Many governments across many countries have tried to develop solutions to address traffic congestion, yet commuting continues to lengthen in most of urban centers. The increase in urban residents and creation of sub-urban areas are causing complex movement of people within and between cities as well as excessive commuting. It’s time for a new approach. Rather than analyzing “how many” and “how often” cities should be able to know “where do these people come from”, “where are they heading to” and “why are they there”? Geospatial technology is central to providing a technology platform that forms the backbone of a city — real-time geospatial data provides efficient mobility to the citizens and enables better city governance through traffic forecasts, better asset monitoring, best route planning, and public transport updates enabling smart transportation system i.e. Smart Mobility.
Smart nations, Smart mobility
The arrival of on-demand ride services like Uber and Lyft, has already changed how people get around. In The Netherlands, Beter Benutten (Optimising Use) ITS promotes smoothening of traffic flows on the road network. Adding ‘intelligence’ to mobility has reduced door-to-door travel times. Cars, lorries, public transport vehicles, bicycles and emergency services will communicate with one another as well as with traffic lights and other beacons and sensors. Cooperative ITS offers various opportunities, including the option of intelligent junction design. This involves a system that provides information to the junction about oncoming traffic, including details about the type of vehicles and their destination. The system may respond by extending the green time if a heavy lorry is heading for the junction to reduce braking and accelerating. This will help in avoiding extra emissions and promote smoother traffic flows.
In Finland, HERE has started work on a three-year pilot to devise a road hazard warning system. It’s the first pilot that meets the requirements of the European Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) directive using an LTE mobile network. HERE has also published an interface specification that defines how sensor data gathered by vehicles on the road can be sent to Cloud, an important effort to create a standard by which automakers can share data securely.
Continuing to build its reputation as a world leader in smart mobility, including autonomous and connected vehicle research, Ohio is investing $15 million to install advanced highway technology along the Smart Mobility Corridor, a 35‑mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 in Central Ohio. This stretch of highway carries roughly 50,000 vehicles per day and covers both rural and urban environments. Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) says, that the data collected will help improve traffic counts, weather and surface condition monitoring and incident management procedures. “Data collected on this corridor will allow automotive innovators to test and refine jobs – creating technologies that are going to help move people and products more safely and efficiently than ever before,” said Jerry Wray, Director, ODOT.
Aforementioned few projects shows that developed nations are already inspired by the disruptive technologies and are ushering in an exciting new age of smart mobility. However, the scenario in developing countries is not that rosy!
The bumpy ride
Rapid urbanization has resulted in traffic congestion, which has caused a negative impact on the society. People residing in urban areas in India according to the 1901 census, was 11.4 percent. This count increased to 28.3% according to the 2001 census and crossing 30% as per the 2011 census. It is expected that by 2050, 75% of the population will shift to urban centers. Transportation networks in most of the urban centers are highly packed, and any small interruption may result in traffic congestion for a long period, causing inconvenience.
Sreeja Arunkumar, Expert, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Ltd. India, says, “In the vision of connected world, poor road quality is a challenge especially in developing countries. Autonomous passenger cars might be far-off but autonomous trucks for logistics in a controlled environment can be thought of.” The opportunities are immense. To digitize every road in India, data should be available at right time. “Crowdsourcing has emerged as an effective tool. It must be encouraged for smart mobility and city. And also there should be willingness amongst the people to share the data otherwise it won’t happen.”
Adding the example of Singapore Land Authority portal she explains, “GIS has evolved over the years. Singapore’s Land Transport Authority uses GIS-based LandNet to analyze traffic and roadway conditions. LandNet makes it possible to view multiple types of spatial data-such as road lines, cadastral lots, landownership, and utilities data-using a Web browser.” In Singapore, the GIS-based Land Information Network (LandNet) acts as an online GIS data warehouse for government agencies. This spatial data-sharing portal, created by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), propels interagency information sharing to a high level by providing a real-time data exchange platform.
Dr. Niraj Prakash, Director Solution Consulting, Oracle, India highlights the legislation, “We need to look at traffic rules and civic discipline otherwise whatever good is happening in the world won’t come here in India. Prioritization of initiatives and government has a bigger role to play.” He added, “Crowdsourcing is a good idea. Also, if people are given incentives, they will share more data.”
Evolution of mobility
There is a major evolution of transportation and mobility, driven by the convergence of a series of industry-changing forces and technologies. Disruptive technologies are changing how companies develop and build vehicles. Electric power vehicles tend to offer greater impetus for lower energy investment at lower emission levels. New, lightweight materials enable automakers to reduce vehicle weight without sacrificing passenger safety
There will be about 200+ million connected vehicles by the year 2020. This translates into huge data collection by sophisticated sensor suites on wheels that can be used to create various data products. Autonomous vehicles will be on the major converging force transforming the mobility sector. “The data collected by autonomous vehicles can be used to create sophisticated global models on various parameters such as traffic flow, accurate roadway maps, etc. Automobile accident hotspots can be analyzed and repaired, traffic flow information can be used for civil infrastructure planning such as highway or flyover construction or route optimization. Imagine a map showing all the potholes on the road and the ability to accurately measure each pothole in real-time so that the roadway infrastructure can be quickly fixed,” says Akshay Bandiwedkar, Product Manager, Swift Navigation.
There are fast developments in the ‘connected car’— innovations that integrate communications technologies and IoT to provide valuable services to drivers. Vehicles outfitted with electronic control modules and sensors that enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications can proactively suggest re-routings to avoid road hazards and call for assistance in the event of an accident. Simultaneously, younger generation is settling toward a model of personal mobility consumption based on pay-per-use rather than upfront purchase of a capital asset.
The mobility sector is on the thresholds of a major transformation. “Smart mobility can only come through the integration of different technologies and geospatial technology has a very crucial role to play. Because each of these factors has a ‘where’ component, which only geospatial can provide,” underlines Prakash.
Anandh Venkatraman, Director – Head of Digital Transformation & Applications, Dell EMC, India, feels that geographies plays an important role. “In a country like India, where there is myriad landscape, a region specific solution becomes a must. Moreover, we need to have forum to bring different mobility players. And of course government has to play bigger roles.”
The equation is clear: there cannot be a Smart City without Smart Mobility and no Smart Mobility is possible without the prioritization of initiatives, support of authorities & people and optimum use of technologies, to be specific geospatial technologies.