By TJ Costello, Global Director for Cities, Communities, and Transportation at Cisco
With anticipation building for autonomous vehicles, buzz around ultra-high-speed transit options, and the growing presence of transportation devices that have an ability to communicate with each other, technology is fundamentally changing the future of mobility.
Throughout history, mobility has been an important driver for societal development: enabling economies to boom by facilitating faster, more reliable trade, higher standards of living, international investment, and larger globalised business operations. The future of transportation is set to deliver all of these outcomes and more. As the world becomes increasingly connected, so do transportation assets and devices, empowering communities and citizens around the world.
Arguably the most eagerly anticipated development in the transportation industry is the self-driving or connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) which, despite perception, is set to increase passenger safety across multiple transportation modalities. Trains could very well be first out of the gate as fully autonomous forms of transportation. And the rail industry is making important strides toward driverless and eventually, autonomous trains. According to UITP, automated metro lines across the world reached the 1,000-kilometre milestone as of 2018. First, industry leaders will need to focus on interoperability to enable secure information-sharing between disparate unmanned systems, vehicles, and other system-wide networks. The capacity to manage autonomous train operations will support significant safety, efficiency, and productivity benefits for the rail industry.
Not only will these vehicles be driverless, they will have built-in artificial intelligence that can be programmed to monitor speed, maintain safe train control, and even mimic driving styles and behaviours perfected by human operators which can, for example, reduce incidents caused by extreme weather or evolving trackside maintenance needs. And by connecting these trains to each other and to other IoT network devices, we can more intelligently use data to manage productivity, transit capacity, railway conditions, and safer mobility throughout our cities, communities, and countries.
Innovative technologies, like the IoT, have the potential to enable tremendous amounts of change. Interconnectivity and machine-to-machine communication supports train services proficiency, making train travel a more attractive mobility option.
This intelligence could also help to propel society towards a shared mobility model that is less about having your own personal vehicle, but rather treating mobility as a service – empowering people to be more productive during their commute times and enabling greater freedom and equal opportunities for those currently restricted by the inability to drive or fly.
It seems that we’re at an inflection point, one in which the rail industry needs to adopt new technologies and operational processes in order to keep pace with the disruptors. If we don’t figure out a sustainable way to attract more passengers to train travel, change the way trains run on tracks, and ensure trains arrive safely on time, the rail industry will not see itself move forward as a part of the future of mobility. This focus on passenger experience, and particularly the capability to increase commute productivity, is leading to the development of faster and faster modes of travel. Research and development continue into previously unexplored areas for maglev trains and hyperloop to potentially transform our travels all over again.
Our customers often ask how they can prepare for these changes. We build Cisco Validated Designs to help customers take that journey with a tested and validated approach. But we must go further.
Today, our society relies so heavily on connectivity of devices and data exchange, it is no surprise that concerns about cybersecurity and privacy slow the adoption of these transportation innovations. How can we securely scale these technologies to empower cities and communities in the future and regulate the use of personal citizen data? It’s time to put cybersecurity above everything else.
The rapid advancement of digitisation in transportation calls not only for greater commitment and collaboration across governments around the world, but also for the creation of a universal multi-modal transportation framework that will help to standardise the way cities and communities use, secure, and govern the data that is shared across transportation assets, infrastructure, and devices.
This will accelerate the actionable intelligence that will help governments to leverage and extend the opportunities for future travel beyond the examples above. With that kind of framework, we can broaden the way we think about and develop mobility innovations that truly transform the way we get people and goods wherever they need to be.
With these thoughts about the future of transportation, follow along with our #FutureofPublicSector series where we take a deeper look into some of the digital innovations around the world and how these are helping to change the future of the public sector.
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