It’s Time to Be Smart About Traffic

Smarter traffic solutions could save Hong Kongers nearly a week a year of time now wasted sitting in traffic jams


You know things are bad when the major characteristic of something called “rush hour” is that nothing is moving!

Traffic congestion isn’t just bad news for people who get stuck in a jam. It is costing some of the world’s best known cities billions a year. Not just from all the fuel wasted by vehicles that aren’t doing anything apart from polluting the air. There is also the lost productivity because staff are in their cars instead of at the office.


Changing Gears

Hong Kong isn’t immune. Local newspapers regularly carry stories about the dire conditions on the city’s roads and the impact of traffic chaos. They call for everything, from a revamp of transport policies to a focus on stricter licensing for private cars and legalising ride-hailing services.

However, more cities are discovering that the answer to traffic congestion isn’t necessarily to restrict vehicles or build more roads. It is to find smarter ways to manage their traffic.

As well as delivering benefits, such as reducing travel times, smart transportation is also becoming a big business. A new report from Zion Market Research has revealed that the global market for traffic management solutions, which was worth about US$30 billion in 2018, is expected to reach nearly US$80 billion by 2025. A significant proportion of that total includes smart solutions, such as Smart Surveillance, Smart Signalling and Traffic Analytics.


Quicker Trips and Cleaner Air

SAP is already an active player in smart city initiatives all over the world, addressing everything from obvious areas like housing, to trickier challenges such as improving the quality and availability of higher education. And we are also involved in smart transportation initiatives.

Take the project in Karlsruhe, Germany, which has partnered with a local energy provider on a pilot project called smart city light, or “Sm!ght.” New lampposts in this city of 300,000 offer free Wi-Fi, an emergency button, a charging point for e-cars, and environmental sensors that measure pollution levels.

The lamps collect data, which is analyzed and disseminated to the city and its citizens. For example, radar sensors monitor traffic levels and provide alerts when e-car drivers approach a lamp with a charging station. Environmental data such as particulate matter emissions is also recorded by the lamps, allowing the city to take action to improve air quality.


Safer Journeys

In Japan, SAP has partnered with NTT and the Keifuku Bus Company, to keep passengers safe. With 300 employees and over 200 vehicles, Keifuku Bus is using Internet of Things technology in the form of sensor vests to collect biometric data from drivers to predict stress and fatigue.

Collected by  a smartphone, the relevant data transmitted to the back-end system on the SAP HANA cloud platform, which uses pattern recognition to understand and even predicting changes in the driver’s behaviour. This allows for steps, such as swapping a driver to allow for some rest. Or, in extreme cases, stopping the bus to eliminate the risk of a tired or emotional driver getting into an accident, improving passenger safety.


Next-Generation Solution in Nanjing

Nanjing in mainland China is using connected logistics to better measure, understand, and manage huge traffic volumes. There are about 10,000 taxicabs, 7,000 buses, and a million private cars running throughout the city road network. To help cope with this volume, Nanjing developed a next-generation, smart traffic system that includes sensors and RFID chips that generate continuous data streams about the status of transportation systems across the city.

Nanjing uses advanced analytics that process 100 million records per day and a huge digital map that visually represents traffic events to identify traffic patterns and trouble spots. The system publishes traffic results in real time on a mobile app, which citizens can use to plan their travel and avoid the worst congestion.


Insights in Action

Closer to home, smarter traffic solutions – such as real-time sensor data coming from connected and self-driving vehicles within the smart city infrastructure – could provide valuable insights and give Hong Kong people back nearly a week of the time that’s now wasted every year sitting in traffic jams.

But, that’s only part of the smart city picture. The positive impact of the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, Big Data, mobile apps, machine learning, blockchain, and analytics on urbanization promises to transform communities into smart cities that deliver better outcomes for everyone.

Get a glimpse of some of those ideas by downloading the SAP “Smart City Revolution” thought leadership paper.

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