Looking Down the Road to America’s Transportation Future
Emerging technology has the potential to transform the way we approach and solve both individual and societal challenges and create a better life — not just a smarter life — for people around the world. And the first place we’re seeing this happen is in transportation.
As a primary example, the Internet of Things is enabling ride sharing apps at the fingertips of most smartphone-wielding Americans in urban areas. But it’s also serving as a transit solution for those who don’t have access to public transportation, and is even being explored to see how ride-sharing can be applied to disabled or elderly populations that aren’t able to drive or easily access transit systems themselves.
From ride-sharing to other consumer-facing technologies like autonomous vehicles and traffic planning apps, the innovation economy is capitalizing on the myriad opportunities in the space. And even the government is in on it — cities are capitalizing on these solutions and applying them to their own constituent issues.
By now, we’ve all heard about DOT’s Smart Cities Challenge which asked cities across America to develop ideas for an integrated, smart transportation system that would use data, applications, and technology to help people and goods move more quickly, cheaply, and efficiently.
At SxSW this month, I had the honor of leading some conversations on how American cities are pursuing this vision, and how solutions are tailored to their unique challenges and needs.
A key takeaway from my discussions with municipal representatives from across the country was that data is increasingly being used to inform how they can design and deploy transportation infrastructure, and how to provide transparency for more democratic decision-making.
One such application, according to Alex Pazuchanics of the Pittsburgh Mayor’s office, is mitigating the effects of winter weather by using a new app to track where snow plows have been so residents can plan accordingly.
Robert Garcia, the Mayor of Long Beach, California, said that as one of the country’s biggest ports, freight traffic around Long Beach is causing congestion and contributing to climate issues problematic to their community. As a result, cycling is becoming a primary transportation alternative, so the city is tracking BikeShare use to guide bike path development and infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the City of Austin’s Transportation Director, Rob Spillar, admitted that his city’s rapid population growth and transformation into a destination location has moved faster than its current infrastructure can handle. Fortunately, Austin can embrace high-profile events like SxSW happening in its own back yard to collect data around, and track road closures to inform where the next rail station will be located.
Clearly, no matter the size, location or makeup of the community, planning for the future of transportation is a key consideration for cities in the US. With conversations around infrastructure investment at a fever pitch, increased access to public transport and ride-sharing at our fingertips, and smarter, data-focused planning already in development, Samsung will be a key partner to keep America moving forward.