A DoorDash driver, an Amazon delivery van, and a traveler, stressed and delayed, have been circling the same block or parked for 15 minutes when a parking spot finally opens. The dangerous and unregulated parking jam that occurs belongs to “The Hunger Games,” not a modern American city.
It does not have to be this way. Politicians and urban planners can do better by embracing technology to actively manage movement on the streets and sidewalks.
We cannot wait to act. If our transportation and mobility infrastructure is barely passing grade today, what happens when autonomous vehicles and more shared e-scooters and electric bikes hit the streets?
This is why I believe that investments in smart city technology, the software that helps cities manage and optimize their infrastructures, are so critical. And I’m in good company. Venture capital money has been poured into smart city solutions: More than 900 smart city startups have raised a combined $ 5 billion in recent years.
Why is now the right time to invest in startups targeting urban infrastructure? The answer, as in many aspects of life, is the pandemic.
Many cities, including New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, have closed businesses and offices over the past 18 months, resulting in changes in traffic patterns, a reduction in the number of riders on public transportation, and an increase in traffic. use of micromobility vehicles.
Transportation activity has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, meaning that next year is a unique opportunity for city leaders to implement technology to change street use, add pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, better manage micromobility, improve parking, forge permanent parking lots, and more.
Just improving parking alone would be a huge game changer. According to a recent study, motorists spend 17 hours a year searching for parking, which costs $ 345 per driver in lost time, fuel and emissions.
With the proliferation of new technologies and modes of transportation, cities will require a holistic view of utilization as transportation evolves on the street. Today, a city can use up to 15 different technologies to manage various parts of its mobility infrastructure, causing a massive management challenge.
Cities need unified technology platforms to get a 360-degree view of relevant data and translate all that information into meaningful insights and actions. Fortunately, much of the data is already generated by mobile applications during payment transactions, through GPS systems, traffic data and vehicle operating systems.
What would the definitive deployment of smart city technology look like?
First, a digital mobility and data platform that processes payments would form the technological base of a city. All of the city’s mobility services would run on a payment processing data platform so that the rules, fees and logical service of vehicles that spend time on the curb can be seamlessly regulated.
The platform must also be agile enough to seamlessly connect and replicate new technologies as they evolve, such as orientation, dashboard communication, or apps for people with disabilities.
Consider technologies that are already part of a city’s technology stack, such as Barnacle’s parking application solutions, sensors that report parking availability from Genetec, and micromobility from Lime and Spin.
While they are an integral part of a city’s mobility infrastructure, when alone these applications provide a limited view. A unified digital mobility platform that integrates all of these technologies could serve as the single source of truth where all the data is aggregated.
Some cities are leading the charge in this movement. Austin, Texas, has already successfully integrated dashboard entertainment and guidance applications into its payment processing application.
Boston is actively researching ways to make data-driven changes to the amount of curb space the city dedicates to freight trucks and individual parking spots.
Raleigh, North Carolina, uses a centralized parking and mobility platform, and has implemented parking space occupancy sensors to integrate data parking in local policy decisions.
As cities continue to innovate, private partnerships with companies like Passport that have developed digital mobility platforms will be paramount to improve livability and urban prosperity. Other startups such as Zoba, Ride Report, VADE and StreetLight Data that provide mobility management tools and help cities build data infrastructure will also play a role in the future of the smart city technology stack.
While people on the street will benefit the most from smart city solutions, they will not have the opportunity to experience them unless visionary city leaders act now to implement new technology platforms.