The first major partner to be announced was Transport for London (TfL), which has entered an 18-month collaboration with Bosch to explore how to address the aims set out in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy.
Given the rapid rate of urbanisation, cities cannot meet this challenge alone. Which means public-private-partnerships have become increasingly important to developing solutions that are economically and socially sustainable.
The central aim of the strategy is for 80 per cent of all trips in London to be made on foot, by bicycle or using public transport by 2041.
While that would certainly limit the stress on the city’s roads and possess clear benefits for the environment, London has some of the UK (and the world’s) busiest roads and that problem is likely to remain. For example, London buses are an essential element of the city’s public transport network, with 8000 scheduled buses in operation over 700 different routes, carrying over 1.8 billion passenger journeys.
What London needs is a traffic management strategy that takes into account the volume of commercial traffic that flows through the city. While encouraging more walking and cycling, and greater dependence on public transport is a positive step forward, public-private-partnerships must take a sophisticated, strategic approach to congestion.
As one of the world’s biggest cities, a capital of finance, commerce and tourism, London is facing pressure to digitalise its existing infrastructure, and complete the transition towards becoming a “smart city”.
Of the multitude of factors driving smart city initiatives traffic management is one of the most important aspects of development; as it has a both a large social and economic impact. And despite the aim of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, London needs to turn to new technologies to tame its traffic.
With DAS, a city’s existing fibre optic networks can be augmented to create a vast network of sophisticated acoustic sensors – enabling the monitoring of roadway traffic and public transport routes (including subway and light rail). Rather than relying on outdated, intermittent, or simply unreliable data, DAS monitoring solutions provides the means to recognise and detect the acoustic and seismic data generated by vehicles and trains – so that traffic can be managed effectively, and trains accurately located, all in real time.
If cities are serious about improving traffic flows, as the partnership between Bosch and TfL suggests, then technologies like DAS have a key role to play in gaining intelligent insights, managing motorways and roadways, and managing transport networks more efficiently.
By capitalising on existing fibre assets — many of which are already in place, running alongside or underneath current roads and motorways — cities can digitally renovate their current transport networks and put in place the intelligent transport systems we need sooner, cheaper and, most importantly, with less disruption than alternative approaches.