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How edge computing will drive intelligent transportation

Fujitsu EMEIA’s Rabih Arzouni explores how edge computing will bring breakthroughs in areas such as journey planning, to take smart routing to another level.

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Edge computing will help transport operators better manage data traffic
Edge computing will help transport operators better manage data traffic

As we rapidly progress towards a digital world, more of the devices that we have come to rely on will become connected.

 

Although this has the potential to transform how individuals and businesses interact, too many connections means we will likely hit a point where the cloud is not able to process and analyse all of the data generated as quickly as it has done previously.

 

The good news is that innovative technology such as edge computing is helping to overcome this.

 

On-demand demands

 

Currently, much of the focus on edge computing has come from the need for Internet of Things (IoT) systems to deliver disconnected or distributed capabilities into the embedded IoT world for many industries – not least the transport sector.

 

This trend has been gaining momentum for some time now, especially in response to the growing need for mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) solutions across the sector. As a result of today’s on-demand society – fuelled by the mass of new ride-sharing and e-hailing services like Uber and MyTaxi – the transport sector is entering an accelerated period of delivering robust smart mobility services, with this technology becoming an integral part of the phenomenon.

 

Impact of smart cities

 

Smart cities are just one example in which data-driven technologies have become steadily more ingrained into our way of life. But with the amount of data being generated only set to grow, transport operators will need to find ways to deal with this traffic more efficiently.

 

Fortunately, edge computing is increasing the opportunities for the transport industry to drive more connected, coordinated and intelligent solutions across cities.

 

For one, it will allow for much of the data being collected across cities to be processed much closer to its source. This would mean less traffic is needed to be directed to the cloud, in turn, helping to reduce overall traffic loads.

 

"Edge computing is increasing the opportunities for the transport industry to drive more connected, coordinated and intelligent solutions across cities."

 

Take smart routing as an example of this. Although currently in its infancy, it already provides some invaluable benefits. After all, we’ve all checked traffic congestion before embarking on a journey – changing our route after seeing that we’ll be sat in a traffic jam, as a result of an accident earlier in the day.

 

It is important to note that smartphone mapping apps and some in-car navigation systems already offer basic dynamic route calculations. Whilst great for longer journeys – such as hundreds of miles – these are less useful for when you’re a few miles from the office and stuck in an hour-long traffic jam during rush hour.

 

These devices use algorithms to calculate an optimal route to your destination, based primarily on data shared by other travellers, as well as other sources of information, such as weather reports.

 

Although useful, these applications have their limitations; especially when a driver is put on a route that involves initially heading in the opposite direction from a destination.

 

"We could see routes suggested that take into account the additional air or noise pollution caused by growing traffic volumes and the detrimental effect it has on a local neighbourhood"

 

What’s more, when coupled with other technology – such as 5G for example - the advent of edge computing will enable breakthroughs in route planning and optimisation, taking intelligent routing to another level. This doesn’t just include considering the status of traffic and weather on a proposed route, but many other factors.

 

For example, we could see routes suggested that take into account the additional air or noise pollution caused by growing traffic volumes and the detrimental effect it has on a local neighbourhood. It could also consider other social factors, such as the risks of larger amounts of traffic using back streets as short cuts, or cars driving past schools at times of day when there are very likely to be children on the streets.

 

What’s next?

 

As consumer demands evolve, transport operators face a huge challenge in delivering seamless and high-quality services that meet customer expectations. Fundamentally, this means innovative digital services that make travelling not just as easy as possible, but also as pleasant as possible.

 

Edge computing has the potential to radically change the way we travel today and in the future. If transport providers can work together to harness this exciting new technology to the benefit of themselves and their customers, travel as we know it will be unrecognisable from what was on offer a decade ago.

 

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