Smart city transportation initiatives require advanced mapping systems

As cities get smarter, municipalities prioritize improving transportation to make it is easier for residents to move effectively and efficiently, which is where digital mapping steps in

17Apr

It is safe to say that improving transportation is a priority for most, if not all, municipalities. By 2050, two out of every three people are likely to be living in cities or other urban centres, according to a 2018 United Nations report. Rapidly changing trends in individual transportation– electric bikes and car shares, scooters and concepts like Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel system – are changing the way people move.

The challenge is how to make all of these transportation options available to city residents and visitors, and easy to use. Advanced transportation initiatives and projects – particularly those like e-scooters that are fast-moving – require advanced mapping systems that can keep up, and help both municipal transportation professionals and the public maximize the benefits of the options available for getting around.

Digital maps with wayfinding capabilities can play a critical role in presenting transportation options – putting everything that a city has to offer into one easy-to-use platform. Below, we look at some of the ways a digital map can help simplify and transform transportation within cities.

Ride sharing

Ride sharing has changed the way people drive – especially in cities. The sharing economy, peer-to-peer platforms that provide access to shared goods and services, is estimated to be a $335bn industry in the US by 2025, and the millennial generation is driving most of this growth, according to Forrester Research.

People living in urban areas know they have options aside from outright car ownership. Ride sharing and vehicle-for-hire services are changing the way people get around. Zipcar, Uber and Lyft are now available in all major cities.

With an interactive map, Zipcar pickup and dropoff locations can easily be displayed as well as the designated pickup and drop-off spots for Uber's and Lyfts' at popular location such as airports, sports complexes, or event centers.

These applications can be extremely helpful during major events in urban areas, where crowds of people are gathered for a convention, parade, sporting event or other reason. The map can be rapidly updated with a special event overlay, showing all of the available transportation options, closures, and various other needs.

Scooter and bike sharing

Driving or walking are no longer the only options for getting to and from work, especially with the growth of e-scooter sharing and bike-sharing.

A digital map can display all of the e-bikes and scooters available throughout the city, as well as pickup and drop-off locations. Once at the pickup or drop-off location, people can use the map to find the best routes to get to their final destination.

Public transportation

Aside from these transportation sharing options, of course, municipalities are focused on increasing the use of public transportation. But schedules and routes of buses, shuttles, above and underground trains can be overwhelming and frustrating for even the savviest city dweller.

Digital maps that have GIS integration and wayfinding capabilities can help simplify the use of public transportation. With a smartphone, map users can quickly see where the nearest train station or bus stop is, when the next bus is scheduled to arrive, and point-to-point wayfinding instructions for how to get there.

Additionally, city workers can use these maps to send out alerts to the public about any changes to the schedule, breakdowns or emergences, with estimated times and alternative routes.

Parking

Parking in an urban environment can feel almost impossible at times – with the constant circling around the block looking for an open parking garage, street parking or even free parking. Drivers spend an average of 17 hours a year looking for parking, adding up to an about $345 per driver in wasted time, fuel and emissions.

Digital maps can have the different types of parked highlighted for user ease. Additionally, municipalities can go a step further and use digital maps to track open parking spaces across the city. By using RFID tags or other sensor tracking systems, parking availability within a garage or a paid meter on the street can be tracked and then visualized on a map.

Construction

Urban areas are already congested, and construction amplifies this. Construction can be identified on a digital map with up-to-date information on how the construction may affect traffic patterns.

When it comes to transportation, cities are definitely getting smarter ­– using interactive, data-integrated maps can help residents, visitors and event city planners by putting all transportation resources into a single, easy-to-access hub of information. 

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