The growth of cities raises a range of social, economic and environmental challenges, putting pressure on infrastructure, natural systems and social structures. However, as the challenges of urbanization intersect with ICT-driven opportunities, solutions emerge with the potential to improve the lives of billions.
“Just as the railway shaped London and highways shaped Los Angeles, ICT has emerged as a transformative force, shaping the form and role of cities around the world,” says Colin Toh, Head of ICT Infrastructure in Transportation.
ICT is emerging as a gateway to civic engagement, enabling citizens to become more involved in local planning decisions, and forcing municipal authorities to think more like service providers. Smart cities – those that embrace the Networked Society and openness – turn to ICT and data-driven approaches that increase their efficiency and boost their sustainability. Smart cities also attract and empower a more creative, innovative business culture.
Transformation on the move
A major area of transformation is transport. As mobile technologies allow greater levels of interconnection, data from vehicle-based sensors can be aggregated with that from fixed infrastructures, such as traffic lights and cameras. Armed with big data analytical solutions, public authorities become more capable than ever before, not only in long-term planning, but also in making dynamic changes to traffic flows and public services.
Furthermore, crowdsourcing of private data and exposure of public transport data by transport authorities has created a growing digital marketplace for transport-related apps.
Rethinking urban transport
ICT is also driving more fundamental changes to people’s attitudes to transportation and private ownership, shifting the emphasis from ownership to access. And one of the most exciting changes in transportation is the automotive industry’s push toward autonomous driving.
“Just a few years ago, the driverless car was regarded as something out of science fiction,” Toh says. “But today, many major automotive manufacturers have autonomous vehicles on their agenda.
“And some thought-leading players are taking the next step, beginning to shift their business models from one of selling cars to one of providing mobility services.”
The potential impact of transformed urban transport is profound. In Europe alone, traffic congestion costs EUR 130 billion per year, and road transport makes up 20 percent of the continent’s total carbon dioxide emissions. The human cost is even greater, with roughly 1.3 million road casualties worldwide per year – a number that is expected to rise considerably if current conditions persist.
The sum of these changes – fewer private vehicles in use – also has great benefits for business. With less congested roads and a decentralized distribution network (also enabled by ICT), business transportation becomes cheaper and more efficient.
Partnerships driving change
Ericsson plays an important role in all of these changes, leading transformation through our expertise in mobility, broadband and the cloud.
“In our Intelligent Transport Systems, for example, we connect the transportation system with ICT Infrastructure, monetize with Transport Transaction, and innovate with Traffic Management,” Toh says.
“ICT in transportation is about ecosystems not ego-systems. We partner across industries, with manufacturers, public authorities, private operators and even smaller, nimbler ICT players.
“An autonomous and interconnected transportation ecosystem could greatly reduce all of the current transport-related burdens and create many environmental, social and economic benefits for future generations.”
Watch the video: Meet our Experts: Colin Toh – Mobility as a service