How Smart Technologies Can Help Ease Public Transportation Concerns in a Post-Pandemic World

TIBCO Smart Cities
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Public transportation is the central nervous system of every major city’s public life. Think about the Metro in France, the Underground in London and, of course, the Subway in New York. With COVID 19 forcing a change in the way we interact with each other, public transportation has been drastically affected. In the post-pandemic world, the newly developed need to minimize the risk of infection in public spaces will increase the demand for smart transportation systems. 

In the post-pandemic world, the newly developed need to minimize the risk of infection in public spaces will increase the demand for smart transportation systems. Click To Tweet

Since public transportation systems are highly vulnerable to disease outbreaks, adopting digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) can play a key role in balancing operations with public safety measures for monitoring spread and taking corrective action at points of critical impact. Even before the pandemic struck a blow at public health and safety, architecting intelligent transportation systems was a top priority for governments across the world for different reasons. Critical factors such as the growing need for constant connectivity, a rise in traffic fatalities, changing consumer preferences, environmental factors, and urbanization were already driving the development of smart transportation projects across the world. Globally, Grand View Research has predicted that the growth in the intelligent transportation systems market will register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8% from 2020 to 2027. 

These factors combined with the heightened need for fortifying public safety measures will further accelerate the development of intelligent transportation ecosystems. 

While the pandemic has revealed numerous fault lines in urban mobility, it has also offered us an opportunity to reshape our transit systems, eliminate points of friction and make public mobility services highly people-focused. 

Critical focus areas for architecting effective smart transportation solutions in the future:

Hygiene and temperature control: In the post-pandemic world, passenger apprehension about being infected by others sharing the ride with them or using the ride after potentially infected people will be a critical concern to address. Through the use of thermal and optical sensors, hygiene control procedures such as humidity checks, periodical UV disinfecting, and hand hygiene monitoring will need to be automated in order to maintain robust health and safety standards in the vehicles, waiting areas and stations. 

Autonomous vehicles and anomaly detection: While the concept of autonomous vehicles is still controversial, the coronavirus pandemic has brought attention to the role that driverless vehicles can potentially play in ensuring faster response during emergencies, disease prevention, and infection control. To make this work, there is a need to build public confidence and reliance on AI technologies as they can ensure the public’s physical safety.  With the advent of 5G technology, IoT devices and sensors can minimize decision latency to facilitate real-time incident response with the hopes that road accidents be greatly reduced or eliminated in even the most densely populated areas. In addition, complex event streaming combined with data management capabilities, also known as anomaly detection, can be instrumental to effectively verify the urgency of events in real time and facilitate predictive interventions.

Dynamic response to demand: Public transportation services in the future will need to run with an increased focus on social-distancing and personal hygiene. As user demand fluctuates, operations will need to dynamically match the change in demand. This includes adjusting vehicle dispatches on a route, suspending services on new routes based on daily government directives, adhering to load/capacity restrictions, etc. All of this will have to be balanced with managing resource allocation, fuel consumption, and other primary operational attributes. Having the ability to combine streaming data sources (both internal and third-party data sources such as weather, passenger information, traffic, application data, etc.) with historical travel and passenger information can help operators leverage prescriptive analytics for making real-time service adjustments that aid in improving operational efficiency. In addition, this data can be used to convey real-time updates to passengers across multiple channels (such as applications, live displays at bus stops, etc.) for improved passenger communication, transparency, and safety.  

Contactless fare payment: Although contactless payments are already being used for public transportation fares, the goal is to eliminate passenger interaction with any physical payment terminals, kiosks that involve cash usage, and contact with highly used public surfaces such as PIN Pads and touch screens. Mobile ticketing and the use of digital wallets can empower passengers to complete transactions securely through their smart devices such as wearables and phones without risking transmission. In addition, mobile ticketing reduces friction points in the passenger’s journey and improves passenger experience by eliminating waiting time at ticketing counters, supporting social distancing norms, while addressing operational efficiency and service efficacy by reducing staffing costs, improving running time and scheduling.  

Key Technology Drivers of Change in Transportation Systems

This pandemic has brought to light the need to accelerate the development of smart cities so that Government authorities can leverage the use of sustainable technologies to ease citizen concern about using public transportation.

TIBCO is uniquely positioned to provide a fully integrated smart city solution for the public transportation industry. TIBCO’s Connected Intelligence platform brings together the power of integration, advanced analytics, and data management to provide a robust infrastructure for architecting and operating intelligent transportation ecosystems. Learn more about TIBCO’s Connected Intelligence platform and our integrated smart city solutions.