Smart cities in the world often resort to smart transportation solutions to help resolve related issues.Amid rapid urbanization around the world, cities are faced with various problems. Municipalities as a result are working to solve these problems to make themselves more secure and livable. Among the many issues facing metropolises, transportation ranks in the top, prompting officials to look for smart solutions to address various transportation challenges.
That was one of the points raised by Charles Huang, Deputy Secretary General of Taipei Computer Association (TCA), in a seminar held on July 17.
According to him, rapid urbanization in the world has made developing smart cities more necessary than ever. “IBM estimates that by 2050, the world population will total 9 billion, of whom 70 percent will be living in cities,” Huang said. “When all these people gather in cities, some problems in the areas of transportation, education and healthcare will emerge. How to solve these problems via smart city solutions has become key.”
He listed various components that make cities smart. These include smart government, smart education, smart energy, smart healthcare and smart transportation. Among them, smart transportation is something that’s implemented by nearly all major smart cities in the world now, including New York, Tokyo, Yokohama, Singapore, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Paris, Helsinki and London, he said.
According to him, smart transportation encompasses many components including smart parking, intelligent transportation systems, autonomous vehicles/buses, vehicle sharing and mobility-as-a-service. Most of these utilize Internet of Things devices as well as the data they produce to enable automation, efficiency and intelligence. In his presentation, Huang cited various case studies from around the world to illustrate his points.
Smart parking is an important element in smart transportation as IoT and data can help tackle the parking issue, which can be a source of headache in a city. Smart parking employs parking sensors or video surveillance cameras to detect empty parking spaces. The data is then transmitted to a backend system which then relays parking information to road digital signage boards or the user’s mobile devices. In an example Huang cited, a startup called ParkHere is collaborating with cities in Europe, for example Munich, in installing their parking sensors that are based on energy-harvesting, whereby the weight of the vehicle produces a current that activates the sensor. This way no external power source of batteries are needed.
Reducing traffic and catching those violating traffic laws have been made easier with intelligent traffic systems (ITS). Sensors, radars and license plate recognition cameras, for example, can combine to detect and recognize those speeding or running red lights, enabling municipal operators to issue tickets or make related penalty measures. Video surveillance cameras can also count vehicles passing through different areas and automate traffic light systems to better control traffic. One case study cited by Huang was Beijing, which aims to crack down on honking. In the case study, vehicles that honk will be detected by a sound recognition system, which is combined with a LPR camera to allow the police to issue tickets.
Meanwhile, the mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) concept has taken hold in many parts of the world. MaaS refers to the integration of different modes of transportation on one account, allowing the user to get them and pay for them all from their smart device. One case study cited by Huang is Whim, a service of MaaS Global based in Helsinki, Finland. According to the company, Whim is a more affordable alternative to car ownership, allowing users to take a mode of transportation according to their preference, for example taxi, public transport, car service or bike share, and pay a one-off fee or a monthly plan.
Huang concluded by saying that smart city projects present huge business opportunities for solutions providers. Taiwan, being very advanced in hardware, should now focus more on software and solutions amid this trend, he said.