Enabling Smart Transportation in Today’s Interconnected World

A Smart City Series - How technology is driving a sustainable economy

We kicked off this series by starting with an overview of smart city development in Asia-Pacific and the moved on to look at the importance of open data. Now we will look at another crucial element of the smart city – transport. How citizens are able to move around a city affects not only simple things, like commute times, but also has a significant impact on the social and economic dynamics of a city.

Urbanization is bringing people from rural to urban areas, particularly in developing countries, thereby burdening transportation systems. With traffic jams plaguing numerous cities throughout the world, we need to think ‘smart’ to minimize the impact of the swells in populations and car ownership, and the resulting infrastructure bottlenecks.

Building transport infrastructure alone is not sufficient; Smart transportation is key to addressing ever-growing passenger demand. Simply adding more roads doesn’t help – we need to optimize the capacity of a city – particularly in existing central business districts which cannot easily accommodate expansion.

Interconnected Transport

To deliver this optimization, we need ways to integrate the latest ‘hardware’ developments – i.e. roads and rail lines, with connectivity to the latest digital solutions and innovations. When we say ‘smart’, it’s beyond what many metros are doing today. For example, traffic lights typically are timed and programmed based on historical data with setting that only alter slightly to accommodate traffic in day versus night, rigid to set-points that do not adjust.

With smart transportation using smart flow systems, we can assess traffic flows in real time thanks to sensors and video capture, to then adjust intervals based on dynamically-calculated data to respond to medians and peaks. The algorithm used to calculate intervals needs to be sophisticated, factoring in many data sets. This swathe of data is continually shifting, being added to and feeding multiple analysis engines which must be highly connected and intelligently provisioned.

When it comes to transportation, instant response and accuracy are of the utmost importance. All data movements require connectivity to support seamless, real time data transfer and responses. Massive quantities of data, generated from many endpoints, needs to be aggregated, processed and stored at the edge, where it’s collected or created.

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication, collectively referred to as V2X, means traffic hotspots and overcrowding flashpoints can be assessed for real time analysis, so authorities and different service providers can efficiently react and make decisions. This is particularly necessary when those decisions relate to emergency response or disaster response situations. To respond immediately, respective parties need to be interconnected – for example, transportation departments need direct access to IP camera and app service providers to deliver latest traffic updates to mobile apps.

On this last point, Equinix is helping many companies in the transportation ecosystem to transmit, process and analyze data over a highly interconnected platform. For example, we work with Iguazio, which digitally transforms businesses by streamlining data volumes for real time, intelligent applications, to optimize performance in the smart transportation industry in Asia-Pacific, offering a fully managed, real time solution for high performance AI and event-driven applications. This is enabling them to help ride-hailing applications like Grab in Asia-Pacific to achieve better utilization of data and ultimately deliver a more seamless door-to-door transport service.

Interconnection is helping Asia-Pacific based ride-hailing companies to deliver high-quality customer experience with low latency, enabling proximity between users, IoT devices and cloud at the edge to maximize performance and ensure security.

In Europe, Equinix also partnered with Teradata® to provide an interconnection-first approach for its cloud-based, predictive maintenance solution. This is enabling transport providers like Siemens, to deliver real time data and predictive maintenance analysis to improve train uptime, lower costs and enhance passenger experiences.

By deploying on Platform Equinix®, Siemens re-architected its IT service management infrastructure for a digital edge by integrating digital and cloud, while optimizing rail network automation, reliability and performance.

Smart transportation in Asia-Pacific

Key markets in Asia-Pacific have realized the importance of smart transportation, and have already embarked on implementing various projects:

  • Hong Kong1 has four key strategies for smart transportation as part of its Smart City Blueprint – Intelligent transport system and traffic management, public transport interchanges/bus stops and parking, environmental friendly transport, and smart airport initiatives.
  • The Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Authority of Singapore2 announced that autonomous scheduled buses and autonomous on-demand shuttles will serve commuters in Punggol, Tengah and the Jurong Innovation District (JID) in Singapore from 2022.
  • In Australia, Newcastle City Council in New South Wales was funded AU$4.9m3 alongside its co-contribution of AU$10m4 for Smart Move Newcastle to deliver intelligent mobility, energy, and data networks. Part of this project will include a smart transportation strategy which is focused on exploring future modes of transport, as well as improving walking/cycling experiences in the city.
  • Japan’s JR East and NTT DoCoMo5 has built an extensive ecosystem of transportation operators, retailers and service providers, delivering interoperability across most of the country’s transportation systems. Japan aims to roll out its Suica Card across all train lines nationwide by 2020 to deliver a single seamless payment ecosystem for transport users.

Travel smart in the interconnected era

Smart transportation is still in its infant stage in many countries. We don’t know how long it will take us to reach our ‘Utopia’, where all systems involving transportation are interconnected with each other; that car drivers, transport passengers and walking or cycling citizens are all communicating with, data-sharing with, and benefitting from, the amalgam of analyses which can be derived from this sort of interconnected approach. That’s the near-future destination. And interconnection at the edge is how we will get there.

Reference
1 – https://www.smartcity.gov.hk/develop_plans/mobility/
2 – https://www.lta.gov.sg/apps/news/page.aspx?c=2&id=39787c15-ad56-4d1a-8ba9-4ea14860f9b4
3 – https://www.zdnet.com/article/australian-government-funding-52-smart-cities-projects-with-au28-5m/
4 – https://www.theherald.com.au/story/5063643/newcastle-wins-49m-in-smart-transport-funds/
5 – https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/deloitte-review/issue-20/smart-transportation-technology-mobility-as-a-service.html#endnote-10
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