It sounds like the city of dreams.
Imagine connected vehicles sending data about traffic and road conditions to city managers. City managers could then adjust lights and signs to improve flow, reroute cars to less congested roads, or reduce traffic in sections of the city to improve air quality. And these dreams are quickly becoming a reality.
These technological advances require partnership and infrastructure investment. Integrating connected vehicles into the city means engaging government, citizens and technology partners—especially vehicle manufacturers, operators and communications providers. This partnership depends on sharing and trust, breaking down barriers between stakeholders and focusing on the benefits rather than the technologies. Innovative thinking will be needed for citizen engagement as well as for business models.
Connected vehicles can provide a wealth of information. For example, accelerometers can measure both speed and bumps, allowing cities to predict potholes and monitor traffic flow. To maximize the potential of these solutions, cities can combine information from vehicles with data from other sources, such as pavement detectors and video analytics from smart intersections.
Connected vehicles depend on communications and infrastructure investment
Basic connected vehicle technologies emerged over 20 years ago, but the lack of widespread communications infrastructure and software systems limited the value they could provide cities and transportation departments. The last decade has brought many improvements to data speeds and the hardware—both embedded and aftermarket—required to connect vehicles to the internet. One of the most important innovations is the advanced software used to harness and analyze vehicle data to provide valuable and actionable insights to cities, businesses and consumers.
To jump-start innovations in communications infrastructure, Ford partnered with Autonomic in 2018 to create a new open platform called the Transportation Mobility Cloud (TMC). This platform enables cities to build a communications infrastructure that supports the sharing of data in real time. TMC is capable of connecting the diverse components of urban mobility systems, such as smart vehicles, bike share programs, traffic lights, connected parking spaces and other transportation services via a common platform that can be used across city agencies.
"Using connected solutions to make city streets safer and more efficient is an easy way for cities to start integrating technology," said Lani Ingram, former vice president at Verizon.
New vehicles and software applications are making it easier for cities to gather, store and analyze data, creating innovative ways to solve common problems.
One barrier to reaping the full benefits of connected vehicles is the silos between different government agencies and their technology partners. Agencies and their partners tend to view data and related infrastructure as private assets. Cities will need to establish policies at the outset for securely sharing data across departments, monetizing the data, and identifying those responsible for privacy and data security.