smart cities

Smart Cities – Digital Transformation Making Urban Life Easier

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Making modern cities more liveable is a global focus, as urban populations expand and transport congestion grows, technology is now stepping in to improve urban life around the world.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) a leading global IT services, consulting and business solutions organization and Gfi Informatique, a major vendor of value-added IT services and software, this week announced a Proof of Concept for the City of Belfort, France using big data analytics to optimize urban bus transportation.

The solution is a collaboration between the city’s Board of Public Transportation, Gfi Informatique and TCS. It will support Belfort’s smart city strategy, which aims to help local authorities deploy digital transformation projects.

This innovative smart city initiative is a result of a joint investment by Gfi Informatique and TCS Digital Software & Solutions Group. The companies are deploying TCS’ Intelligent Urban Exchange software to help city administrators and public transportation planners make more informed decisions through insights from historical and real time data.

Both companies have worked with the city to enhance the capture and treatment of large amounts of information using big data analytics solutions designed specifically to help public sector customers, with the overall goal of driving further digital innovation across the city.

Over the last several years, the transportation environment in cities around the world has become more complex, while the need for greater integration has expanded. In the face of these changes, cities such as Belfort are embracing smart city technology to optimise transportation services with existing or diminishing resources, without significantly impacting their carbon footprint.

As a mid-sized city with a population of just over 50,000, Belfort is an innovator in deploying advanced technologies to improve city services. Working with the city’s Board of Public Transportation, which is at the vanguard of smart city innovation, the companies have been able to establish a pioneering solution to a common challenge facing cities of all sizes.

“We were eager to participate in this experiment to make Belfort more attractive to citizens and support the economy,” said Yannick Monnier, Director of the Board of Public Transportation of Belfort. “The results were very conclusive. The experiment allowed us to optimize our transportation network and realize savings. It was such a big success that it could be duplicated to improve not only transportation but also other major city services such as water, waste collection and electricity,” he added.

In order to develop the Proof of Concept, Belfort provided daily bus transportation information collected from the city’s bus lines, such as billing and ticketing data. This data was managed and analyzed using TCS’ Intelligent Urban Exchange software, supported by Gfi Informatique’s public sector domain expertise and data analytics resources.

The Proof of Concept covers three scenarios for providing city officials with concrete data in order to make smarter, informed decisions for improving service on more than 100 buses traveling on the city’s five bus routes:

  • Measuring the speed of buses – The solution measures the speed of buses on route sections and between each stop on a daily, weekly and monthly basis per hour. The objective is to detect network congestion points and put in place the appropriate changes, such as increased frequency of stops over specific time periods. Previously, city officials lacked the data to make evidence-based recommendations backed by multiple transportation system data sources.
  • Passenger flow – Like many cities in the world, Belfort employs a flat rate bus ticketing system that determines the moment when passengers board buses but not when they depart. Capturing this passenger flow data is a challenge for many cities yet it’s critical to the understanding of how bus lines are actually used.
  • Density and the number of passengers travelling per kilometer for a particular route – Due to the city’s ticketing system, administrators couldn’t determine how many people used which bus routes. The Proof of Concept provides this data so officials can now make data-driven decisions, such as the removal of an infrequently trafficked stop on a route.

Following the Proof of Concept, the Board of Public Transportation of Belfort is now able to establish new scenarios to improve city transportation. In particular, the city is exploring ways by which digital innovation can help address pressing issues such as changing the frequency of buses along particular lines to optimize the bus network, projecting the savings resulting from new road construction projects and ways of reducing the cost of running the bus network.

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Kirstie Magowan

Kirstie Magowan is the managing editor of IT Chronicles. Kirstie is an experienced journalist and publisher who has been working in the IT Service Management industry since 1999. Kirstie is a regular speaker at industry conferences globally.