This is where technology can help
Our physical transportation systems can be instrumented with sensors, meters, appliances, cameras, smart phones, biometric devices—giving us the ability to measure, sense and see the exact condition of everything. Instrumentation is about sensing what is happening right now, whether it is the temperature of a train wheel bearing, the location of a misplaced suitcase, metal fatigue in a bridge. At the same time, sophisticated analytic systems can detect patterns and relationships and enable continuous decision making in near-real time. We can better plan routes and schedules and optimize vehicles, equipment and facilities to expand capacity.
With analytical tools, transportation providers can predict demand, align capacity and deploy assets, continuously adapting operations across the entire network.
Stockholm: from drivers to straphangers
The city of Stockholm aims to be the world's most accessible capital and views transportation as part of this goal. Working with IBM, they created the largest-of-its-kind Congestion Charging System (US) in Europe. This is just one part of a holistic transportation approach that includes increased train and bus services, park-and ride-facilities and integrated ticketing. After a year, they have seen a 50 percent decrease in morning commute time.
Easing jams in railways and airports
Both Netherlands Railways (US), one of the busiest national networks in Europe, and Aeroports De Paris (US), Europe's second-largest airport services group, use IBM software to choreograph equipment, facilities and the tens of thousands of variables that can influence passenger demand and asset availability—with the result of streamlining processes and improving performance times.
If our transportation providers—whether for city transit, long-distance travel or freight operations—can deliver the information and services that today's customers need, in the way and frequency they prefer, they can increase satisfaction and ultimately strengthen loyalty.
Travelers prefer to help themselves
Air Canada (US) is giving its passengers more choice with a variety of self-service channels: airport and off-site kiosks and applications for mobile devices such as smartphones. Travelers can book travel, check in, download boarding passes, get updates and stay informed throughout the journey.
Smarter systems offer additional opportunities to improve the traveler experience. For example, if we can collaborate with adjacent service providers, we can provide travelers with the ability to choose alternative modes of transport and provide them with information throughout the journey.
Making public transportation the obvious choice
With 4.5 million people riding buses and trains every day, Singapore (US) is trying to make public transit a seamless part of the rider's lifestyle by maximizing convenience and choice. With one SmartCard, a rider can use all modes of transportation, pay for parking and congestion charges as well as make small purchases.
A large part of our transportation infrastructure has been around for decades—the Long Island Railway, for example, is 175 years old—and transit officials often need to manage a complex mix of aging and newer assets. By analyzing the data from a smarter transportation system, we can know when equipment is overextended and needs repair. We can know the location and condition of assets at any given moment.
But it's about more than efficiency. In the United States, the transportation sector is estimated to create 32 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions and it is under tremendous pressure to establish overall greener operations.
Shipping company streamlines logistics
The China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) (US) is the world's second-largest shipping company in terms of capacity. COSCO engaged IBM to help it optimize its distribution network. The results? Reducing distribution centers from 100 to 40 with no impact on service quality; a 23 percent reduction in logistics costs; a 15 percent reduction in CO2 emissions.
The terrorist incident aboard a flight heading to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 was a sharp reminder that security remains the top issue for all transportation companies. In fact, airlines spend US$5.9 billion per year on security, and airports devote more than 60 percent of their operating cost to safety and security (ACI).
IBM is working with a variety of companies—freight and shipping, airlines and airports, and rapid transit—to use sensing technologies, video surveillance, biometric and other capabilities to develop smarter ways to safeguard passengers as they travel across the transportation network.
For example, an Italian parcel delivery service was able to reduce their security staff and increase the level of security for their 10 hub facilities by using an IBM solution that centrally monitors intrusion and includes access control readers, digital video and smoke detection.