What is Smart Mobility?

February 23, 2021

The last decade has been marked by the exceptional growth of digital communication. This new way of communicating offers opportunities for improvement in our daily lives in many ways.

Mobility is one of the daily life’s aspects that has been improved by digital communication. This development has led to a transformation in mobility, which can now be called “smart”. For more than 30 years, this smart mobility has been developing in the heart of our cities. It not only improves the daily lives of users but also brings jobs, innovation, and the creation of new start-ups with high-growth potential. 

But what exactly is smart mobility? How does it work? What are its effects on users? You will find the answers to these questions here.

Definition of smart mobility

Smart mobility can be found at the crossroads between two sectors: the digital sector and the transportation sector. This notion of intelligence has been made possible by the development of information and communication technologies, which have given rise to Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). From now on, the data collected via IoT solutions can be used to optimize people's journeys because the different systems are able to communicate with each other. 

All these technical terms can be confusing, so we will summarize by saying that intelligent mobility gives each user the opportunity to become an actor in their own mobility, they no longer have to endure it, as has been the case for far too long. 

Smart mobility:

  • Allows citizens to make their modal choice and provides them with all the necessary information and alternatives in case of sudden changes to their initial itinerary. One of its strengths is its real-time response.
  • Gives rise to new, more efficient transportation systems that are also more environmentally friendly
  • Optimizes the time, budget, and comfort of everyone's journeys by making them reliable and safe.

A simplify explanation of how ITS work

Intelligent transportation systems will exchange information with each other. This information is the result of data collected by IoT solutions. 

What is IoT?

The IoT (Internet of Things) is the link between physical goods and their digital existence. In our daily lives, there are more and more objects connected to the Internet that can be controlled and monitored remotely. They also transmit the information collected in real-time to the servers they are connected with.

In order to interact and function, these connected objects will use all of this collected data coupled with all other free data. This data is part of what is called open data. 

This is for example the case of the new generations of apps that use "traces" that our smartphones leave to track our GPS position and send it to other connected objects.

Intelligent Transportation Systems Technologies

Smart mobility is based on telecommunications, information systems, sensors on the roadways, and surveillance cameras. Our smartphone sends its position and from this, it is possible to know our speed of travel and the mode of transport used. 

We mentioned earlier the importance of wireless communication in smart mobility. This, coupled with the mentioned technologies, allows for results such as:

  • The creation of equipment, such as dynamic displays, speed cameras, etc. 
  • The localization of products or travelers, thanks to GPS.
  • The recording of data, using sensors and cameras.

Do you want to know more about improving mobility through digitalization? This article will interest you - How is digitalization improving mobility?

smart crossroads traffic light smart mobility intelligent

Tools used by smart mobility

The smartphone at the center of mobility

The smartphone plays an important role in smart mobility. It represents, for the general public, the most visible aspect of this evolution of mobility. 

In fact, the smartphone allows real-time consultation of the state of road traffic, or the availability and schedules of public transport. In the event of an accident on their way, most users rely on their phones to find an alternative route and get to their destination without getting stuck in traffic jams. 

The smartphone is the tool that offers the user the possibility to be an actor in choosing his own mobility

Electronic toll systems

These electronic toll systems make it easier for drivers to enter and exit the roads. They operate thanks to a system embedded in the vehicle. Once in front of the tollgate, the box is picked up by a receiver that recognizes it and the barrier opens without any action required by the driver to let it pass.

Variable information panels

These signs are designed to alert and inform road users about road conditions, works or accidents. These dynamic signs receive information and broadcast messages in real-time.

Smart crossroads

This type of crossroads, thanks to sensors and cameras, adapts the duration of red lights according to the presence of pedestrians or tramways. 

Smart parking lots

Thanks to the installation of sensors, cameras, and display panels, parking lot users can now be warned of the number of spaces available in a parking lot and are able to locate them once inside. These parking lots can also be equipped with access technology that allows users to open the gate using their smartphones

The benefits of smart mobility’s application 

Smart mobility aims to improve everyone's daily life. Here are the four major advantages of its application, among others.

Improvement of the motorist's experience

Road users, whether in their own vehicles or on public transit, have real-time information that gives them the opportunity to make mobility choices based on events. They can also make the most of the time they spend in transportation by planning their itinerary before leaving. 

Better accessibility to public transportation

Intelligent mobility makes public transportation more accessible, more reliable, and more attractive. The various tools enable users, for example, to pay contactless, simply and quickly, or to locate their bus/tram and find out how far away they are from the stop. They also make it possible to improve traffic flow, optimize network and fleet management and reduce disruptions due to service interruptions. 

Reducing the impact of mobility on the environment

Smart mobility helps reduce congestion and pollution, for example by offering alternative routes in the event of an accident, thus avoiding traffic jams that cause pollution peaks.

This evolution in mobility gives users the opportunity to use multimodality more easily, based on the concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS). By doing so, users will promote more environmentally friendly modes of travel than the car, such as the train coupled with self-service bicycles.

If you would like to know more about MaaS and its challenges for 2021 this article might be of interest to you - Mobility as a Service (MaaS): 4 issues and challenges for 2021

Decrease in traffic congestion

Intelligent mobility can have an impact on relieving traffic congestion. It is, for example, possible to connect traffic lights to each other to allow for smoother traffic flow. 

Cameras, sensors and various applications will enable optimal handling of route changes due to accidents or slowdowns. 

 

Conclusion

Intelligent transportation systems use technologies that are constantly evolving. We can expect even more accurate systems that will allow for even greater real-time automation. 

This evolution of mobility is achieved by adapting to existing infrastructures. This adaptation is crucial because it is currently becoming difficult to build new infrastructures, for spatial, economic, and environmental reasons. It is therefore important to optimize the use of existing networks for the future of mobility. 

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