Urban Transport & Future Mobility Zones

Urban Transport & Future Mobility Zones

Re thinking and re shaping the way we move in and around our cities.

Pressure to build complex, high capacity road networks, managing frameworks for the building of new offices blocks and apartments and trying to accommodate a rapid increase in the number of commuters have all challenged the resources of cities around the world.

All modern cites are now trying to re shape their transportation systems in order to reduce traffic congestion, improve public transport and encourage walking and cycling as alternatives to the daily car commute.

A new generation of planners, government directives, concerns over health and environmental issues, combined with increasing demand for higher quality urban living are starting to change the agenda.

Smart cities of the future will prioritize pedestrians, cyclists and public transport over vehicles and there will be a drive to deliver linked and segregated pedestrian access coordinated with effective and highly integrated local / city public transport.

Getting commuters to abandon their cars in favour of walking, cycling and public transport will become an essential objective of any city planning scheme. Finding plausible and attractive alternatives to cars will require comprehensive planning, imaginative foresight and immense cooperation across all city departments.

Mobility as a service is high on Smart City planning schedules, where the integration of various modes of transport along with information and payment functions into a single mobility service are being developed.

Recent services that allow customers to purchase monthly subscription packages giving them access to public transport, private taxi hires and bike hire schemes are such examples. Public transport or mass transit, as well as newer models such as car-sharing, bike-sharing and ridesharing, are all types of shared mobility.

It is clear that making fundamental changes to City transportation, access and mobility is a major undertaking.  It requires political support, extensive cross sector cooperation and a huge commitment to make things happen.

However, increasing environmental concerns and regulations mean that change is no longer a choice. So where and how do city planners get started?

Using IoT technologies to support the business case and implement Smart city initiatives.

IoT technologies can provide real time and accurate location-based data from the City streets.  By implementing specialised sensors in key locations highly relevant data can be gathered before, during and after project initiatives are undertaken.

This gives planners an opportunity to test ideas and model scenarios before major infrastructure commitments are made.

IoT is just one set of tools at the planner’s disposal but one which delivers the accurate, time stamped data essential to building a fact-based business case.

IoT sensors can provide the ‘eyes and ears’ required to count, measure, monitor and verify key aspects of city life and movement around the city These include:

  • Pedestrian flows and footfall counting
  • Cycle counting on existing roads and designated cycle ways
  • Vehicle counting
  • Passenger counting on public transport
  • Pollution monitoring of NO2 / CO2 levels.
  • Integration with secure payment & verification platforms.

Data is captured and transmitted in real time enabling planners to build up accurate reference data before during and after infrastructure investment.

This data can be:

  • Analysed within a sophisticated data base
  • Presented via an easy to comprehend GUI
  • Used to generate reports & presentations
  • Provide financial & business case modeling.
  • Shared among multiple stakeholders
  • Compared with data from other Cities & projects

Putting IoT technologies at the core of any major City transport & citizen mobility infrastructure initiative ensures accuracy, facilitates effective decision making and provides a means of verifying the return on investment of any project. 

Identifying the key building blocks of a Smart City alternative transportation & citizen mobility strategy.

Any effective, modern city transportation & citizen mobility strategy must consider and have reliable data to qualify the following:

  • The current layout of the City and its transportation networks
    • Roads, business districts, residential areas, public spaces, public transportation stops.
    • Congestion levels & where they need to be reduced to meet government guidelines
  • The profile and commuting habits of the population
    • How are people moving around?
    • What are their issues and concerns?
    • What are the numbers & frequency?
    • What would be required to bring about improvement.
  • Identification of obvious zones / logical segregation
    • Business districts, retail, public spaces & residential areas
    • Can these be linked via traffic free methods?
    • Where are the commuter & pedestrian hot spots?
    • Proximity of related zones/ facilities/ access
    • Near future & long-term land usage trends.
  • Implications & impact of re-routing roads
    • Short term impact versus longer term gain
    • Identify alternative routes & solutions (e.g. park & ride)
    • Identify possible cycle ways and pedestrian only routes
  • Public transportation
    • Current options, station locations & infrastructure
    • Relevance and effectiveness
    • Actual Usage levels
    • Changes that will be required to support the wider plan
    • Let the transportation authorities know what is planned early.
  • Cost / benefit modeling
    • Every proposal must include valid data to support the return on investment case
  • Public health & safety requirements
    • Lighting, barriers, security, disability.
  • Tackling noise pollution.
    • As well as improving air quality, the transition to zero emission  & quieter electric vehicles should cause cities to become quieter.

Key considerations in developing an alternative transport & mobility strategy

  • Establish a city-wide task force to agree goals and objectives.
    • Any scheme will require strong leadership at the highest level and the support of key stakeholders from a variety of departments and authorities.
    • Establish who has decision making authority and who needs to be consulted.
    • Establish how data will be shared and communicated.
  • It is essential to understand the current situation, existing planning activity already underway and overlay this into a high-level plan.
    • Ensure the task force see the big picture and the component elements / challenges ideas are proposed.
    • Gain consensus and establish a base data set upon which to measure success.
    • Create a master plan and grand design to show what is possible and project the vision
  • How & where will you obtain accurate data- before & after?
    • Planning developments existing and already authorized
    • Citizen input – surveys / public meetings
    • Pedestrian activity / footfall / cycle counts
    • Vehicle counts / pollution measurement
    • How will this data be shared across stakeholders?
    • Use the technology that is available, where possible.
    • What technology is available and has this been fully evaluated?
  • Proceed cautiously
    • Be realistic about what can be achieved.
    • Have a grand plan but break it into manageable projects
    • Consult and undertake research surveys
    • Look at what other cities are doing
    • Plan, evaluate & test assumptions before full roll out
    • Use pilots where possible.