The rapid urbanisation of existing cities and the increasing number of urban habitations have inevitably led to mounting stress on city infrastructure. Addressing the issue of mobility and traffic bottlenecks has thus emerged as a priority area to maintain sustainable urban growth. In light of this, one of the vital components of the central government’s Smart Cities Mission is smart mobility. In a bid to ease traffic congestion, enhance road safety and enable faster travel, several cities selected under the mission have adopted measures to improve urban transportation, and deploying intelligent transport systems (ITS) is one such initiative. ITS solutions draw on technological advancements and traffic information for better transport management. These solutions are set to create investment opportunities in the urban transportation domain.
Focus on ITS in smart cities
Of the 60 cities chosen under the Smart Cities Mission, 31 cities have adopted ITS as one of their focus areas. Under this, technology and mobile network data will be used to generate traffic information and analyse traffic patterns. Several smart solutions, such as passenger information systems (PIS), surveillance camera networks, automatic vehicle location, and vehicle health monitoring and diagnosis can be deployed under ITS. Adopting such initiatives will help commuters in identifying less congested routes for faster and safer travel, and allow authorities to regulate and manage traffic in a systematic manner. At the same time, for contingencies, services such as emergency voice calling, and traffic and accident alerts can also be extended to commuters.
In addition, analysing mobile network data can also enable authorities to undertake origin-destination analysis, record movements around key hubs in the city, provide congestion insights and track on-road population over a period of time.
ITS solutions present an immense opportunity in the urban mobility domain. According to India Infrastructure Research, opportunities worth about Rs 68.38 billion exist in this segment for the 60 cities to be developed under the mission.
A total of 417 smart mobility projects have been planned in the top 33 cities under the mission (cities chosen under Phase I and the Fast-track Phase). Of these, 107 projects (about 25 per cent) are focused on technology-based solutions.
For the 33 cities under consideration, traffic management solutions will require the maximum investment of about Rs 25 billion in both area-based development and pan-city projects. This is followed by payment/penalty card facilities which will require an investment of approximately Rs 3 billion. Application/Technology-based systems for mobility and PIS are estimated to require an investment of Rs 1 billion each.
Besides these cities, the 27 urban centres selected under Phase II of the mission will also focus on ITS-based smart mobility solutions. These solutions will have an investment requirement of about Rs 16 billion for pan-city initiatives and Rs 2 billion for area-based development projects.
The key to ensuring economic growth in a city lies in addressing infrastructure bottlenecks, especially in terms of mobility. ITS adoption is hence the right step for cities set to embark on a path to smarter development. These solutions project an immense investment potential in the urban transport domain. However, the extent to which these solutions will address the growing congestion and transport management needs of India’s urban agglomerations remains to be seen. Timely and effective implementation, along with adequate management, will be crucial for the success of these initiatives.