Technology Record - Issue 27: Winter 2022

142 transport urban The world’s urban population exceeded its rural population for the first time in 2007, according to the United Nations. Nonprofit organisation Global Change Data Lab now predicts that more than twice as many people will live in urban areas than rural ones by 2050. Better public transportation will be a key consideration for city leaders in an increasingly urban world as they work to address the challenges of city life. For example, more people living in cities means more travellers and ever-increasing congestion. In 2021, congestion cost commuters in London, UK, 148 hours of lost time and US commuters $53 billion, according to Inrix’s 2021 Global Traffic Scorecard report. There are other challenges too, including new modes of transport such as ridesharing and autonomous vehicles, and the rising impacts of pollution on our climate. Connected transportation could be a solution to some – if not all – of these problems. According to a Microsoft white paper titled Digital transformation in public transport, the concept is built on collecting data via internet of things (IoT) sensors, radiofrequency identification tags and satellite receivers, and analysing it to optimise public transport operations. For example, traffic lights can be timed to improve traffic flow, tolls can be adjusted based on road demand, and public transport schedules can be updated in real time to give commuters the best information for planning their journeys. “Once cities have installed and connected sensor technology, they can take advantage of that infrastructure to power additional smart city insights: for instance, sensing air quality, or even analysing emissions data,” said Microsoft, in the white paper. “The intelligence resulting from this data can inform choices around transport policy and give government agencies the ability to better engage with communities, modernise operations and enhance services.” Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) in the UK has achieved some of these goals by working with HPE and Microsoft and implementing the Microsoft Azure cloud. As a result of the collaboration, TfGM has reduced costs, while improving security and maintaining performance. “To enable TfGM’s plans for the future – as well as Greater Manchester’s digital ambitions – it is important that we have firm technology foundations that we can build on,” said Malcolm Microsoft and its ecosystem of partners are demonstrating that the power and flexibility of IoT, cloud and other technologies are helping city leaders deliver next-generation transportation systems BY E L LY YAT E S - ROB E R T S Connected F E ATUR E