India is one of the countries where the process of urbanisation is an integral part of development. The country’s urban population is growing by 2.3% annually, which is expected to double to 814 million by 2050. Approximately 75% of India’s national income is predicted to come from cities by 2030. According to current estimates, the infrastructure required to make the forecasted urban population mobile in 2050 hasn’t even been developed yet. Urbanet.com estimates the investment gap to amount to $827 billion (Rs 64,57,216 crore). Smart cities will significantly reduce this burden by harnessing the power of information and communication technologies (ICT) to promote sustainable development in urban areas.
At the heart of these smart cities is sustainable mobility. In 2022, India overtook Germany to become the fourth-largest automobile market globally. And the country’s automotive industry is worth more than $100 billion (Rs 7,80,800 crore), contributing to 8% of the country’s total exports. It accounts for 2.3% of India’s GDP and is set to become the third-largest in the world by 2025. However, transport is also a major contributor to air pollution. While India is all geared towards meeting the net-zero target and committed to sustainability, the efforts aren’t matching the country’s growing economy and population.
But the future of smart cities depends on mobility that is connected, environmental-friendly, autonomous, and personalised. Challenges particularly arise when inhabitants (and commuters) have to strike a balance with carbon reduction targets. Currently, the mobility industry is exploring all avenues to make these ambitions a reality, especially through innovations in AI, Big data, and concepts such as shared mobility and smart infrastructure.
When technology is leveraged to manage multiple forms of transport in more efficient, resilient, and sustainable ways, mobility becomes smart. Take, for instance, an Internet of Things (IoT)-based dashboard application on a driver’s smartphone that can communicate with everything from an EV’s sensors to roadside monitoring devices, offering users comprehensive data on the route, weather conditions and traffic among others. Smart mobility makes the best use of available capacity and ensures continuous services despite disruptive incidents while encouraging cleaner options. Smart mobility solutions will aggregate, analyse data and provide the most efficient choices. This will particularly aid in commercial logistics and operations.
Environmental data – intelligence on the weather, soil, air, and other natural elements – will, first, identify areas of concern when it comes to mobility. Thus, helping in aggregating data for more efficient decision-making and innovation in transport. It can also help connect vehicles that will increase efficiency, reliability, and safety for both drivers and the environment. The large-scale adoption of these technologies will help countries decarbonise economies too.
A total number of 449,002 accidents took place in India during the calendar year 2019 leading to 151,113 deaths and 451,361 injuries. This puts India in the highest position among the list of countries with high death rates due to road accidents. Autonomous driving technology, which is witnessing enormous growth throughout the world, will significantly reduce this statistic by decreasing road accidents.
Environmental intelligence, for instance, helps advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) through smart sensors that provide weather predictions and alert on visibility rates. In this arena, rapid progress is being made with the short-wave infrared camera integrated with environmental intelligence monitoring systems. These effectively solve low-visibility challenges which autonomous vehicles (AVs) and ADAS currently face, especially when it comes to first- and last-mile, and public transport.
Interconnected network of vehicles
According to the ‘Improving Internet of Things (IoT) Security with Software-Defined Network (SDN)’ study, there will be more than 75.44 billion connected IoT devices by 2025. This also includes the potential of vehicles exchanging data with a central hub and each other through cellular, WiFi, and satellite communications. This technology, combined with environmental data-based alerts, helps share vehicular data and the climate conditions of the route.
A comprehensive platform for an interconnected network of vehicles can help drivers and businesses monitor, track, re-program, and diagnose issues with constant weather alerts. With IoT-based technologies, ambient air quality monitoring systems can self-diagnose vehicular issues, schedule emissions tests, and regulate usage metrics for optimal performance. This connectivity can also provide easy access to vehicular data for use-cases such as insurance, driver safety, fleet management, and sustainability.
A user-centric approach to commuting integrates several types of transportation into a single mobility service. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) offers value-added provisions through a single application to adopt and maintain a user-centric approach. A single comprehensive platform can help users decide on vehicle customisation, routes, ticketing, and payment. Environmental intelligence provides sufficient data to plan ahead more efficiently.
MaaS providers can partner with environmental data providers like Ambee to create new business models for route efficiency and regular maintenance, making this a popular trend toward achieving smart mobility.
Smart mobility is entirely dependent on a functional smart ecosystem in a smart city. This extends from smart roads to automated parking and everything in between like signals, and roadside sensors. An entire macrocosm of communication through IoT devices needs to be implemented for efficient data sharing.
Environmental intelligence-based driving systems employ a broad range of advanced sensors to understand their surroundings and make data-driven decisions. For example, sensors can consider visibility and precipitation data for optimal route decisions.
If India’s mobility can adopt valuable changes by harnessing the power of technology, India could make a tangible contribution to mitigating climate change. Environmental intelligence has proven to be an essential part of restoring the environmental integrity of our planet. Its cross-functional, technology-based solutions will help the mobility sector build resilient transportation systems for the future.
Author: Madhusudhan Anand, CTO, and co-founder, Ambee