Smart mobility also means smart roads
The future of mobility is not just a matter of upgrading the moving parts (i.e. the software of the system); but also about better managing the traffic infrastructure itself; mobility's hardware, so to speak. In other words: no smart mobility without smart roads.
That could have been the slogan for the International Summit of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBBTA), from 15 to 17 October in Rome. One of the participants this year was traffic management specialist Kapsch, to discuss the benefits of multi-lane free-flow (MLFF) tolling systems and present some of its new products and services.
Kapsch's MLFF tolling solution allows for fees to be adapted to the time of day, increasing the efficiency of traffic flow, lowering the operational cost of the infrastructure and mitigating the environmental impact of traffic. The tolling functionality can be integrated into smartphones, increasing the convenience for drivers. The app also offers congestion warnings and allows for payment of multimodal trips.
Kapsch also presented an on-board unit rental service that covers most of the European motorways, paving the way for the European Electronic Tolling Services. Three further Kapsch innovations presented at IBBTA 2017 further highlight the importance of smart infrastructure for the future of smart mobility:
→ V2X infrastructure: vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, allowing vehicles to warn each other about accidents, breakdowns or bad weather ahead; also sending this info to traffic management centres which then can implement traffic control measures, for example the dynamic adjustment of speed limits.
→ WIM: Weigh-In-Motion provides operators with a solution to control overloaded vehicles at full speed without disrupting traffic flow.
→ IMS: Integrated Mobility Services allow cities, mobility service providers (including operators of public transport, toll services, or Mobility as a Service) to offer optimised mobility packages.
As demonstrated by Kapsch and others at IBBTA, our traffic infrastructure should not be mistaken for the merely static background on which mobility innovation is grafted. As mentioned at IAA 2017 in Frankfurt recently, 75% of the traffic infrastructure we will be using by 2050 still needs to be built. That is not just an enormous challenge for our societies, as well as a huge business opportunity for suppliers – but also a chance for all stakeholders involved in mobility, including corporates, to help shape the infrastructural environment of tomorrow to better suit their needs.