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Cloud Perspectives

Urban gridlock should be an anachronism in today’s world of sleek design, customer data and continual optimization. Yet as any commuter knows, that’s not the case. Fixed workday schedules and driving indignities such as bad weather, car trouble and accidents make driving a challenging experience. Meanwhile, public transportation users must research and navigate their own course using buses, subways and railways, among other travel options.

There has to be a better way in an era of digital transformation. Fortunately, urban planners and IT experts are applying technology to transportation to address decades-long issues that are worsening in an era of accelerating urbanization.

In this new model, people connect with technology to become a dynamic human supply chain. Sensors, video cameras, smart vehicles, pervasive connectivity and cloud systems interweave to create connected transportation systems. These systems gather continual updates on real-time traffic and weather conditions to optimize daily people movement. They also enable IT teams to perform analytics on integrated open, public and private data sets to identify accident patterns, predict where fatalities are likely to occur and make changes to street design and other factors to reduce injuries and death. With the Internet of Things and machine learning, traffic will get safer overall.

Cities around the world are getting “smart” about transportation. Here are three success stories:

Increasing mobility in Miami

Miami is the seventh-most congested city in the U.S. As part of the CityNext initiative, Miami-Dade County government planners are modernizing revenue management with Cubic’s EASY Card system based on the Microsoft Azure platform. Customers can book, route and pay for transportation across bus, train, and bike-share and ride-share services by tapping fare readers with mobile phones or contactless bankcards. Travelers save time, while the system optimizes the flow of 300,000 people each day.

Seeing transportation options in real time

Solving traffic woes is difficult when travelers are in the middle of them. Washington, D.C.-based TransitScreen, powered by Azure technology, aims to minimize the daily strain of commuting. The company displays real-time transportation options on large monitors in city buildings, much as airports display flight information in gate areas. The screens are currently found in 1,000 buildings across 35 U.S. cities, as well as in Dublin, Paris and Toronto. Founder Ryan Croft says that his goal is to reduce commuter dependence on single-occupancy vehicles by promoting greater use of public transportation.

Charting a course around backups

Auckland, New Zealand, is a city of scenic coastal beauty – and narrow roads. The Auckland Transport agency has built online services and apps based on the Microsoft Cloud to help residents find the fastest route to their destinations, whether they are driving or using buses, trains or ferries. That’s important, because the city’s population is booming, and 800 new cars join the roads every week.

Want to learn more? Get information about the Microsoft CityNext initiative and see which smart cities are leveraging the Microsoft cloud to fuel a transportation renaissance.