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A Vision of Smart Transportation for India's Smart Cities


In only a few years, we may well be able to realize our dreams for a hundred smart cities in India. These cities would be responsible, responsive, and visionary. They would achieve this through reliable and efficient transportation facilitated by mobile apps, big data, sensors, the Internet of Things, and the "Smart" applications of technologies and processes.

Enabling connectivity between civic facilities, transportation assets, and devices can allow these changes to take shape. As municipalities leverage information and communication technologies, we can imagine a future not very far away from where we live in cities with extreme connectivity and augmented urban services in terms of transportation, utilities, and energy.

In fact, intelligent mobility- connected and sustainable multi-modal transport may be at the heart of a smart city.

Smart city transportation challenges and opportunities

If public transport is made accessible and robust through shared mobility, citizens will be able to choose it over private transportation options for their commuting needs.

Let's explore the challenges and opportunities in smart mobility:

Connecting vehicles to their surroundings

We can use a wide variety of applications, services, and technologies to enable the connection between vehicles and their surroundings.

Get warned about a jam in your path and take another road- it's possible when your vehicle is connected with the traffic light that can sense congested areas nearby.

A connected vehicle will include communication devices- embedded or portable- which enable in-car connectivity with other devices in the same vehicle.

The connected vehicle also needs to be able to interact with other vehicles and 'things' that are external. The applications of doing so include infotainment, parking assistance, telematics, remote diagnostics, traffic safety, and support, autonomous self-driving vehicles, and more. Possibilities are still emerging -the technology exists. Now it's up to those with the imagination to make things happen. 

Using Electricity to fire up mobility

Tesla's electric car models are perhaps the most talked about in this regard. According to InsideEVs, Tesla Model 3 was the top-selling plug-in car in Canada for September 2018. In the USA, Tesla is reported to have outsold some iconic luxury car brands in recent time periods. The Tesla model 3 also happens to be the safest car according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Electricity-powered cars present a uniquely synergistic opportunity for smart city initiatives as they reduce pollution and open avenues to explore efficient resource utilization for a more responsible generation and a greener future.

Smart Parking Facilities

Parking solutions can help optimize the limited parking spaces in urban localities while providing an efficient way of parking cars. Smart parking solutions can help ensure smoother traffic flow and less congestion.

Companies around the world are working toward making parking systems sustainable and useful as per city plans. That's an idea whose time has come in India too and we need solutions that are specific to our urban centers.

Smart stations

Smart stations are the transit hubs that bring together a wide variety of transportation services to help visitors commute. These can be used as centers for deploying autonomous, connected vehicles- cars, taxis, and urban freight. These can also become centers for urban renewal and community spaces.

Driver and vehicle monitoring

The connectivity of both the vehicle and the driver to the internet opens up a unique opportunity to monitor them in real-time. By doing so, any anomalies in vehicle health can be identified before it does any damage.

Moreover, driver performance and safety can be taken into consideration- allowing for faster reaction in cases of incidents on the road. This can also drive more intelligent and specific services like tailored insurance premium quotes driven by the driving habits of the individual.

Weather analysis and routing

An intelligent transportation system can help you leverage data about the weather forecast and plan your travel efficiently. The vehicle driver can gather information about various routes and the subsequent climate conditions to define an ideal travel route that avoids delay and hassle. As can be imagined, this could prove a boon in our nation of extreme weather conditions.

Mobility on demand

Using information present in the data management ecosystem, a smart city can have an app and interactive kiosks that integrate the private and public mobility providers. Then, people can choose the best option for them, based on their needs and get the right vehicle delivered or be routed to it. The future may not be dominated by personal vehicles.

Security as a challenge

More research and analysis has to go into ensuring that these provisions of convenience don't harm the security of data or citizen privacy in any manner. When we talk about the Internet of Things, we often say there is enough data, but less understanding of it.

The availability of data simply means there is more of what malicious attackers can use. A major challenge for implementing smart city solutions will be to make sure the security is as stringent as without all that connectivity.

Urban Density as a challenge

Multi-modal mobility options attempt to solve the issue of high urban density that often disrupts traffic management. This system offers access to various modes of transport via a single interface such as a mobile app. Mobility-as-a-service can be used to integrate the first and last-mile connectivity seamlessly.

The increasing penetration of mobile phones, coupled with the proliferation of digital technologies, can help offer innovative transportation solutions to contribute to the adoption of MaaS.

Connected vehicles as the foundation of a smart city

The latest IDC smart cities spending guide highlights that smart city-based spending will reach $189 billion by 2023. According to the study, the priority areas today include resilient energy, infrastructure projects, data-driven public safety, and intelligent transportation.

These priority areas will account for over half of the entire global spending for smart cities throughout the 2019-2023 forecast.

In order to make intelligent mobility viable, feasible, and cost-effective, it's clear that the best brains will have to get to work to find out solutions to the most pressing challenges and create prototypes that can be tested in reality.

Let's brainstorm the future of Smart mobility as without smart mobility, a Smart City will be but an impossible dream!

(KPIT SParkle's sixth edition is an opportunity for you to shape meaningful mobility solutions for the future.

We invite industry and academia to brainstorm the Mobility & Energy solutions of tomorrow. This platform is for students of undergraduate, post-graduate, and Ph.D. courses from the Science, Engineering, Management, and Design streams across India.)