators solve local problems better.
  3. Use of data intelligence to find solutions. Real-time data throws a lot of insights into the actual problems. Some of the great examples of easing traffic by analysis of data at different times. There have been instances of mobile phones being used as sensors to sense congestion and divert traffic at peak hours. So if the threshold density per km of road is 500 vehicles then after this value is reached the smart signal systems divert traffic to alternate roads. This not just eases or redistributes traffic but also gives businesses on other roads more chances of better business.
  4. The use of crowd intelligence for better transportation. The crowd is the basis of the success of transportation, and crowd intelligence includes information to and from the crowd which is the best source for spot decision making for sustained transport and traffic planning.
  5. Policymaking for better management. For example, if the congestion is due to heavy vehicles in the cities then the entry and unloading of heavy vehicles could be done in the midnight hours.
  6. Increase speed and reliability of transport by having timely public transport thereby reducing private vehicles on the roads and better connectivity and better arterial road connections.
  7. Impose congestion charges to penalise those vehicles that either do not follow traffic rules or that lead to traffic congestion
  8. Elevated transportation. Since the roads are choc-a-bloc with traffic, any new public transportation like buses, trains, monorails will need to be on elevated surfaces.
  9. Sharing mobility as a habit. Once the credibility of the public transport system is established and the responsibility of easing traffic is imbibed in the citizens the habit of sharing cars should be fostered which may be taxis or owned vehicles.
  10. Integrated use of all modes of transport. The city will need to plan the timings and frequency of waterways, road transports and air traffic for smart and coordinated transportation.
  11. Upgrading the vehicular systems to make them autonomous intelligent software that could read the current conditions on the roads and act accordingly.

Put together the Smart Intelligent Transportation of a future city is a full time planned mandatory requirement which will require 24×7 monitoring through a manned control centre which will regularly churn out data that will keep the system improving. This will lead to a better life for citizens meaning more happiness, meaning better efficiency, meaning more economic activity and a higher GDP.

(Also Read: Humanistic smart cities of future India)

(Jawahar Surisetti is a Smart City consultant and renowned Psychologist. He is also an educationist, TED Speaker, advisor to Government, start-up mentor, and a bestselling author.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Autofintechs.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)

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