Smart – and Safe – Cities
As the country continues to open, new ideas are constantly emerging on what transportation will look like in the Post-COVID world. Some predict a significant increase in the use of single occupancy vehicles, backed by recent data that shows that used car sales have spiked during the pandemic. Recognizing that it is not feasible for everyone to drive to work or school, Apple and Google announced a collaborative effort to assist in enabling contact tracing for those taking mass transit. Google also started using crowdsourcing and traffic information to provide information on mass transit occupancy and availability. For those who are able to bike or walk to work, cities like Oakland, California have plans to close more than 70 miles of roads to automobile traffic as part of their Slow Streets initiative.
Fully realized, a smart city is leveraging data from smart devices across all facets of its community.
One thing in common for all of these efforts is the technology necessary to collect, manage and make information available to employees, workers, students. This is core to what is classified as a “Smart City”. Fully realized, a smart city is leveraging data from smart devices across all facets of its community. Everyone loves the vision of being a smart city: more efficient processes, better response times and a more proactive approach to planning for the future of all their citizens. But few are ready to achieve that vision today, so we need to modulate what success looks like. Keep in mind, you don’t need to have a plan to incorporate Internet of Things (IoT) and real-time data collection and analysis into every process in your community. Make it easy, choose one to start and iterate from there.
When thinking about Smart Cities initiative or expansion, consider safety as a major component of what you want to provide. When it comes to transportation, today All Traffic collects volume and speed data for more than 100 million vehicles per month. Leveraging data from TraffiCloud, we conducted an extensive analysis of a handful of communities that we serve and found that the overwhelming majority of drivers are still responding to speeding signs. In fact, in some cities, we have seen average speeds decrease along with the decrease in traffic volumes.
In a recent survey ATS conducted through Parking Today, 83 percent of respondents indicated “Demand for parking has been down” as one of the biggest challenges. We feel you. The number two challenge was “Communicating new rules and guidelines with parkers in real-time”. There was also an overwhelming majority of efforts focused on contactless solutions. ATS has partnered with many organizations to provide portable signage which can be accessed remotely to display public safety messages to reinforce social distancing, reminders to wear a mask and other ways to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Being a full-fledged smart city does not happen overnight — it takes careful planning and implementation of carefully vetted technologies and solutions. But, if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to dabble. Take one small step toward being a smart city, revel in your accomplishments — and then take the next step.
Andy Souders is the CEO of All Traffic Solutions. He can be reached at email@example.com