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It is a rare day that you won't take some form of transportation

A bus, train or car to work. A bike to school. A plane for a business trip. And even if you don't leave your home, your life is still influenced by the transportation industry: virtually every tangible good—food, clothing, medicine, vehicles, computers—has been transported into your world from somewhere else.

Transportation—the movement of people and goods from point A to point B—is the life force of our economy. Cities could not exist if we didn't have transportation systems to move people and goods in, out and around them. It has been a leading driver behind globalization: shrinking distances, seeding the emergence of entire new economies and improving the quality of life for millions of people.

Yet many of our transportation systems are inadequate to serve the needs of the 21st century. By integrating technology and intelligence into the physical transportation infrastructure, we can improve capacity, enhance the traveler experience and make our transportation systems more efficient, safe, and secure.

Smarter Transportation video: Introduction (2:26min)


Improving mobility for the 21st century

IBM Chairman Samuel J. Palmisano addresses members of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America about the opportunities for a smarter transportation system.



The need for progress is clear. Traffic congestion costs the European Union over 1% of GDP, or over 100 billion Euros per year. 60% of consumer sentiment around the U.S. air travel industry is negative, and there are 19% fewer brand-loyal travellers in 2008 than 2006 - a recipe for commodisation. U.S. road traffic congestion in 2007 wasted 2.8 billion gallons of fuel and 4.2 billion hours. Total cost of wasted fuel and time was $87.2 billion. The opportunity is here. A european city reduced traffic by up to 18%, and Increased use of public transit by 80,000 passangers per day. Citizens voted to support the project. A European airport reduced mishandled baggage by 60% using an innovative RFID-based solution. One ton of rail freight can be moved 423 miles using one gallon of fuel. A single freight train can replace 280 trucks, reducing fuel use, congestion and emmisions.



Consider what happens when something goes wrong

A storm, a blackout or even a strike in one city can reverberate throughout the entire country because transportation is a complex, interconnected ecosystem of many stakeholders.

When our transportation system grinds to a stop, it costs money—between 1 and 3 percent of our gross domestic product. In the United States alone, 4.2 billion hours are lost to people sitting in traffic every year.

We can't build our way out of congestion with more roads and bridges and tracks. "The pattern we see is that every time a new road is built, utilization increases and congestion comes back," says Phil Mumford, CEO of Queensland Motorways in Australia. "We need to be smarter about how we manage our traffic flow." And our airport capacity. Our railways. And our shipping lanes.