Smart Transportation

IoT in Transportation: Benefits, Challenges, and Uses

Internet of Things (IoT) devices in transportation are already a big business. The IoT transportation market was worth $135 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow to $328 billion in 2023. IoT devices are deployed in traffic congestion control systems, in telematics systems within motor vehicles, in reservation and booking systems used by transport operators, in security and surveillance systems, and in remote vehicle monitoring systems.

Read on to learn how IoT is transforming the mobility economy, enabling new efficiencies and empowering city governments, transport operators and commuters. 

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IoT and the Future of Transportation

The Internet of Things (IoT) can change the transport industry by transforming how transportation systems gather and make use of data. IoT is the networking of objects via embedded sensors, actuators, and other devices that gather and transmit data about real-world activities. Objects may include household appliances, mobile devices, vehicles, and structures. 

The benefits of IoT for transportation authorities

  • Enhanced traveler experience: With improved customer services, dependable transportation, and accurate communication. 
  • Increased safety: Sensor data tracks, for example, train speeds, aircraft part conditions, roadway temperatures, and the number of cars waiting at an intersection. Authorities use this information to improve the safety of transit system operations.  
  • Reduced energy use and congestion: Organizations use real time data to better scale resources and meet demands. They can react quickly to evolving traffic patterns, and take action to optimize traffic impact on the environment, use of fuel, and regional economic competitiveness. 
  • Better operational performance: Cities can monitor critical infrastructure and develop efficient processes to minimize operating costs and improve system capacity. 

Challenges in IoT deployment

  • Security: As the number of sensors and network-connected devices grows, organizations must implement processes to protect sensitive data and networks. Organizations should ensure that all IoT devices are compliant with their security policies. For example, they may enforce encryption, device authentication, or user access control. 
  • Extended network infrastructure: Organizations will need to manage more IP addresses, work with larger data volumes, and manage more complex IT infrastructure. Data outputs of IoT solutions increase as more automated workflows and controls are added, and networks should be able to scale to accommodate.
  • Onboarding: Large IoT systems use thousands of sensors and devices, and it is infeasible to manage all of these endpoints manually. Automated onboarding lets the IoT platform recognize devices, allocate them to the appropriate network, and enable governance and visibility during the device lifecycle.

Use Cases of IoT in Transportation

Here are a few examples of IoT solutions that are helping the transportation sector improve outcomes for cities, transport providers, and commuters.

Connected cars

Today cars typically rely on connectivity and are a key part of the IoT. Typical modern vehicles are equipped with Internet connectivity, sensors and actuators, and over 50 microcomputers running in excess of 100 million lines of code. Connected car technology systems can monitor the brakes and engine, control tire pressure and control exhaust gas composition.

Vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication technologies may soon help you reserve parking spots and stream diagnostic data to your vehicle service center. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technologies, backed by high-speed in-vehicle networks, radar, and cameras, will let cars detect each other, prevent collisions, and help promote smooth traffic flow. 

Connected car technology uses a network of antennas, sensors, embedded software, and communication technologies to make accurate, timely decisions. 

Vehicle tracking system

Vehicle tracking systems are typically used by fleet operators for tasks like routing, fleet tracking, dispatching, on-board information, and security. While vehicle tracking systems have been in existence for a while, IoT has brought it to the spotlight. 

An IoT-based tracking system can capture driver behavior such as idling time and driving style. Modern vehicle tracking systems can monitor fuel, temperature and loads, integrate with RFID or biometric technology, and put all this data at the fingertips of fleet operators. 

Examples of IoT-powered functionality include:

  • Trip scheduling
  • Driver authorization 
  • Alerts for speeding, route deviations, harsh cornering, acceleration or braking
  • Real-time alerts for fuel theft
  • Monitoring of vehicle load
  • Turnaround time, distance traveled, and mileage

Public transport management

IoT technology is becoming common in public transit. Connected public transport systems offer the following benefits: 

  • Real-time vehicle tracking: The IoT lets authorities track the location of their vehicles. Authorities can install GPS systems on their vehicles, deliver location data to a central command center, compute accurate arrival times, and stream them to passenger mobile devices or electronic signs at transit stops. 
  • Unexpected events: Road maintenance, weather, and emergencies can affect public transportation. The IoT lets authorities re-route vehicles accordingly, and update passengers. Transit agencies can alert commuters in real time via their mobile phones.
  • Personalized travel information: Transit agencies can identify individual travel patterns and see which station and routes commuters prefer. Authorities can notify commuters ahead of time, if a station closes or a vehicle is re-routed.

Traffic management

Cities can collect information from Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) feeds and transmit vehicle-related data to city traffic management centers. This can be combined with data from smart parking sensors, smart traffic signals, and smart accident assistance. A few applications of IoT-based traffic management include:

  • Smart parking: IoT-based sensors in parking lots can provide real-time information about vacant parking spots for cars.  
  • Traffic lights: Traffic lights that rely on real time data feeds are being used to improve traffic flow. Sensors placed strategically can use IoT technology to collect data about high traffic junctions. Big data can analyze this information to provide drivers with alternative routes and improve traffic signals.
  • Road-side lights: Smart lights can use environmental sensors to increase or decrease illumination according to current light conditions. 
  • Smart assistance: CCTVs and sensors on roads can help identify accidents and emergencies and relay their location to emergency teams.

The Value of IoT for Transport Ecosystems

IoT empowers persons and objects in the transportation system, helping them make informed and automated decisions to improve traffic flows:

  • Commuters can better decide which route to choose, when to travel, when to take public transport instead of a car. 
  • Transit operators can better plan and route public transportation according to actual commuter needs and traffic conditions.
  • City governments can decide where to construct new roadways, how to prioritize maintenance, and where to invest in new mobility options.
  • Vehicles, roads, traffic lights and street signs can automatically adapt to changing conditions to assist drivers, improve safety, ease congestion and reduce pollution.

Across the transport ecosystem, the IoT can create new efficiencies and improve outcomes for all stakeholders.