The terms for the smart city are numerous – smart city, digital city, green city, connected city, eco-city, sustainable city. What are the features of a smart city? The ITU-T Focus Group on Smart and Sustainable Cities agreed on the following definition:
“A smart sustainable city is an innovative city that uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social, environmental as well as cultural aspects”.
Today, over 50% of the world population lives in cities or suburbs. By 2050, it is expected that this will rise to 70%. The consequences are serious. Cities already generate 70% of greenhouse gas emissions related to energy consumption. Imagine their role on climate change in 2050. The major trends are forcing us to rethink mobility planning.
What is smart mobility?
Digital and interactive city facilitate the collection and dissemination of information in real-time through applications, sensors or modelling tools to manage urban flows (e.g., traffic, pollution…). The new digital technologies will contribute to route optimizations for citizens by allowing them to combine or share several means of transportation such as car, tram, bus, or bike.
Smart mobility aims to create more reliable and secure movement to optimize the time, budget and comfort of our movements. It includes several business areas – automotive, roads and railways, public transport, telecommunications…The most visible aspect of smart mobility is now around the smartphone. The mobile phone provides traffic information on your routes to your destination, or on means of transportation available at any time of day.
Technologies behind smart mobility
Websites and mobile applications for smartphones bloom to facilitate the movement of citizens in the city. Now mobile phone has become the personal assistant for mobility. It will soon allow every user to manage the complexity of the journey through a wide choice of transport modes such as carpooling, car sharing, cycling and use of public transport. These published transportation data sources in combination with real-time data and geolocation, offer information for commuters to discover the nearest parking for auto drivers and bikers, and provide comprehensive information on buses, cars, subways and trams (e.g., lines, schedules and preferential paths).
Behind these applications, there are telecommunications, information systems and sensors in the pavement, or surveillance cameras along the highways. Your smartphone can track and send your location to a centralized database so that transportation agencies may know your travel speed and what mode of transportation you use. This data will be further analyzed and shared by agencies, and the transportation system users can use this information to optimize their route movements.
Smart mobility for smart cities
For cities, the biggest challenge to manage mobility is to integrate different modes of transportation, such as rail, car, bicycle and walking, in a single system that is convenient, efficient, accessible, affordable, safe and environmentally friendly. City governments also need to optimize infrastructure and energy consumption, and provides their citizens exactly the mode of transportation they need, where and when they need them.
In some cities, electric mobility such as monorail or subway systems has been perfectly integrated. For future smart sustainable cities, we will see more and more electric mobility at ground level (e.g. electric vehicles). Electric vehicles will have a great future, despite a slow start with ongoing problems over battery capacity, weight and cost. These elegant design to mobility solutions support the urgent changes that must occur in our thinking – traditional modes of transportation to transportation electrical joint.
Autonomous in future mobility
Autonomous cars will completely transform the future urban mobility, either for person or goods transportation. For now, the law is still fragile, and it will take a little time before they are fully democratized. All major manufacturers around the world have promised to produce at least one business model within the next five years, and Uber also plans to manufacture its own autonomous car. It is said that within the next decade, “cars drive themselves, not only on motorways, but from your house to the office or shops, to see friends or just to escape the kids for some peace and quiet. All typical driving environments will be covered, and cars will be able to negotiate not only traffic lights, but junctions and roundabouts as well.” (Thatcham)