Technology Record - Issue 33: Summer 2024

115 PUBLIC SECTOR Organisations can also capitalise on technologies such as AI, predictive analytics and machine learning to manage and maintain the physical infrastructure more efficiently. “A city’s public transit network typically comprises roads, rail, bridges, tunnels, train or bus stations and many other physical assets,” says Priest. “All these assets must be inspected regularly to ensure they’re safe and wellmaintained. The scale of this task means that the workforce needs support to keep up with the inspections and maintenance. When they don't get it, elements of the infrastructure can fail and cause issues in the transportation network, which then impacts all the people using it.” However, says Priest, technologies such as AI, predictive analytics, machine learning and IoT sensors can be used to monitor assets, identify abnormalities or issues and proactively notify the operator, allowing it to intervene before they cause a major problem. Tokyo Metro Co, for example, has developed a solution that uses Microsoft Azure AI services and Microsoft Power Platform to rapidly and accurately detect equipment deterioration and abnormalities on the nine subway lines it operates in the city of Tokyo, Japan. The solution analyses images of the 200 kilometres of rail tracks, significantly reducing the time it takes to complete full site inspections and decreasing employees’ workloads. Tokyo Metro is now evaluating how it can use alternative sensor devices and images to improve the efficiency of track maintenance. “AI supports the workforce in achieving quick and accurate inspections," says Priest. "It also enables organisations to identify trends or patterns in commonly arising faults, allowing them to rethink their maintenance plans or plan and build infrastructure more efficiently in the first place.” Priest adds that as data systems and vehicles become increasingly connected, public transportation providers will have opportunities to develop new solutions to improve traffic management and increase road safety too. “For instance, we could use IoT sensors and vehicleto-everything communication to notify drivers about potential hazards and prevent issues such as trucks hitting bridges,” he says. Microsoft collaborates with its extensive partner network to develop AI-powered tools and other technologies that will improve operations across the public transportation sector. “Our partners are vital, building on our technology to provide unique solutions designed to help organisations overcome specific challenges,” says Priest. “Partners like Bentley Systems are using our technology to engineer solutions for the design, construction and ongoing management of the physical transport infrastructure, while Hexagon is using it in asset lifecycle management solutions. Our technology is also powering Conduent’s payments tools, SAS’s predictive analytics and predictive maintenance solutions and TomTom’s solutions for traffic flow and junction analysis, among others.” In addition, Microsoft technology forms the foundation of Accenture’s integrated mobility system. “Accenture is working to bring together all sorts of transport data, focusing particularly on analysing information about crashes and near misses to improve safety,” says Priest. “Another notable partner is Parsons Corporation, which is using Microsoft technology in its Intelligent Networks smart mobility platform. It captures data from different parts of a city’s transportation system to help operators manage their entire networks in real time.” By using this technology to improve public transportation systems, city leaders can make communities and public spaces more liveable, sustainable and inclusive, says Priest. “Public transportation is a catalyst for creating better communities,” he explains. “Research shows that people want to live in towns and cities with extensive public transit services that are well-managed, reliable, fairly priced and convenient and easy to access, so they can commute to work, socialise and run errands easily. When communities have well-connected, multimodal public transportation systems, they also typically experience economic growth and, of course, if more people are using public transport than personal cars, this will improve environmental sustainability too. “ People want public transport systems that are predictable, reliable and easy to use”