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Wednesday , 17 August 2022

Optimizing Travel Efficiency with Technology

IBM is talking about smart traffic applications, availability of traffic information at the touch of the button and laying infrastructure like parking sensors. But are they sustainable business cases? What are the revenue streams?

New Delhi will be among the initial set of Smart Cities in India to adopt advance traffic and transportation system. The best part with Type A cities are economically self-dependent. Traffic volumes ,population spread  and well connected transport network always support the investment required.  When 1st  phase of metro rail started its operation in Delhi, the question often raised was whether it will be sustainable , as there was not much traffic. The actual problem was the metro rail network was not adequate to pull in the traffic. Today with more than 180km metro rail network, Delhi metro has become the major service provider to carry INR 2.7 million people every day. More the number of people using these facilities, more funds will be available to carry out ongoing operations and maintenance of such projects.  Place where the population density is less to cater to enough traffic for the public transport, the TOD (Transit oriented Development) business model works..This helps to make the project sustainable and suitable for continuous revenue generation.

 

Globally people are talking about two approaches for ‘Smart Cities’. One is a top down, government driven approach while the other is a bottom-up, citizen driven approach. Cities like Amsterdam and Rio de Janerio have uses a bottom-up approach. Which one do you think India should adopt?There is a green-field and brown-field cities. In operational cities, brownfield cities, implementing a smart city is difficult, especially in India. The reason is that we operate in silos in India, government departments do not work in a coordinated manner. Even the government has understood the challenge; it is looking at every city holistically and then converting them later into green cities. In Rio De Janeiro (Brazil) IBM was able to convert the city successfully into a smart city because the entire city was managed through a single Mayor whom we could approach on all issues. Decision on all issues such as Public Safety, Energy and Transportation issues were taken by one entity – the Mayor.  The same model can be replicated even in New Delhi by the NDMC because everything is being managed by a single entity.Thus we have to go on a case-by-case basis. In situations where there is a single authority taking decisions, it is better to use a top-down approach, while in the other cases, where there many government departments working in silos, a bottom-up approach, or rather an approach in which we have to go from department to department and finally converge, convert and integrate everything on a collaborative platform.  The system has to be designed taking into account these facts and then all the individual silos can be hooked up together.

 

You spoke about adopting these technologies in the 100 new Smart Cities. Instead of adopting this technology in new cities, could we use/implement the same in existing cities like in Delhi or Bengaluru?

We are already in discussion with many government agencies/authorities. For the city roads, the traffic police is taking the lead  for implementing ITMS (Intelligent Traffic Management system) but unfortunately it is at the initial stage. For public Transport – City bus, BRT  and Metro Rail decision are taken by State Road Transport corporation, municipal Corporation and Metro rail corporation respectively for  Intelligent Transit management system.  Since there’s no single entity responsible there difficulty in having synergy for implementing City wide Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). We have seen ITMS failure during the Delhi Commonwealth Games However with all limitations, hopes  the capital – New Delhi is best suited to adopt smarter transportation technology.at the earliest.

 

In some of the European countries and US, getting real time information about traffic is very easy. Whereas in countries like India this is generally not so. One can see the state buses or inter-state buses are never on schedules. So how are you going to leverage your application in the Indian scenario?

We need to leverage our best and high volume sensors – Our citizen or active travellers. Today people are to be considered as the best instrument to rely on. Enable and empower them. Today the young crowd is participate through various social media. We can also empower them with strong but simple mobile applications. IBM has experience in implementing a smartphone application for one of the Brazilian cities based on six parameters/ conditions The user had to just click the pictures based on the set five-six parameters and send those images to us. In less than three hours, we managed to map the entire city with the help of this application. If the user gives us information like this, we are not going to validate or mask the information because it is geo-specific supported by images.

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