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Embracing urban mobility to move with the times

Nurdianah Md Nur | July 29, 2014
Charbel Auon of Schneider Electric talks about the requirements of urban mobility and how to overcome the challenges to implement it.

Charbel Aoun of Schneider Electric
Charbel Aoun, senior vice president, Smart Cities - Strategy & Innovation, Schneider Electric. Credit: Schneider Electric.

Urbanisation and increasing populations are set to increase the strain on existing transport systems. To counter this, smart urban mobility solutions need to leverage real-time data to offer integrated information services such as real time journey planning.  

Leveraging data for services will enable transport operators to better balance demand and supply to secure improved functionality, allow more efficient use of transport resources, promote alternative modes of travel, and secure a more environmentally sustainable outcome for urban transport systems, said Charbel Aoun, senior vice president, Smart Cities - Strategy & Innovation, Schneider Electric. This then allows for better forward planning in terms of urban management, and create economic growth for cities and governments, he added.

In an email interview with Computerworld Singapore, Aoun spells out the investments required for effective urban mobility and provided tips on overcoming the challenges to implement it.

What investments does urban mobility require?
Moving forward, governments need to look at developing sustainable urban mobility systems, with the ability to scale as the population grows. Taking this approach requires a bottom-up, collaborative approach that involves not only authorities but also citizens and organisations from both the private and public sectors.

There are four building blocks of a smart urban mobility system which governments and private sectors need to invest and develop: 

  • Physical Infrastructure - This constitutes the roads, railways, bike paths, footpaths and other physical assets that enable transport to operate. Investment in this area involves the upkeep of physical assets, such as ensuring that roads are well-paved, sidewalks are well maintained, etc.
  • Operational Technology - This is the part which generates the raw material required for smart solutions: the data. Such technologies are already installed in many cities to direct traveller behaviour and maintain traffic flow. However, authorities and private entities can collaborate to develop more advanced solutions which are able to harvest data and information from physical assets in order to support the development of smart urban transport systems. An example of such solution is sensors which track vehicle density on roads or human traffic at train stations.
  • Communications - Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and Bluetooth channels are fundamental for real-time communication of location-based data from machine to machine (the 'internet of things'), and between human operators, data processors and information consumers. The speed and extent of wireless network coverage, together with the protocols governing wireless use, will determine the success of a smart mobility system
  • Information Technology - Both public and private sector actors can create applications and tools to collect and analyse data. These specialist data handlers take advantage of the vast supply of city data and information from operational technologies to create innovative software applications and interfaces for users that can enhance the travel experience. Investment in developing the interactive digital media sector will allow the growth of the ecosystem that enables the creation of such applications and tools.


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