In a world of 7.6 billion people and more than a billion vehicles on the roads, urban infrastructure is taking hit after hit. Traffic accidents, congestion, air pollution—challenges keep piling up along with the rapidly increasing demand for transportation. Since cutting down on vehicles’ usage is not feasible, cities in 2020 opt for a different approach.
Smart transportation aims to optimize the way we deal with mobility. It combines the Internet, wireless technology, and electronic devices to make urban travel more sustainable and efficient.
What Is Smart Transportation?
Smart transportation, by definition, is an approach that incorporates modern technologies into transportation systems. This includes cloud computing, wireless communication, location-based services, computer vision, and other tools to enhance mobility.
To better understand how smart devices changed transportation, consider the role traffic lights play on the road. The simplest version of this technology operates on timers and helps avoid collisions. Simultaneously, smart lights equipped with sensors and appropriate processing algorithms detect commuters nearby and cycle through the lights accordingly to make the transit faster and safer.
The idea behind smart transport systems is to weave a network that connects vehicles, humans, and the city’s infrastructure itself. According to the BIA Communications survey, 83% of responders agree that intelligent mobility systems are integral to smart cities. As the Internet of Things grows, smart transit will propel the transformation of urban infrastructure forward.
Smart City Transportation Solutions
Intelligent transportation systems must work as a whole to achieve the best results. However, each of the building blocks of any smart transit network is vital for its overall success and has a massive impact on road conditions.
Connected cars are a critical unit of any smart city. They rely on the so-called vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) type of communication. Connected cars share data about surrounding congestion and other cars, road incidents, and various connected devices in the nearest vicinity, such as parking sensors. In short, this technology helps work with the constant and dynamic flow of information on the road.
These vehicles have communication channels for drivers and alert systems to warn pedestrians of approaching cars. Connected cars are so promising, experts predict there will be more than 233 million of them globally by the end of 2020.
MaaS solutions treat transportation as a product. They strive to make mobility services more comfortable and accessible by gathering the various vital elements of a person’s trip in one interface. These typically include booking services, ride-sharing, instant payments, bicycle- and car renting, and different route options.
Autonomous cars are still a long way from being truly independent of a human driver, but the progress in this field is rapid and promising. Driverless vehicles have the potential to significantly decrease congestion and accidents on the roads. They will also provide faster and cheaper transportation, encouraging people to utilize taxis and public transport instead of private cars.
These include contactless payment in public transport, dynamic navigation, real-time traffic tracking services, and so on.
The Main Benefits of Smart Mobility
Smart transport systems worldwide are working towards enhancing the safety and quality of life for everyone in urban areas. Overall, intelligent mobility’s main benefits include better safety, accessibility, and sustainability of transportation systems.
The whole framework of intelligent mobility rests upon the optimization of transportation. In the long run, electric vehicles combined with decreased congestion lead to reduced carbon dioxide emissions and more mindful energy consumption. The infrastructure also becomes more supportive of sustainability by making public transport effective for getting from one point to another as private cars are.
Many road incidents these days occur because of human error or insufficient data about one’s surroundings. Smart transportation can help reduce the influence of these factors. Driverless cars, semi-autonomous helper systems, and connected cars are likely to broaden the communication channels between commuters and provide technological aid where human senses tend to fail.
Intelligent mobility in each city must include the needs of all people who wish to use the transportation system. Seamless transit and building a route, and paying for transportation via a single mobile app can greatly help increase the quality of life for those with disabilities. Various hearing and speaking aids and accommodations for wheelchairs, service animals, and other special items also represent irreplaceable parts of a smart transportation system.
Examples of Intelligent Transportation Systems
The transition to intelligent mobility is already improving road conditions in multiple places around the globe.
For instance, in Singapore, commuters can use a mobile app to order a driverless shuttle and reach the train station, erasing the need to use a private car. The same idea stands behind the orthogonal bus network in Barcelona, focusing on providing connectivity and intermodality. Everything from trip planning services to smart indicators installed at parking lots, leading drivers to empty parking spots, aims to smooth the transit process and minimize delays.
Smart Mobility Systems and Their Impact: Recap
Intelligent transport systems make use of all the available information regarding the vehicles’ surroundings. They enable people to improve parking efficiency better. They also increase the safety of transportation by integrating autonomous systems and providing drivers with direct communication channels.
The demand for smart transportation has been growing steadily over the years. In 2020, the global migration to the cloud and the emergence of vehicle-to-vehicle technology are finally bringing intelligent transport systems to life.