How the Location of Things Will Transform Cities
Tomorrow's cities will look much different than today because there will be no more traffic lights. The intelligent city infrastructure of the future promises a world of unprecedented connectivity. If cars, or whatever we use to transport people, are broadcasting their location, speed, direction and intended destination to other transporters, and there is no need for human intervention, traffic lights would truly be as anachronistic as the corner phone booth.
Planning for a world without traffic signals presents city planners with new possibilities for managing the built environment. Intelligent infrastructure management (IIM) solutions attempt to integrate sensor technology and location-based data with traditional asset management operations to empower public entities, and those serving public entities, with the insight to make informed decisions on repair, maintenance and investment for critical public infrastructure assets. These are the tedious but essential tasks of "smart cities" and the deployment of hardware and software that will make IIM a critical management tool.
The "flight" plan for connected cars
Today, there are many cities that alert commuters to arriving and departing transit vehicles such as busses and trains. But what can be expected when connected, autonomous vehicles impact the nature of traffic? Cities might require commuters to submit their destination plan so that traffic, parking and local construction or repair sites can accommodate the extra burden on the street network. The advantage to the passenger is that the vehicle knows exactly the best route and where parking would be available in closest proximity to the individual's destination. Think of the time saved by not having to fight congestion and then look for available parking. As such, vehicles entering central business districts (CDB) would be platooned. In much the same way as aircraft flight plans are used to manage traffic flying into an airline hub, vehicles might also encounter such requirements or impediments, and, if circumstances prohibit, delayed departures might ensue. The connected infrastructure would support the management of intermodal traffic.
Vehicles would be platooned in a way as to control traffic, parking and delivery points. The delivery of passengers would alter depots, address point locations and transit hubs. The landscape of CBD's for retail and citizen services would change to accommodate new pedestrian thoroughfares.
The Location of Things
The sensor infrastructure required to support new modes of transportation and the changing nature of a CBD encompasses both fixed and mobile assets. Where there were once traffic signals now there are motion, RFID and other passive sensors that detect size, speed and direction of vehicles. Narrowband IoT is one possible mechanism that could handle the sensor load using a part of the LTE spectrum that would not burden newer 5G microcells.
One early option for cities would be to pilot a part of the CBD for autonomous vehicles only. These connected transporters would enter a connected environment and relinquish control to a transportation management center. As such the data loads would become voluminous. Geospatial big data processing would be required to integrate, manage and analyze data from sensor networks and support traffic managers through machine learning solutions. Spectrum Spatial for Big Data fits well into this enterprise approach to managing the volume of data presented by the location of things in a connected world.