How IoT Will Transform Transportation in 2018 and Beyond

Posted on January 23, 2018 by Kyle Connor - Also by this author

Cities like Las Vegas and many others around the world are using IoT technology to reduce vehicle congestion, optimize public transit routes, and increase safety. Photo: Tony Webster from San Francisco, Calif.
Cities like Las Vegas and many others around the world are using IoT technology to reduce vehicle congestion, optimize public transit routes, and increase safety. Photo: Tony Webster from San Francisco, Calif.

This piece originally appeared on SmartCitiesWorld.net.

Cities are racing to digitize and connect their transportation infrastructure to the Internet of Things (IoT), discovering new ways to make them smarter, safer and more sustainable. Cities like Kansas City, Las Vegas, Linz in Austria, and many others around the world are using IoT technology to reduce vehicle congestion, optimize public transit routes, increase safety, and enable faster response from emergency responders and roadway maintenance crews.

With such rapid, digital transformation happening in the transportation industry, it is exciting to think about the trends we’ll see emerge in the coming year. Considering this, I’ve formed five predictions for how the IoT will change transportation in this New Year and beyond.

  • Data will be the new oil. Typically, the extent of cities, states, and transportation agencies’ involvement with the data collected from connected infrastructures and vehicles has been storing and securing it. In 2018, we’ll see entities taking a closer look at the value of this data and finding innovative methods of leveraging analytics to create revenue streams, improve quality of life for citizens, and offset costs of new technologies. For example, if a department of transportation is deploying roadway sensors that detect fog, it can potentially sell the collected data to weather institutions or navigation systems to provide safer, more efficient travel.
  • Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) will enhance the passenger experience. MaaS, also known as Transportation-as-a-Service (TaaS), refers to the move toward mobility solutions that are consumed as a service, such as ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft, as opposed to personally owned modes of transportation. In 2018, we will see broader use of MaaS across different modes of transportation, providing passengers with a seamless travel experience — from bikeshares, to rideshares, to mass transit systems and everywhere in between.
  • Transportation agencies will uncover new revenue streams to recoup losses from fewer gas vehicles on the road. As automated, connected and ridesharing vehicles increase in prevalence, more people are moving toward MaaS and the importance of owning a personal vehicle is diminishing. This trend, coupled with the fact that more electric vehicles are hitting the roadways, means that state and local governments are gathering fewer profits from gas taxes, tolls, and other forms of vehicle-related recurring revenue that help them maintain roadways and infrastructure. In 2018, governments and their transportation agencies will look to recoup these losses and find new revenue streams by offering new conveniences and monetising the data collected through connected infrastructures.
  •  Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will solidify their roles in the connected transportation space. Just as in many other industries, AI and ML will become much more widespread in the transportation sector in 2018, enabling more automated, predictive analytics, and therefore, better decision-making. AI and ML will make it possible to predict when to deploy emergency response vehicles, tow trucks, snow plows, etc., making roads and highways safer and more efficient. For example, by aggregating and analysing current and historic weather, microclimate, and traffic data, transportation agencies can preemptively deploy salt trucks to roadways that often ice over, just before they begin to freeze. Or, they can predict when fog is likely to appear on hyper-local sections of roadways and warn drivers. These types of predictive decisions, powered by AI and ML, enable transportation to move with fewer disruptions, keep costs down, and ensure safer travel.
  •  Transportation agencies and governments will expand their partner ecosystems to drive greater adoption of connected technology and create new internal roles. As more implementers of connected transportation technologies are discovering, it is impossible to pursue a project alone. In 2018, agencies and departments will bring in new partners, such as consultants, academia, systems integrators, third-party vendors, and more to create teams capable of deploying technologies that impact roadways and citizens’ lives. In addition, we’ll see more city and state governments create a new role of Chief Innovation Officer to spearhead many of these initiatives.

Transportation is where smart cities are likely to see some of the most innovative and disruptive use cases involving the IoT. From the wealth of valuable, new data being gathered from both infrastructure and connected vehicles to the trend of moving away from private vehicle ownership, to the growth of AI for predictive decision-making, the coming years promise to bring many fascinating developments in the ways we travel around our cities and beyond. I, for one, am excited to see how these trends evolve.

Kyle Connor is a Transportation Industry Principal with Cisco (www.cisco.com).

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