149283445

Smart Roads Pave Way to Future Cities

Investing in roads could yield major benefits.

Peter Harris | UPS

Future of Cities2In a previous post, I discussed the need for a strong public transportation network and its freight equivalent in the shape of efficient, integrated networks in the rapidly expanding cities of the future.

Public transit and optimized urban freight movement remains one of the most effective ways for urban areas to reduce congestion and pollution—both enormous concerns as the world’s urban population swells.

Despite necessary investments in these areas, however, cars aren’t going anywhere soon– especially not between now and 2030.

By then, according to Oxford Economics, spending on transportation in the top 750 cities worldwide will grow by 80%—equal to an increase of $2.1 trillion in expenditures.

The absence of adequate public transportation, a lack of safety on existing transportation options, and the physical size of cities partly explains why citizens in Brazil and South Africa, for example, spend more per capita on personal vehicles than residents of other areas.

Pullquote share icon. Share

Traffic delays cost the economies of England, France, Germany and the US $200 billion in 2013.

Combined with the huge rise in the worldwide middle class being forecast, it’s plain to see that personal transportation needs a new round of innovation. And when we look at urban freight, it is clear that there is still an immense opportunity to consolidate movements onto the efficient integrated network providers.

The case for this innovation isn’t just environmental—the price of traffic jams may be higher than you’d expect. According to The Centre for Economics and Business Research and INRIX, traffic delays cost the economies of England, France, Germany and the US $200 billion in 2013, and by 2030 that figure could rise to $300 billion.

A team from Carnegie Mellon recently piloted a “smart signal” program where traffic signals combined motion recognition with intra-signal communications, helping to reduce time spent stopped in traffic by 40% and overall travel time by 26%.

And less time in the car or delivery truck means lower emissions: the researchers estimated that exhaust emissions fell by 21% over the course of two years.

“Smart” roads and vehicles represent yet another source of potential innovation. Smart road initiatives—transportation networks that rely on real-time information to optimize traffic flow—can range from electronic signs warning of incidents to real-time traffic data collection from cameras or embedded sensors.

The UK is already experimenting with smart roadways that feature illuminated signs that change speed limits and open auxiliary lanes of traffic.

global_cities_landscape-cover-pageIn the developing world, smart roads may be a matter of life and death, since traffic fatalities are on the rise. The World Health Organization predicts that road deaths in poor and middle-income countries will approach 2 million people by 2030, matching deaths by HIV/AIDS.

In fact, the International Road Assessment Program calculates that road deaths and injuries cost $1.9 trillion annually—2% of GDP for high-income countries and 5% of GDP of low- and middle-income countries. Roads that feature advanced safety features, such as detecting pedestrians and more advanced speed controls, will be a necessary feature as cities in the developing world experience explosive growth.

It will take time and sustained investment for our roads and vehicles to be optimized for the future. But the payoffs, in terms of reduced carbon emissions, fewer traffic fatalities, and less time sitting in traffic, are already being realized in some parts of the world. These smarter roads can help growing cities thrive. goldbrown2

Sepia Tone Filter: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/sepia-tone
Peter Harris is Director of Sustainability for UPS Europe. He has been working for UPS for 27 years and held previous positions as UK Automotive Director as well as UK Industrial Engineering Director. He holds a Masters in Engineering from Cambridge University, UK and is a Chartered Engineer and Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Click the RSS icon to subscribe to future articles by this author. RSS Feed

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s