How Smart Transportation Will Improve City Life
Waiting for the bus, sitting in a traffic jam, commuting to work in general – often the urban transportation experience isn’t particularly fast, clean, or safe. You may already feel that your city is bustling, but with the world’s population increasing by 1 billion people every 12 years or so, tomorrow’s scale and density will mean a whole new level of bustling – and congestion.
Urbanization & the Rise of Cities
Today cities are expanding into incredible sizes and have a tremendous amount of resources under their control. And urbanization is on the up – 2007 marked the first time that more of the world’s population lived in cities than rural areas, and by 2050 an estimated 7 billion people will live in cities.
One example of what the cities of the future will evolve into is the place I live – the Pearl River Delta in China. The currently independent cities of Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Huizhou, and Dongguan are beginning to merge to form a megacity of about 50 million people. Districts will connect to each other with a complex transportation network comprising roads, bus networks, metro systems, and ferries.
If we look at what megalopolises will be in the future, we can expect phenomenal complexity in transportation systems. So:
- How will local authorities coordinate all the types of transportation more efficiently?
- How fast can we respond if a component fails?
- Can we predict problems in the future to prevent any failures?
Late for Work Again
The backbone of a city is its economy. Sharing information, products, and skills in cities quick, and efficient, but one of the primary factors impacting development is not stimuli from the government or well-designed policies – it’s road infrastructure.
The time a daily commute takes is a critical factor in defining quality of life. In the UK, researchers found that the negative effects of an additional 20 minutes commuting per day has the same effect on job satisfaction as a 19% pay cut. Indeed, many people may choose a job with fewer opportunities if it’s easier to get to. Better public infrastructure means happier workers and more economic benefits – studies show that happy workers are 13% more productive. And commuting seems to be a big part of that.
With busier roads and metro systems, the costs of delays increase exponentially both in monetary and quality of life terms. Existing roads cannot be expanded, and so the only solution is to ramp up efficiency, with a system that relies on real-time data coming from all roads to optimize traffic flow.
So let’s define what opportunities exist for enhancing public transportation infrastructure.
In the ideal smart city, the road, the metro railway, and cars can monitor themselves, predict problems, and avoid them without impacting other infrastructure. However, the “smart road”, “smart metro”, or “smart port” is not possible without IT as an enabler. Real-time data coming from street cameras, sensors, and meters can help us to better understand where we’re moving in the longer term, as analytics software detects trends over time and suggests solutions.
The Solutions that Build Smart Transportation
In collaboration with experts from different areas, Huawei’s intelligent transportation solution for cities comprises several components:
IVS (Intelligent video surveillance): video cameras with cloud AI that generate alerts on problems at a neighborhood level.
Smart parking lots: sensors that feed data to an app for a simple location of available spaces.
Read more: Building Smart Cities with Smart Connections
Smart public transport stops: bus and metro stops with Wi-Fi, panic buttons, cameras, digital signage, and connected rubbish bins.
Connected buses: intelligent passenger vehicles with automated ticketing, video screens, and connected cameras with embedded analytics of passenger behavior and always-on connections to bus company offices and police stations.
Light rail and metro communication solution: the link that securely connects the train and the ground at any speed from a legacy tram to maglev.
Shared cars and bicycles: the public use of transportation tools in a more responsible way. Oversupply of shared bikes in China, for example, in the past few years led to huge amounts of abandoned bikes, creating an urban eyesore, blocked sidewalks, and “bike graveyards”.
Monitoring of critical transport infrastructure: a solution for managing traffic lights, vibration detection for bridges, and control for roadside utility hole covers.
Environmental monitoring: autonomous metro stations with air quality sensors to combat one of the most significant urban development problems – air pollution.
Connected harbors and airports: to create a more efficient and safe operational environment as well as to simplify the communications.
Connected drones: for inspecting roads for minor defects or detecting changes in the landscape over time.
Electrical charging infrastructure management: solutions in this domain can help to use more solar energy as well as to spot on the map available charging stations in the proximity.
V2V (vehicle to vehicle) communication: as a means to helping safe and efficient commuting, one example is platooning mode for public transport and cars, where cars form a row with only the first is driven by a person. The others follow automatically, minimizing safety risks, fuel consumption as well as labor costs.
Autonomous Vehicles: millisecond latency connectivity for taxis with sensors on the roadside to signal changes in environment.
Connected fleets: trucks or buses with a tracking system that collects statistics regularly and locates the vehicle in the case of emergency.
Large-scale computing centers: for processing and analyzing the volumes of data like those coming from sensors, cars, pictures from drones, the video signal from cameras. They should be kept in secure space and processed in real time for immediate response.
Real-time analytics (big data): often there is only a fraction of second to make a life-and-death decision on the road. The big data processes all the bits that come from the streets with the shortest delay.
Control center for the public road infrastructure: for city managers to take control over the city arteries, to estimate the efficiency of policies or predict costs and planning.
Command center for road police officers: serves as a central hub where all the information flows for prompt coordination of all resources and direct action command and control.
Blockchain database: The database coordinates the work of insurers, car owners, traffic police, car rental companies, potential buyers of the cars, environmental protection body, maintenance shops and other stakeholders. It introduces an open and trusted data format for all parties.To create a self-organized, efficient and safe transport system several vendors are to join forces due to the extreme complexity and importance. Huawei contributes with its wired and wireless networks, cameras, cloud data centers, and conference rooms. These technologies form a cornerstone for any large-scale deployment.
The best way to initiate the digital city deployment is by setting up a robust network infrastructure with enough capacity for future service expansion. That will not only reduces the time of new implementation in the future, but also simplify the management of all IT systems.
Our home city can be the best place in the world to live in, with its education, healthcare, jobs, and recreation. To give equal access to all these opportunities for city dweller, the transportation system should reflect the need for faster and more predictable transfer. It is not only about our jobs, as we all heavily dependent on how fast ambulance, fire engines or police cars can come when we need it.
Read more about Huawei’s smart transportation solutions.
Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.