By 2050, an estimated 70% of the global population will be living in urban centers. FastCo reports that this urbanization has massive implications on urban design and infrastructure, posing challenges to authorities and the aging public infrastructure they manage.
One of the major challenges is mobility – making sure people get to the office and their homes efficiently and on time, every single day. To tackle this, more and more cities are looking towards the Internet of Things (IoT), or the systems that enable objects like buses, roads, and lights to communicate with each other independently, to be able to solve pressing issues in transportation. Here are some ways the IoT is poised to improve bus systems in the near future.
Real-time bus tracking
No more guessing: the IoT makes it possible for passengers to access real-time information on where the closest bus is, how long wait times will be, and what available routes will be most conducive for their respective commutes. This works by equipping public buses with GPS and IoT-enabled devices to collect and transmit data to management instantly, and providing commuters with an app that displays this information.
Internet-enabled bus stops
Another way commuters will benefit from this technology is by integrating bus stops into the IoT. Leading the way for this technology in the United States is New York City, which is home to over 4,000 buses serving more than 600 million people every year. More than just providing free wifi to commuters, bus stops of the near future will be able to transmit real-time bus information, as well as environmental data on temperature and air quality, to people waiting for buses.
Enhancing bus routes
In addition to directly helping commuters, the IoT will make it possible for fleet managers and city planners to make more informed decisions for improving service. Information Age Magazine reports that big data collected by IoT-enabled buses will help managements tweak systems as necessary to reduce waiting times and optimize travel routes.
Driver behavior and safety compliance
Metro Magazine states that IoT-enhanced bus systems will allow state governments to implement regulations on driver behavior and safety rule more easily by enabling real-time information to be gathered and processed instantly.
This might come in a similar form to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandate for truckers regarding the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs). Fleetmatics elaborates on the capabilities of ELDs in terms of improving driver behavior and road safety, through the tracking of data such as Hours of Service, vehicle status, etc. In general, IoT-enabled logging devices will proactively remind management teams and drivers about state-regulated limits on working hours and behavior. The devices and apps can efficiently and accurately respond to driver conditions, and therefore prevent problems like driver exhaustion or speeding to protect the commuting public.
In addition to this, operators can also choose to poll driver service on a trip-by-trip basis. This is identical to how ride-sharing apps currently allow users to rate their drivers, and can provide management qualitative information on driver service.
Diagnosing bus problems
Speaking of safety, enhancing bus systems with IoT technology can also make preventive maintenance easier through the use of sensors transmitting information on bus health. Dubbed by some as predictive maintenance, IoT-enabled bus systems can use this technology to better monitor the health and mileage of their units. The software alerts management of possible problems that might arise, making it easier to diagnose and treat maintenance problems to prevent more drastic bus repairs.
Expecting the unexpected
Lastly, connecting bus systems to surrounding objects such as roads, streetlights and even other vehicles can help the management handle unanticipated circumstances. Road closures, breakdowns, road accidents, and inclement weather are just some of these unexpected but potentially difficult situations that the IoT can help alleviate. By enabling the transmission of real-time data to authorities and fleet managers, the IoT makes it possible for people to create alternative arrangements and contingency plans to adapt to the circumstances.
IoT-enhanced bus systems, along with self-driving transit shuttles discussed previously here on the FTS blog, will be possible in the near future, making this lifetime an exciting era for public transportation and innovation. As governments gear up for these technological developments, there is much and more to look forward to on your commute in the next few years.
Exclusively written for Fts4buses.com