Advanced Transportation Initiatives Require Dynamic, Data-Enabled Mapping Systems

Interactive, data-integrated maps can help residents, visitors and city planners by putting all transportation resources into a single, easy-to-access hub of information. Such maps make cities smarter and easier to navigate.

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Image of a city map and a phone with the Uber app opened
Illustration: © IoT For All

It’s safe to say that improving transportation is a priority for most, if not all, municipalities. By 2050, two out of every three people are likely to be living in cities or other urban centers, according to a 2018 United Nations report. Rapidly changing trends in individual transportation—electric bikes, car shares, scooters and concepts like Elon Musk’s high-speed tunnel system, are changing the way people move.

Smart Transportation System

The challenge is how to make all of these transportation options available to city residents and visitors and easy to use. Advanced transportation initiatives and projects, particularly fast-moving ones like e-scooters, require advanced mapping systems that can keep up and help both municipal transportation professionals and the public maximize the benefits of the options available for getting around.

Every municipality is interested in improving transportation, making it easier for residents to move around efficiently. Digital maps with wayfinding capabilities can play a critical role in presenting transportation options—putting everything that a city has to offer into one easy to use platform. Below are some of the ways a digital map can help simplify and transform transportation within cities.

Ride Sharing

Ride-sharing has changed the way people drive—especially in cities. The sharing economy, peer-to-peer platforms that provide access to shared goods and services, is estimated to be a $335 billion industry in the US by 2025, and the millennial generation is driving most of this growth, according to Forrester Research.

People living in urban areas know they have options aside from outright car ownership. Ride-sharing and vehicle-for-hire services are changing the way people get around. Zipcar, Uber and Lyft are available in all major cities.

With an interactive map, Zipcar pickup and dropoff locations can easily be displayed with. Designated pickup and drop-off spots for Ubers and Lyfts can be set and updated at popular locations such as airports, sports complexes or event centers.

These applications can be extremely helpful during major events in urban areas, where crowds of people are gathered for a convention, parade, sporting event or other reason. The map can be rapidly updated with a special event overlay, showing all of the available transportation options, closures and other needs.

Scooter and Bike Sharing

Driving and walking are no longer the only options for getting to and from work, especially with the growth of e-scooter sharing and bike-sharing.

A dynamic map can display all of the e-bikes and scooters available throughout the city, as well as pickup and drop-off locations. Once at the pickup or drop off location, people can use the map to find the best routes to get to their final destination.

Public Transportation

Aside from these transportation sharing options, municipalities are focused on increasing the use of public transportation. But, schedules and routes of buses, shuttles and above and underground trains can be overwhelming and frustrating for even the savviest city dweller.

Digital maps that have GIS integration and wayfinding capabilities can help simplify the use of public transportation. With a smartphone, map users can quickly find the nearest train station or bus stop, when the next bus is scheduled to arrive and point-to-point wayfinding instructions for how to get there.

Additionally, city workers can use these maps to send out alerts to the public about any changes to the schedule, breakdowns or emergencies, with estimated times and alternative routes.

Parking

Parking in an urban environment can feel almost impossible at times – with the constant circling around the block looking for an open parking garage, street parking or even free parking. Drivers spend an average of 17 hours a year looking for parking, adding up to an about $345 per driver in wasted time, fuel and emissions.

Digital maps can have different types of parking highlighted for user ease. Additionally, municipalities can go a step further and use digital maps to track open parking spaces across the city. By using RFID tags or other sensor tracking systems, parking availability within a garage or a paid meter on the street can be tracked and then visualized on a map.

Construction

Urban areas are already congested, and construction amplifies this. Construction can be identified on a digital map with up to date information on how the construction may affect traffic patterns.

When it comes to transportation, cities are definitely getting smarter – using interactive maps integrated with dynamic data pipelines can help residents, visitors and event city planners by putting all transportation resources into a single, easy-to-access hub of information.

Written By Jennifer Gombeski, Account Executive at Concept3D.