Creating an (Innovation) Playbook for Urban Transportation

Thursday, January 19, 2017 3:06 pm EST

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Marcus Welz, CEO of Siemens Intelligent Traffic Systems

As a company that’s been working in transportation for nearly our 170 year history, with over 100 of those years in the U.S., we’ve seen a lot of changes in how Americans travel. Recently, this change has brought us to a point where our existing road infrastructure simply cannot handle the amount of vehicles. It’s put a strain a transportation infrastructure that is already stressed and aging rapidly. In turn, harmful emissions are rising and cities are struggling to support growing economies with lackluster infrastructure support. There needs to be a clear path forward that cities of any size and make-up can follow. That’s why we’re partnering with City Innovation Foundation to create a city “Playbook” to tackle transportation challenges, an initiative announced this week in conjunction with the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C.

Every city is different, and so are their challenges. But the one thing all have in common in that we’re in the midst of a transformational shift in the American driving experience. And the thing driving that transformation is technology. We now have the ability to equip our vehicles to be more intelligent, but it won’t just be the cars themselves that will be smarter. We can retrofit and digitalize existing traffic infrastructure like intersections and streetlights with the ability to “communicate” with vehicles, buses, or even pedestrians to help drivers make decisions that can reduce congestion and increase safety. These types of systems are called “Connected Vehicles”, a technology that the US DOT says could prevent 80 percent of unimpaired vehicle accidents and we’re already working on installations in cities like Tampa.

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City Innovative Foundation and its partners including Siemens will work with Miami-Dade County as part of its “Test & Learn Collider” to map out problems, identify use cases and explore how technology can provide an answer. This insight will be the basis of the Playbook and shared with cities across the country so they can develop solutions specific to their needs.

There is never a silver bullet to answer a problem, and this certainly stands true for transportation. But, technology offers us the opportunity look at many ways to vastly improve our systems that even 10 years ago we couldn’t have imagined. From Connected Vehicle technology to autonomous cars, it’s an exciting time to be a leader in the transportation space. We’re proud to begin our work as part of this important initiative that brings cities and community leaders, technology partners, and transportation experts together to help illuminate a “road” forward.

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