AI and IoT Can Help Solve the Transportation Crisis
Wed, April 14, 2021

AI and IoT Can Help Solve the Transportation Crisis

The worsening highway congestion across the world poses a lot of problems to the transportation sector. / Photo by: xxlphoto via 123rf


The global transportation sector has been facing unprecedented challenges. In the Philippines, which Asian Development Bank (ADB) reported as the “most congested city” out of 278 cities in developing Asia in 2019, suffered about 516 issues in their Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system in 2017. This was a total of 10 train problems in a week. Of these figures, 449 led to offloading, meaning passengers had to alight from the trains and walk along the MRT tracks.

The country’s Land Transportation Office reported that its National Capital Region accounted for the largest number of registered motor vehicles at 1,644,932 as of August 2019. The average daily number of private cars going through Manila’s main thoroughfare, EDSA, was 251,628, dwarfing the number of public utility buses, which was 13,356, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

The ADB report listed several transportation problems that not only the Philippines is experiencing but many countries as well. These included poor quality of road network, poor intermodal integration, weak sector governance and institutional capacity, lack of quality urban transport systems, and limited private investment in transport infrastructure. 

According to the National Academies Press, an online website that publishes authoritative reports issued by The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), the worsening highway congestion across the world poses a lot of problems to the transportation sector. The industry needs to maintain and upgrade a massive system of roads, bridges, ports, waterways, airports, and public transit while shifting in trade, energy, and funding sources that affect all modes of transportation.


Through IoT and AI-enabled solutions, cities can solve and improve many of the urban transportation issues. / Photo by: Ekkasit Keatsirikul via 123rf


How AI and IoT Can Help

This era has witnessed how AI and the Internet of Things have transformed several industries and brought change and improvement in the way we live. SafeAtLast, a consumer information site that offers free reviews and ratings of online services, reported that there are more devices connected to the internet than there are people on Earth since 2008. It is expected that there will be 75 billion IoT devices across the world by 2025, which is an increase from a mere 26.66 billion IoT devices in 2019. 

With the growth of IoT, various devices have found their use in the transportation industry. Smart gadgets are playing an integral role in carrying out important operations and making work more efficient and safer. They also perform a crucial role by collecting data from various channels, which will be analyzed to determine traffic patterns. This can help in finding innovative ideas to simplify the most often taken roads and transportation systems.

At the same time, advanced AI is providing city officials with remarkable insights regarding the problems that metropolitan people are suffering from. According to Seagate, a company that deals in storage solutions and provides hard drives and products that connect people with their content, many cities across the world are turning to connected devices to gather data and get insights about the status of numerous factors important to efficiently serving the needs of citizens. For instance, the advancement in machine learning is giving us great information about urban-related problems, which we can use to address them. The increase of low-price sensors is also helping us to think of more effective ways to monitor and actively manage traffic using real-time data.

Through IoT and AI-enabled solutions, cities can solve and improve many of the urban transportation issues. Real-time parking sensors, for instance, can optimize the availability of parking slots by showing the drivers where the nearest parking is without going around blindly. Finding parking in a short time can reduce both traffic jams and air pollution. The technologies can also collect data that help in planning maintenance and improvements in the road and public network efficiently. 

According to IIoT World, an online site that covers the economic and technological implications of the transformation taking place as IIoT proliferates throughout the enterprise, the collected data through IoT and AI can generate insights and automation that we could never think otherwise. This can help cities in planning better decisions based on data and facts and developing devices to help solve transportation problems. 

IoT and AI Applications

Global logistics provider DHL suggested an application for AI and the IoT: optimizing operations. Its 2016 “Logistics Trend Radar” reported that cities can study traffic patterns and “optimize business practices such as sending out police forces only during peak rush hours, having maintenance crews repair roads that get the most travel, and deploying sanitation crews to clean public areas only when needed.”

According to Supply Chain Game Changer, an online site that provides insights, trends, and solutions for supply chain and business professionals in all industries, AI and the IoT can mitigate costly repairs and downtime. For instance, it can alert drivers with maintenance issues and can increase the lifetime value of the vehicle. Daniel Dombach at Zebra Technologies, a company that manufactures and sells marking, tracking, and computer printing technologies, stated that transportation companies can use IoT to proactively respond to maintenance issues and at the same time, assess inventory records and parts availability.

The advancement of IoT and AI-enabled solutions can eventually lead to driverless vehicles, which can help in cutting costs and improving road safety. George Zarkadakis at Willis Towers Watson, an Irish-domiciled global multinational risk management, insurance brokerage, and advisory company, stated that this could potentially lead to the full automation of truck fleets.

Indeed, IoT and AI are massively affecting transportation management. Without these technologies, congestion and hazardous conditions will get worse across the world. They need to be properly and effectively utilized in planning for infrastructure upgrades and intelligent traffic management systems.