Analysis
28 Jun 19

These 10 cities define smart mobility

While all cities across the globe are making their mobility systems smarter, some citiers perform better than others. The following 10 cities pave the way in terms of smart mobility applications. 

1.    Singapore

Signapore ranked first in Juniper’s Global City Performance index by earning high marks for mobility. Singapore is recognised for its policies to curb private car ownership. In addition, the city-state already launched a comprehensive plan to become the world’s first smart nation in 2014, which resulted in thousands of sensors across the island. The collected data cover about every aspect of urban life, including vehicular and foot traffic, collected in the E3A platform: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, All the Time. 

2.    London

Since London has the oldest metro system and it is Europe’s largest and most populous city, which affects commuting, the city is looking for more creative approaches than simply adding more underground lines. One is making the Tube system smarter, while another strategy is getting Londoners on their bikes. Transport for London equipped the old Tube system with modern technology, based on network-enabled sensors to optimise maintenance in costs and time. On top of that, the free wifi is used to track passengers' movements, in order to plan transport more efficiently. 

3.    San Francisco

San Francisco is known as an innovative city, as indeed it deploys various connected devices to make city transport smarter and more efficient. The SFpark project uses wireless sensors to detect parking-space occupancy in metered spaces, in order to adapt prices to guarantee the availability within certain geographic areas by encouraging people to park in less occupied zones. The project resulted in 30% GHG reductions and 30% less vehicle miles travelled. In addition, San Francisco wants to decrease the single occupancy vehicle trips by switching to transit, shared and active forms of transport modes. The launch of test drives of autonomous vehicles of Uber, Waymo, GM and Zoox can be seen as one of the smart strategies to reach that goal. 

4.    Boston

Boston has its Go Boston 2030 campaign targeting the improvement of public transportation in new employment hubs within the city. One of the incentives is the installation of digital kiosks, called Neighborhood Mobility microHUBs. These inform residents of the best public transit options at a given point in time, but they also include networked traffic signals to optimise the timing of traffic signals. Similarly to San Francisco, Boston has self-driving pilot programmes, such as the startup nuTonomoy in partnership with Lyft.  

5.    Chicago

Chicago houses the Array of Things project, which aims to turn Chicago into ‘the most data-driven government in the world’. The project won a Smart 50 Award from Smart Cities Connect and was nominated for the 2018 IDC Smart Cities North America Awards. In addition, the city has a smart lighting system to improve energy efficiency and even remotely dim lights in periods of disuse. In addition, besides collecting data, the city uses predictive analytics to improve decision-making, including concerning transportation. 

6.    Seoul

The South Korean capital Seoul has a strategic plan to become a smart city, with the embedded so-called online EV technology in its roads as its most innovative feature. This technology enables buses to charge as they are moving. In addition, the city is a leader in 5G technology, which might be seen as a precondition of the development of fully autonomous cars. Via its Open Government 2.0 policy, not only data is widely collected, but the platform tries to obtain feedback from citizens to help inform future projects as well. 

7.    Vienna

Vienna wants to become the smartest city of all, which results in various recognitions, including for its transport system. In 2018, Vienna even hosted the Transport Research Arena, which was the largest transport research and innovation conference in Europe and included a focus on how digitalisation is affecting and changing transportation systems.  The current public transit system is widely elaborated, transporting 1.3 million passengers every single day, and therefore nominated as the best performing public transport system in the world, according to the International Association of Public Transport. 

8.    Tokyo

Tokyo has a remarkably efficient public transport system, including Japan’s bullet train which can reach speeds of up to 375mph/600km/h. In addition, the Yamanote Line, a loop line around central Tokyo, is the world’s largest transport infrastructure and transports about 34 million passengers a week. Trains run every two to three minutes almost 24 hours a day. Thanks to IoT technology, operators have created an intelligent maintenance system so they never to have to reduce the closed time of the line. In addition, the Olympics of 2020 are expected to demonstrate the city’s smartest inventions.

9.    Barcelona

One of the smart mobility features of Barcelona is its smart parking system in which installed sensors measure parking availability in order to charge demand-based tariffs. In addition, a network of sensors in street lighting measures temperature, sound levels, pollution and foot traffic, in order to adapt traffic if needed. On top of that the network of connected streetlights is equipped with motion sensors to cut energy use in off-peak periods. Add its efficient public transport system, which carries over 390 million journeys a year on its metro network solely, and its network of smart traffic lights that creates a green wave for emergency services, and you see how Barcelona uses its transportation infrastructure smart. No wonder Barcelona is the host for the Mobile World Congress each year. 

10.    Hangzhou, China

And last but not least, the Chinese city of Hangzhou has a remarkable feature, called ‘the City Brain’. In cooperation with Alibaba and Foxconn, the AI project ‘The City Brain’ is dedicated to improving urban life. One of the core tasks is optimising traffic levels and identifying traffic accidents to coordinate police and emergency vehicles. Moreover, the deep-learning technology offers suggestions to residents based on its data analysis, such as warning for traffic alerts and suggesting routes. Its effectiveness is proven by the average speed of vehicles in the city, which has increased by about 15% in some of the districts. To make it even more convenient, Hangzhou introduced the virtual currency, Alipay (a product of Alibaba) which residents can use for paying parking spots through the app, which is used by 95% of the supermarkets and convenience stores in the city. 

Authored by: Fien Van den steen
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