Traffic Management for a Smarter Nigeria

The number of vehicles on the world’s roads is expected to double to around 2.5 billion by 20501. But rather than increase congestion, pollution, collisions and commuter angst as you’d expect, just the opposite may come to pass.
How could there be more vehicles but less traffic in the future? Governments certainly aren’t pouring money–and concrete–into building more roads. Today, technology is revolutionizing just about everything imaginable about how we get from point A to point B.
Armed with data from sensors in roads and vehicles, cities are already using predictive analytics to anticipate and reduce traffic congestion. Drivers use social media to detect and avoid gridlock. City planners analyze data to pinpoint where new bus routes are most needed. Even the way we park is being reinvented.
Cities worldwide face rapid growth and mounting transportation challenges. But that growth also provides opportunities to build intelligent transportation systems that will fundamentally improve how cities manage and citizens use their transportation networks.

The promise of the ‘connected car’
Data is the fuel that drives intelligent transportation systems–and today traffic-related data pours in from everywhere: GPS trackers, social media posts, mobile phones and cameras located in cars and on the street. Cities capture and analyze data from all these sources as well as thousands of sensors embedded in roads and vehicles to monitor and manage traffic in real time.
The Dutch city of Eindhoven, for instance, worked with IBM to pilot a traffic management solution that collects and merges braking, acceleration and location data from in-vehicle sensors with traffic data gathered from the road.

Using cloud technology and analytics, the disparate data from thousands of sensors enabled officials to respond to dangerous road conditions, accidents or growing traffic density in near real-time. The solution also alerts drivers of traffic incidents through smartphones and built-in navigation devices, allowing them to find alternate routes.
As automakers continue to embed advanced sensors in vehicles, “connected cars” may in fact become essential to solving the world’s traffic problems. IBM is helping Volkswagen advance this concept in Wolfsburg, Germany, where geospatial data generated by vehicles helps the town see traffic density and patterns in real time and make immediate, informed decisions. VW’s connected car also offers personalized guidance to drivers, such as ideal departure time and the best route to avoid traffic jams.
And following right behind the connected car? The Internet of Cars, of course–and the self-driving car, which will feature ever-more advanced technologies that will enhance traffic management and the driving experience.

Tweets and apps steer transportation decisions

What if a status update on a social media site could be used to help authorities determine whether to reroute a city bus and avoid a traffic snarl for riders? People connected to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks often tweet or post about accidents, congestion, detours and just about any other traffic matter–providing invaluable real-time data for traffic management.

The city of Toulouse, France deployed a solution that collects and analyzes its citizens’ social media comments about city planning and traffic issues so authorities can be more responsive to pressing needs. As a result, Toulouse has accelerated its average response time to road-maintenance issues by 93 percent, from 15 days to just one day.

Mobile technology also gives cities a powerful tool to discover and quickly resolve traffic issues and to enhance route planning and traffic navigation for citizens and visitors.

IBM’s Access My City solution helps people find accessible transportation and plan a public transit or walking route. The solution brings together real-time transit data, geo-location and mapping technologies and publicly available accessibility information and delivers it to mobile devices.

Piloted in New York City, Access My City removes barriers to urban transit for senior citizens, families with small children, people with disabilities and anyone else who needs to locate ramps, elevators and escalators.

Access My City is a prime example of how technology helps aggregate real-time data to enhance everything from an intermodal commute to a stroll around town.


The economic costs of congestion

Making the daily commute more bearable is a big deal. But intelligent transportation technologies provide cities an opportunity to address long-range policy goals as well. By monitoring traffic performance and patterns over time, cities can make significant progress in cutting congestion, emissions and noise; determine where to place buses and build mass transit stations to ensure they operate at full capacity; and improve emergency vehicle response times.

Congestion is costly on so many fronts. Commuters waste precious time and burn away money in fuel costs, traffic accidents are more likely, and cities become less desirable to businesses and new residents.

Cities that invest in smarter transportation systems can see a clear return on their investment not only in reduced transport network and infrastructure costs, but enhanced business and economic growth. For instance, reducing congestion by 25 percent equals $185 billion in savings in the United States and can increase retail sales by six percent2.

Of course, the ultimate ROI for intelligent transportation solutions is a more livable city and better quality of life for all its citizens. Less gridlock, cleaner air, reliable mass transit: that’s the kind of place where people want to live, work and shop—and it’s attainable for any city with today’s technologies.

Improved transport policies can drive economic growth for our cities

We already know that good transport links can make a huge difference to the economic success of a city; but cities don’t need to just wait for new infrastructure to come along, which in most cases will take years to get off the drawing board to receiving funding and for construction to complete.

In fact in many cases, cities don’t even need to wait for government to release funding or make changes to policy or regulations, to take action. Research released found that many cities abroad have found ways around the often confusing array of regulations, funding pots and organisations involved, to provide improved transport provisions for the city or region. Indeed, some of the greatest success stories have been where the partners have worked across city or regional boundaries, and not let policy be dictated by authority boundaries.

Ours is often viewed as a special case and a dream to aspire to by other cities when it comes to planning, economic development and transport regulation. Indeed, our integrated transport system has made a huge difference to people finding work and supporting the city’s economic growth and address environmental considerations.

The report does recommend that the Government give other cities, such as minimum 5-year transport funding settlements and support for all cities to use their existing revenue raising powers to ensure that local transport services meet local needs, it also highlights a number of best practice examples from across the country that cities can learn from and implement now.

For example, Nottingham  in UK, has not only introduced a smart ticketing system along the lines of the London Oyster card, it also established a Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme (SQPS). All the city’s private bus companies had to qualify for the SQPS to use the city’s bus stops, and so could be regulated through this to improve the bus service for passengers. While there were undoubtedly challenges to putting these provisions in place, Nottingham should be commended for finding a solution by flexing its existing powers within the current system to improve the bus service.

Brand new transport infrastructure can take decades to deliver, and no doubt many cities feel that seeing changes from government can sometimes take just as long. It can be all too easy to sit back and wait for them to decide transport policy for a state. But I would argue that there are already cities up and down the country that have found ways to make improvements and take action now, and so it’s a case of sharing best practice and learning from each other to get cities moving. Otherwise as the country’s economy picks up, cities that don’t take action and find ways to work with partners or pool resources, risk being left behind.


Is there really a better way to deliver fast track projects

Is there really a better way to deliver fast track projects? The simple answer is yes—if you create a culture of collaboration.

But just how is that accomplished?

Well, here is a practical, actionable advice for implementing that solution, including:

  • Project charter: Formally define what “success” means by creating and adhering to a “project charter” at the project onset. The charter should make clear what the project’s goals are so the team fully understands what outcome are expected for the project to achieve success.
  • Upfront planning: Take appropriate time at the beginning of a project to properly plan all activities and milestones before any execution occurs. “Before we go fast, we have to go slow”
  • Full team engagement: Assemble the entire team at the beginning of the process, including disciplines that typically are involved at later stages (eg, construction and CQV). Be sure to include local governments (eg, for permitting issues) early also.
  • Defined roles and responsibilities: Assigning titles does not work. Clearly define the responsibilities of every role on the project so no ambiguity exists about what is expected from each person.  “You cannot over-communicate the expectations for any role.”
  • Permanent team: To ensure consistency and perspective, the same individuals providing the same voice are required to participate from project beginning to end.  “If the same people are not onsite all the time, you will never achieve continuity.”
  • Collective team buy-in: Acknowledge that most team members have their “day job” to work on as the project proceeds. Nevertheless, they must understand that to effectively participate, they must be committed and take accountability for their assigned role at every step in the process.
  • Team co-location: The entire team must be geographically placed in one location. Electronic meetings and communications are not as effective as physically siting a group together, which promotes optimal communication, collaboration, and issue resolution. “The most successful fast track projects I have worked on involved the entire team working from one spot.”
  • Strong project management: A highly capable project manager is critical for consistently keeping a schedule on track, maintaining open communication lines, handling personality conflicts, and keeping all stakeholders focused on project objectives and moving forward.
  • Appropriate tools: Establish reliable collaboration methods and then develop the necessary tools, including project execution plan, integrated project schedule, schedule risk analysis, and building information model (BIM). Every successful project today must have a strong BIM—it serves as the backbone of the project.”

Finally, the most important requirement for generating an environment that produces a successful fast track project is owner commitment. A fast track project only succeeds when an owner is fully invested in the above practices and objectives. The owner is the pivotal contributor to establishing the right tone, promoting teamwork, and creating that culture of collaboration.