A number of innovative technology solutions are being witnessed in the transportation segment across the world and many are making fast inroads in India. The future of mobility will depend more on smart roads, drones, artificial intelligence, sensors and data and, at the same time, on elevated cycle paths and improved walk paths.
Many smart cities have started deploying smart solutions to not only improve passenger experience but also to ensure that the services offered are cleaner, safer and more efficient. To this end, many technological interventions such as introduction of “One Nation One Card”, automated fare collection (AFC) systems, traffic management systems, traffic signal systems, violation detection systems, among others, have been sought in the mobility sphere.
Ahmedabad became the country’s first city to deploy an AFC system on the “One Nation One Card” model, based on an indigenously developed payment system. The card draws its basis from the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) model. The five key components of Ahmedabad’s AFC system are automated fare collection service, automatic vehicle location system, passenger information system, vehicle planning schedule and despatch system and depot management system. The project resulted in providing convenient bus services, reduced queues and waiting time, and increased flexibility in transit routes, besides ensuring deployment of analytical tools at all levels of decision-making.
In order to showcase the entire NCMC ecosystem for digital fare collection, the complete AFC system has been deployed in the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) across a few stations. DMRC uses state-of-the-art devices for AFC through contactless smart cards and contactless smart tokens for commuters. A similar AFC system has been deployed in the Surat bus rapid transit system and the Bengaluru metro.
In order to deal with the ever-increasing traffic snarls, Amaravati Smart and Sustainable City Corporation Limited introduced an e-parking system, wherein the user is required to download the “Park in slot App” from the Google Play Store to avail of the service. The vehicle driver can search for parking slots available near their stoppage in the city (with the aid of inbuilt maps). To avail of the service, a fee can be paid through a debit card, credit card, or an online payment system. The local administration registered better fee collection after the project was rolled out.
Another technology intervention that has gained importance due to the traffic menace is the smart road asset management system (RAMS). Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited conceived this first-of-its-kind idea of deploying a GIS-based decision support system to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to make crucial decisions about prioritisation of roads for repair and maintenance work and planning of new development. The RAMS project involved data collection for the entire PMC road network and development of web-based software.
The adaptive traffic signal system (ATSC) is another technological intervention conceived to address traffic woes. The ATSC has been installed at 50 junctions in Bhubaneswar, after the system was implemented on a pilot basis at five locations and showed desirable results. The system has improved travel time reliability by progressively moving vehicles through otherwise congested intersections. Meanwhile, the entire traffic signal control network is operated on solar energy, generated from composite solar panels fitted on the signals.
Treading on the same lines, Nagpur Smart and Sustainable City Development Corporation Limited introduced automatic number plate recognition and red light violation detection systems across 120 traffic junctions in the city, to track and record licence plates of any type of vehicle, as well as detect red light or stop line violation at intersections. In conjunction, nearly 1,300 cameras have been deployed to monitor vehicle movement and detect suspect vehicles simultaneously. For catching violations integrated e-challan/e-ticket management software has been assimilated with the Regional Transport Office’s database to fetch details of the (violating) vehicle, after which e-challan can be issued. The e-challan also maintains a record of all payments, both received and pending. The solution provides the police a bird’s eye view of the traffic junctions and city’s roads, from the command and control centre.
The way forward
With the nationwide lockdown announced to stymie the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, public transport services came to a grinding halt. Further, users not only shunned public transport services but also shifted to other modes of transportation, including private taxis, autos and shared cars.
Hence, with ridership levels being impacted due to the outbreak of the pandemic, cities need to augment the deployment of smart solutions to not only ensure adherence to physical distancing norms but also to ensure an effective and efficient delivery of services offered. Further, smart mobility solutions will go a long way in improving the efficiency of the system and providing customised user experiences, besides ensuring smooth synchronisation between different modes of transport.