Internet of Things (IoT) and Urban Transportation

Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to disrupt every sector in this world. The transportation industry is one of the significant ones amongst the others. According to a new market research report "The IoT market in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) is expected to reach $143.93 billion by 2020 at an estimated CAGR of 8.95% from 2014 to 2020".

According to United Nations, the World population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, while the share of urban population in the total population will grow from 50% to 70% and this development will increase the demand for global and individual mobility. Many countries in the world are witnessing a unique period of rapid growth in the demographics, economic, and urbanization. Today, more than 60% of the world's population lives in the urban areas, which is continuing to grow significantly. 

With population and economic concentration growing in urban areas, transport policies are compelling the Government to seek innovative IoT technology/solutions for shaping the cities existing and future transportation systems. The transformation is required to fight against pollution, congestion, collision, inadequate infrastructure relative to the growing number of vehicles, coupled with old or obsolete vehicle fleets, and outdated systems, etc. 

According to a report by World Bank, this phenomenal growth has posed a myriad of Urban Transportation challenges:

1. Rapid Urbanization

2. Increase in motorization

3. Low-quality public transport

4. Lack of hierarchical highway, road, and street systems

5. Poor non-motorized transport (NMT) infrastructure

6. Lack of Resources (People, Institutions, and $$$)

In India which is still a developing nation, the train mishaps remain a major area of concern despite all the technological developments. Although the number of accidents have significantly declined in the last ten years, the derailments have gone up by 75% to the proportion of total accidents. The Government has reported that 238 persons were killed in 2016-17 in the train accidents. Nearly, 53% of the train accidents in the last five years was only due to the derailment. The derailments are mainly attributed to rail fractures, excessive traffic and ageing and underinvestment in the rail infrastructure. 

Now in the developed nations like Singapore despite having a world-class transportation system, it is facing a serious challenge in being able to maintain a seamless and sustainable mobility. Land Transport Authority and SMRT are under tremendous pressure to address the frequent train breakdowns, which have increased by 50% since 2016. However, SMRT Corporation has attributed these Massive disruptions or longest break-downs due to faulty train, signalling faults, increase in ridership, ageing infrastructure, and supervision system. 

The authorities have been taking necessary actions to mitigate the crisis. India enters into a joint venture between Indian Railways and Japan's Shinkansen Technology to build its first high-speed train system with an investment of $17 billion. The network will run 508km between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The bullet train will bring modernization to India's colonial-era railway system through advanced technology and speed which will be groundbreaking. 

The Land Transport Authority of Singapore believes Mobility is key to the functioning of sustainable and liveable Singapore. The Government has called for tenders to upgrade and replace ageing rail assets and infrastructure to improve its rail reliability. LTA is self-assured to develop a world-class state-of-art Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) which is integrated and sustainable to meet its diverse needs of the burgeoning population. 

Singapore is the test bed for many innovations, right from Electric mobility for decarbonization of Urban transport; Shared & Green Mobility, Autonomous vehicles, ERP 2.0, Intelligent Traffic Monitoring, Smart connected cars, Enhanced traveler experience with Smarter Interactivity, Vehicle to Infrastructure communication, Intelligent Fleet management systems, Smart and Energy-Efficient Street Lighting System, and Road Safety, etc.

In spite of the all the great efforts made by the Government, there is still a huge gap in determining and in adopting the right innovative IoT solutions for building the end-to-end Intelligent Transportation System. To create the ITS, I would strongly recommend the Government CIOs to consider right and futuristic technologies such as Edge Computing Platform which will help in data analysis right at the device level eliminating the process of data analysis at the cloud which will also solve the biggest concerns of Data deluge, Data Security and Privacy. This, in turn, will save billions of $$$ in building unwanted Data centres to store the sheer volume of the new data that is being collected from all devices. Artificial Intelligence plays a significant role in decision-making capability likewise the Machine to machine learning. These game-changing technologies should be the way for developing an out-of-the-world intelligent transportation system. 

To summarize, I believe that for creating a world-class Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) which is Safe, Secure, and Sustainable the industry has first to determine the right technologies which they should invest in, as it will be integral in shaping the future of Transportation and Digitize the human existence. 

Though I haven't been able to cover all the pieces relating to this segment, I will be addressing them in an upcoming series. I have had the privilege to work with Singapore Government/Public Sector for their Smart Cities and Smart Nation Initiatives and will be sharing the challenges which they will need to address for making the Safe City and Smart Nation vision a reality.

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Rajashree Rao (Raj) is an Industry Thought Leader; Visionary for IoT/IIoT/Smart Cities, Digital Evangelist, Speaker, Writer, Mentor, and Entrepreneur. While Raj writes on a wide variety of subjects, her favorite topics are IoT Technologies, Digital Transformation, Leadership, Women's Empowerment, and 'Self.

Rajashree (Raj) has been in the industry for 17 years, having worked for SAP, Intel, and IBM managing diverse portfolios ranging from Consulting, Business Development, Sales to Large Enterprise Account Management, Channel Partner Management to Marketing & Communications. She has worked with Singapore Government & Public Sector accounts (incl. IMDA, LTA, A* Star, Mindef) on IoT, Smart Nation, and Smart Cities Initiatives.

Raj is a BCom Graduate (Hons.) from Jyothi Nivas College (Bangalore University) in Business Management and has a diploma in Computer Science - E-commerce. She enjoys international Travel & Nature, cooking, and is in the constant pursuit of the spiritual. She is also passionate about women’s empowerment and spends her free time working with women and women’s organization. She is a dedicated mentor who spends her time mentoring and coaching the young aspirants who come to her seeking guidance in their personal or professional life.

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