Cities, small and large, can share the same mobility solutions

Evgeny Klochikhin
Jul 30, 2019 · 4 min read

When most people think about smart cities, they envision cutting-edge technology in San Francisco and Singapore. But there’s no reason why smaller cities can’t also benefit from the new mobility solutions.

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Every city, small and large, can benefit from same technology solutions regardless of their respective budgets.

Ultimately, smart mobility isn’t about cities. It’s about people — and that means smaller cities can benefit just as much as any large metropolis.

Smart mobility represents the future of transportation. And it’s designed for everyone, everywhere.

Smart mobility for small cities

It can sometimes be difficult to pin down what, exactly, smart mobility means. Smart mobility solutions may encompass everything from connected traffic lights to solutions that make it easier to find parking. The common denominator is this: Smart mobility solutions use connectivity — integrated information and communication technology (ICT) systems — to improve transportation systems. Another way to think about it is that smart mobility brings the Internet of Things (IoT) to transportation.

Smart mobility solutions can be implemented for many different modes of transportation: cars, public buses, bicycles, etc. Even the pedestrian experience can be enhanced with smart mobility solutions such as motion sensors at crosswalks.

Since smart mobility isn’t limited to any single mode of transportation, cities and towns of all sizes can implement these solutions. A large city with an extensive bus system and five-lane freeways can move towards smart mobility, but so can a town of 50,000 people with a much less complex infrastructure. In some cases, it might actually be easier for the smaller city to transition towards smart mobility.

There are special challenges for smaller cities. They have smaller budgets to work with, so city planners have to be judicious when implementing new solutions. Broadband connectivity can pose a limitation for small cities in more rural areas. Infrastructure-based IoT devices require a reliable broadband connection in order to operate effectively.

Still, there are many exciting possibilities for smaller cities looking to move towards smart urban management. In many cases, smart mobility solutions can be deployed across states and cities. Parkofon’s parking solution, for example, is not designed for any single city — it is fully digital without the need to deploy any expensive infrastructure. Small city residents can use the system to find parking in their own downtown areas.

Smart mobility focuses on people

Many smaller cities think they can’t use fancy technology that was first developed for larger cities. However, this reflects a fundamental misconception about the purpose of smart mobility.

Smart mobility doesn’t exist for cities in the abstract. It’s for people. That’s why small cities can benefit from smart solutions already paid for by their bigger counterparts.

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Stressed drivers make for bad voters and consumers.

When we look at the current smart mobility landscape, it’s clear that the most effective solutions are people-centered. Think about digital toll booths, or apps that help people to find parking more effectively. These solutions don’t require major overhauls to infrastructure. The bulk of the cost lies in the technology itself, which can scale down to meet the needs of a small city but has already been piloted in a bigger location.

Small cities don’t have to invest a fortune to implement a smart parking system (or another mobility solution) that benefits people. Once the basic technology is there, it doesn’t matter how many people will be using it.

Although smart mobility began in larger cities, its utility extends far beyond large urban areas.

How smaller cities are progressing towards smart mobility

A 2016 survey from IHS Markit and the U.S. Conference of Mayors reveals that many small and mid-sized cities are working on smart city initiatives. Oftentimes, these initiatives are centered around transportation.

Ketchum, Idaho has a population of less than 3,000 according to the most recent census. Yet it has made strides with smart mobility. One project, the “Walkable Ketchum Project,” is making the city more friendly to pedestrian. The city is implementing “smart” solar streetlights in the downtown area. Since the streetlights have sensors, they can automatically dim and brighten as needed. This will save energy while also improving safety.

Mid-sized cities are also implementing smart solutions. Columbus, Ohio — which has around 850,000 residents — has received multiple grants for smart mobility projects. One initiative is to develop a mobility app that makes it easier for low-income parents to find transportation to healthcare facilities. The city also plans to improve transportation access more broadly.

The Smart Columbus Operating System (SCOS) is enabling Columbus’ transition into a smart city. This system collects real time data about what’s going on in the city and is then used to manage public transportation, flow of traffic, water and waste management, and many other important city functions. The city is beginning to collect data on cars and infrastructure, which will lead to greater connectivity in the future.

Overall, small cities account for about 28% of all smart city projects. These cities are demonstrating that the smart solutions being deployed in large cities can also be utilized elsewhere — even in a town as small as Ketchum, Idaho.

Smart mobility represents the future of transportation. And it’s designed for everyone, everywhere.

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Evgeny Klochikhin

Written by

Evgeny Klochikhin, PhD is the CEO of Parkofon, a smart mobility company building a fully connected #MaaS platform. Innovation scholar, data scientist, engineer.

Predict

where the future is written

Evgeny Klochikhin

Written by

Evgeny Klochikhin, PhD is the CEO of Parkofon, a smart mobility company building a fully connected #MaaS platform. Innovation scholar, data scientist, engineer.

Predict

where the future is written

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