Wednesday, 23rd October 2019

Smart city travel – what can we expect?

According to the UN, 68% of us will be living in urban areas by 2050. It’s vital therefore, we have the right infrastructure and services in place to support the needs of this growing urban population. By Safa Alkateb, CEO of Autocab.

Smart city development is well under way around the world. Barcelona, for example, has been deploying such initiatives since 2012. Smart technologies have helped the Spanish city with waste management, street lighting and public transport, among other day-to-day necessities.

These smart city initiatives have created a buzz for both businesses and the general public with the obvious potential they have to transform how we live and work. Their success has been fuelled by the advancement of AI and IoT technology and will be further boosted by the roll-out of 5G. These technologies will have a major part to play in making everything tick.

Among the many areas set for change, one key part of the smart city puzzle will be our transportation network. Today’s roads and public transport would struggle to cope with the extra demands that we can expect to see in future. But plans are already well underway to make our networks more integrated and intelligent enough to allow passengers to travel both safely and smoothly.

Data becomes gold

Data is the future currency for our smart cities – it will provide us with insight and will inform our technology decisions and investments. With data at our fingertips, we’ll be able to make public services more sustainable and improve the quality of living for citizens.

In the realm of transport, real-time information sent through connected devices will enable services to run intelligently. Operators will be able to analyse traffic data and waiting times, for example, before sending live updates to passengers via their mobiles. Traffic flow will improve too as vehicles can be rerouted should there be an incident on the roads.

With this future reliance on data, it’s vital that we start collecting the information we need now to put foundations in place. Among today’s transport players, taxi firms are the ones leading the way in this respect. Cloud-based booking and dispatch software that many firms use already tracks how, where and when people travel. This is information that we can feed into smart city initiatives to help city planners design mobility solutions for the future.

Take your pick

While many of us currently rely on private vehicles to get around, this trend is set to change. Efficient and easily accessible public transport will mean more people will opt to take the bus or train to cover part, or all, of their journey. And the ability to travel by private transport will still be there, should we wish to use it.

Public and private services will come together in a new model, known as mobility-as-a-service, or MaaS for short. This will lead to a variety of services available on-demand, meeting all our travel needs. Whether we’re on the daily commute or taking a leisurely trip around town, our end-to-end journey should become seamless and personalised.

Powered by technology

One of the key components to efficient smart city travel is, of course, the technology. Intelligent technologies will provide connectivity, benefitting both service operators and the passenger, who will have a complete view of the network.

Sensors will connect autonomous vehicles on our roads to their surroundings through IoT technology. This will inform us of the latest traffic conditions and enable us to make adjustments to services where necessary.

A high-speed 5G network will also underpin our infrastructure. It will enable us to easily transfer the vast amounts of data, improving efficiencies and keepingeverything running smoothly.

As technology develops, so too will the possibilities within our smart cities. We’re only seeing the beginnings of what is possible – it looks set to be an exciting future of travel for those living and working in in our future urban environments.

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