Smart Transportation

An Introduction to Smart Transport

The smart transport revolution is taking the world by storm. Consumers have more transport options than ever before and entirely new ways to discover and consume transport services. Businesses have access to new, global markets for transport and route optimization services. City governments have new opportunities to incentivize green, efficient modes of transport, to reduce congestion and improve the quality of life.

In this article you'll learn about:

What Is an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS)?

An Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) is an effective transportation and mobility system used in smart cities. It takes advantage of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics to manage traffic and mobility, enhance transport infrastructure, and provide improved interfaces for transport services. The ITS market is growing, expected to reach $40 billion worldwide by 2024, according to Grand View Research.

Benefits of an ITS include:

  • Creating interconnected transport systems with open communication between devices and vehicles.
  • Actively managing traffic, helping public transport to keep on schedule. 
  • Ensuring citizens have access to real-time information about traffic and public transportation conditions. 

How ITS Works

An ITS has four main components: 

  1. Traffic data collection: The system uses devices such as GPS devices, road cameras, and vehicle identifiers to gather information in real-time. They collect information about the location and speed of vehicles, and traffic conditions. 
  2. Data transmission: ITS transmits the data collected by the sensors to a management center where is analyzed and forwarded to applications. 
  3. Traffic data analysis: At this stage, the cleaned data is customized for further analysis, then sent to end-user interfaces. 
  4. Traveler information: Finally, the information is made available to citizens, who can access it via the radio, web browsers, or text messages. This data informs citizens about traffic and helps them plan optimal routes. 

To learn more, see the full article on Intelligent Transport Systems.

How IoT Is Changing the Future of Transportation

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the transport industry by integrating technical and business mobility trends, data analytics, and automation. IoT connects objects via embedded sensors, actuators, and other devices that collect and transmit data about real-time network activity. 

IoT Use Cases

The goal of each transportation solution varies according to the use case. For instance, public transit systems aim to improve rider experience and safety. Other examples of solutions serving the transportation sector today include:

  • Connected cars: Cars today rely on connectivity, with each vehicle use the internet with over 50 microcomputers to monitor the brakes and engine, control the tire pressure and exhaust gas composition. New technologies such as Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) and Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) allow users to reserve parking spots, prevent collisions, and promote smooth traffic flow. 
  • Vehicle tracking system: Typically used by fleet operators for tasks like routing, fleet management, dispatching, on-board information, and security. The IoT has improved their performance including the ability to capture driver behavior to minimize idling and stopping time. Modern vehicle tracking systems monitor fuel, temperature, and loads. 
  • Public transport management: IoT technology is commonly used in public transit management systems. It offers benefits such as real-time vehicle tracking, factoring for unexpected events (bad weather, road closure), and provide personalized travel information. 
  • Traffic management: Smart traffic management relies upon parking sensors, smart traffic signals as a complement to the traditional video surveillance, to overcome traffic congestion. 

To learn more, see the full article, IoT in Transportation: Benefits, Challenges, and Uses.

On-Demand Transport

The on-demand economy is a new paradigm in which economic entities provide on-demand services to others. The modern economy is fuelled by a demand for instant gratification. It aims to provide an immediate response to the demands of the consumer, by bringing opposing parties in the supply chain closer together and building transport infrastructure around the customer experience.

Thanks to the Internet, consumer behavior has changed, with convenience becoming a critical influence on purchase decisions. A central part of the on-demand economy is on-demand transport services.

What Is On-Demand Transport?

Consumers in the digital era demand prompt service. Online ordering for cabs, car hires and other modes of transport are the norm nowadays. On-demand transportation apps can process payments instantly and give consumers access to a car, e-scooter, or bicycle in minutes, using nothing more than their mobile phones.

With the proliferation of mobile devices and applications, more people are choosing on-demand transportation services. Some of the trends becoming popular are:

  • Ride-hailing: An online platform connects passengers in need of a ride with nearby drivers heading the same way. Rides are booked via an application. 
  • Car sharing: Private car owners rent their car to other people through an app, allowing any visitor or resident book a car for a few hours. 
  • Ridesharing: People who seek one-way rides can find available seats offered by drivers going in the same direction. An online platform provides ride-matching software connecting car owners with passengers. 
  • Carpooling: Rides are exchanged between family and friends who take turns using their cars to transport the group. Employees use this system to share rides to work as well as parents taking turns to transport their children. 

To learn more, see the full article about On-Demand Transport and the Rise of the On-Demand Economy.

Smart City Transport

A smart transportation system can make a big difference to the way passengers commute in dense urban areas, saving costs for municipalities, and providing better and safer service to city residents. 

What Is Smart City Transport?

Smart city transport is the use of electronic, wireless, and Internet technologies to provide access to smarter, safer, and faster travel between two points in a large city. It provides city authorities with rich information and control over traffic flows. 

Cities who wish to become a smart city often start by deploying a smart transport infrastructure, in the form of an Intelligent Transport Network (ITN). An ITN includes: 

  • A Public Transportation Management system.
  • A route information system and electronic timetable.
  • A safety and vehicle control system.
  • A single fare card.

Benefits of Smart Transport

Some of the benefits of smart transport for cities and communities include:

  • Improved quality of life: More accessible and efficient public transportation reduces expenses and improves the quality of life for city residents. 
  • Reduced pollution: Smart transport relies heavily on environmental policies, such as promoting the use of public transport. This reduces private car usage, reducing emissions. 
  • Improved public transport safety: Monitoring and tracking of the public transportation network can help respond quickly to incidents and emergencies. 
  • Mobility marketplace: The increase in passenger traffic creates a demand for mobile transportation apps, which help people consume transportation services across the city. 
  • Smart parking solutions: With the help of sensors, security cameras, and Internet connectivity, cities can reduce the problem of parking in congested urban areas by sharing data about available parking to consumers via mobile apps. 

How to Implement a Smart City Transportation System

The process of implementing smart city transport can take years. However, cities can start with a few steps, installing some smart transport capabilities to set the foundation for a full plan. 

We can divide the plan into three phases, starting with transport optimization based on available information, continues with the implementation of lightweight infrastructures, such as route optimization, and ends with heavier infrastructure, such as advanced vehicle tracking. 

To learn more, see the full article on How to Build a Smart City Transport System

Integrated Mobility

City populations are growing exponentially, aggravating urban challenges like congestion and pollution. Integrated mobility is a systematic approach to solving these issues, combining physical infrastructure and city planning with technology. This approach leverages intermodal transportation, allowing passengers to combine several modes of transport. For example, a passenger might want to rent a bike to a train station, travel by train to another city, and then order a taxi to get to their final destination.

Integrated Mobility Benefits for Smart Cities

Multimodal integration promotes social growth through greater access to education, healthcare and economic opportunities. The availability of additional, convenient transit options also acts to reduce private car ownership. Other benefits of integrated mobility include:

  • Economic: Providing people with better access to their activities.
  • Environmental: Efficiently using public space and reducing car usage to provide more green spaces and reduce pollution.
  • Reducing traffic congestion: Promoting public transport reduces the need for private vehicles. 
  • Commuting flexibility: Passengers can use cloud platforms and apps to organize their end-to-end journeys, book trips, and vehicles in real-time, paying electronically. 

To learn more, see the full article, Integrated Mobility: The Transport Solution for Tomorrow’s Cities

Smart Transportation in Cities Around the Globe

Smart transportation involves creating connected, flexible, and efficient transport systems. Smart mobility is a key factor in the transformation of cities in smart, helping visitors and residents have a better quality of city life. 

Many cities around the world have started implementing mobility-related innovations, such as integrated mobility platforms. Examples include:

  • Copenhagen: The Copenhagen Connecting project involves tracking connected devices and using the information collected to optimize traffic, reduce congestion, and air pollution. Copenhagen has also deployed a Smart Grid Sensor Platform, leveraging cheap wireless devices that collect millions of data points about current city conditions. 
  • Barcelona: The city has deployed a platform that adapts street lights to real-time traffic conditions, offers smart transit services, smart waste management solutions, and more.

On-Demand Mobility in Cities Around the World

In Europe, cCompanies like Beat, UbiGo, and Mobility Mixx offer a range of mobility services, from taxis to car rental and carpooling. 

In the US, aside from the huge popularity of services like Uber and Lyft, a governmental Shared-Use Mobility Center promotes collaboration in shared mobility, including bike sharing and ride-sharing. Micro-mobility initiatives across the US help transport low-income residents to job hubs. 

In South America, several on-demand taxi and private car hire companies have started operations. One of them, 99, is the first Brazilian startup valued at over $1 billion.

To learn more about smart transportation initiatives around the world, see the full article on Smart City Mobility.

Smart Transportation Trends Transforming Today’s Vehicles

Given the exponential growth of eCommerce, the demand for shipping and efficient transport methods is on the rise. Many studies show that shipping is a prime concern for consumers, and improved shipping options have a major influence on online purchasing decisions.

However, the transport industry faces several challenges. The American Trucking Association estimates that the shortage of drivers will reach a deficit of 170,000 drivers by 2026. Another issue is the shortage of warehousing space. To overcome these challenges and improve efficiency, organizations are turning to new transportation technologies. 

Some of the trends transforming today’s transportation industry include:

  • Hybrid electric trucks: Besides their electric engine, these trucks implement technologies such as brakes that convert kinetic energy into electricity.  
  • Hybrid electric buses: These combine the traditional fuel engine with an electric propulsion system, which is cost-effective and reduces emissions. 
  • Autonomous vehicles: Several cities are implementing autonomous vehicles as a new public transportation option. Such vehicles are already operating in London’s Heathrow Airport, and the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.  
  • Delivery robots: Many startups are launching robotic delivery services, especially in the USA. One such company, Starship Robots, has started deliveries in California. 
  • Delivery drones: Cargo drones are a last-mile solution still in development. Giants like Amazon are still testing their own fleet of drones, to deliver to rural areas. 
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems: An ITS can manage traffic lights, toll booths, bridges, and roads, distributing transport efficiently. It gives citizens real-time data about traffic and public transport. 
  • Artificial Intelligence in logistics: Machine learning algorithms help logistic providers find the optimal route and the right mode of transport for specific shipments, and even forecast demand. 

To learn more, see the full article, Supply Chain Transportation Trends: Disruptive Smart Vehicals and Innovative Big Data Systems

Learn More About Smart Transport

There’s a lot more to learn about smart transport. To continue your research, take a look at the rest of our blogs on this topic:

Smart Transport Systems: An Intro

Every city needs effective transportation and mobility system. In smart cities, this takes the shape of an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). ITS is used in traffic lights, car parks, toll booths, roads, and bridges. It is also used to create interconnected transportation systems with open communication between devices and vehicles. ITS can actively manage traffic so it flows smoothly and public transport arrives as scheduled.

Read more: Smart Transport Systems: An Intro

Smart Traffic Systems 101: Components, Benefits, and the Big Data Connection

Many cities today are using smart traffic systems such as smart lights, sensors, and detectors. As city populations grow, efficient transportation becomes critical for quality of life, economic productivity, and the environment. Smart traffic systems are an easy way to improve all of these, without requiring large investments in physical infrastructure.

Read more: Smart Traffic Systems 101: Components, Benefits, and the Big Data Connection

Integrated Mobility: The Transport Solution for Tomorrow’s Cities

Integrated mobility is a term used to describe a process where mobility providers collaborate and promote their travel services as one unified service. It is about combining transportation options together so they can be accessed by commuters as part of a package. Integrated mobility enables passengers to create an intermodal trip and use several modes of transport to arrive at their destination.

Read more: Integrated Mobility: The Transport Solution for Tomorrow’s Cities

Vehicle to Vehicle Communication

Vehicle to vehicle communication helps vehicles create an internal wireless network and transfer data over that network. Each vehicle can send reports about traffic and road conditions, vehicle position and speed, route direction, and loss of stability and brakes if these occur. This article describes how V2V technology can reduce accidents and enable autonomous vehicles, via ad-hoc networks connecting vehicles and road infrastructure

Read more: Vehicle to Vehicle Communication

Traffic Management Systems: Optimizing Traffic With Existing Infrastructure

Advanced traffic management systems are a vital part of urban renewal and road expansion projects. In many cases, investments in smart mobility projects can have a larger return than new road infrastructure. City officials should prioritize smart traffic technology and make sure they have exercised this avenue for reducing congestion, before embarking on long, complex road expansion projects.

Read more: Traffic Management Systems: Optimizing Traffic With Existing Infrastructure

On-Demand Transport and the Rise of the On-Demand Economy

Consumers who embrace digital platforms demand prompt service. They don’t want to wait for a taxi if they can order one online. They can even schedule it for the moment you’ll be at a specific location. On-demand transport like ride-hailing, car sharing, car rental, and bike-sharing can give you access to a transport service through your smartphone.

Read more: On-Demand Transport And The Rise Of The On-Demand Economy

Smart Road Technology: Paving the Way to the Future

Smart roads use IoT devices to make driving safer, more efficient, and greener. Smart roads combine physical infrastructures such as sensors and solar panels with software infrastructure like AI and big data. Smart road technologies can generate energy, improve visibility, monitor road conditions, communicate with autonomous vehicles, and more.

Read more: Smart Road Technology: Paving the Way to the Future

Self-Driving Car: Levels, Benefits and Constraints

A self-driving car is a vehicle that can operate with little to no human assistance. Self-driving cars are equipped with technologies that can create an image of their surroundings and navigate traffic. There are five levels of automation. Each level describes the autonomous capabilities of the car and the type of interaction between the car and the driver.

Read more: Self-Driving Car: Levels, Benefits and Constraints

IoT in Transportation: Benefits, Challenges, and Uses

The Internet of Things (IoT) can change the transport industry by transforming how transportation systems collect and process data. The benefits of IoT for transportation include enhanced traveler experience, increased safety, reduced energy and congestion, better operational performance, and more.

Read more: IoT in Transportation: Benefits, Challenges, and Uses

Traffic AI: A Real-Life Use Case

The term traffic AI refers to applications of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in traffic systems. Traffic AI systems collect and analyze traffic data, generate solutions, and apply them to the traffic infrastructure. This article explains how AI-enabled traffic management solutions can help address urban issues such as safety, pollution, and congestion.

Read more: Traffic AI: A Real-Life Use Case

Urban Transport Systems: Challenges and New Directions

Traditional modes of urban transport and infrastructure cannot support the demand for mobility in today’s cities. Transport routes have turned into a complex puzzle, one that can only be solved with big data, smart algorithms, connected vehicles, and strong collaboration between the private and public sectors. This article reviews seven critical problems with modern transport systems, how to measure their improvement, and how smart transport technology can help.

Read more: Urban Transport Systems: Challenges and New Directions

Technology in Transportation: Economic and Social Impacts

The future of the global smart transportation market is getting closer. Delivery drones, flying taxis, hyperloops, and other futuristic technologies are in development stages and will soon be integrated into smart city transportation systems.

Read more: Technology in Transportation: Economic and Social Impacts

See Our Additional Guides on Key Mobility Topics:

We have authored in-depth guides on several other mobility topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of smart mobility.

Smart City Initiatives Guide

Learn about the growing trend of smart city projects, including new urban developments and initiatives to retrofit IoT and ICT solutions into existing cities.

See top articles in our smart city initiatives guide:

Smart City Technology Guide

Discover how smart cities are leveraging technology to improve services and living costs. See how IoT and Big Data form the base of the smart city model.

See top articles in our smart city technology guide:

Smart Mobility Guide

Smart mobility is the reorganization of new and existing transport methods to reduce fatalities, reduce congestion and pollution, and improve the urban economy.

See top articles in our smart city initiatives guide:

Travel API Guide

Learn about travel APIs that can assist travelers in planning and booking their trip—Global Distribution Systems, flight APIs, hotel APIs, and car rental APIs.

See top articles in our travel API guide:

Travel Technology Guide

Travelers are no longer willing to tolerate long lines at the airport or rely on paper travel guides. They want travel to be as easy as any other modern service. Travel providers understand this and are working to make travel a seamless digital experience, allowing customers to explore and book travel at any time using any device.

See top articles in our travel technology guide: