Urenio Watch Watch: Intelligent Cities / Smart Cities

Workshop on Intelligent Transportation Systems

An ICT workshop on the intelligent governance of large urban system was held recently in Dubai, by EPFL Middle East, a unit of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. This was the first in a series of planned workshops on the topic, and it provided an overview of the management  and governance of transportation systems accross the greater Middle East region. The workshop explored the present as well as the future role of ICTs in urban transportation systems, based on specific examples from the Gulf Countries region.

The workshop included more than 15 senior and high-profile participants from across the Guld Region, but Portugal and Switzerland as well. Participants included policy-makers from the municipal and local governments, academics and private sector representatives from the fields of ICT, engineering, construction and transport companies. The participants gathered to consider and identify the role ICTs can play in making transportation systems more efficient and less congested. Some of the key issues were how intelligence can be embedded into transportation systems, how ICT’s can be leveraged to improve mobility, in which ways ICT’s can help improve the governance of transportation systems, and how intelligent systems can be used so that users become more active participants in governance.  The idea behind the workshop was to cultivate the creation of a community of regional experts in intelligent transport management and governance.

Some interesting statements from the workshop:

Nikolas Geroliminis, associated professor from EPFL, said: “We have been able to bring together colleagues from academia with diversity in background (Political Science, Computer Science, Civil Engineering) and location (Switzerland, Portugal, UAE), decision makers and public authorities plus ICT companies with strong reputation.’

“The different transportation applications related to ICT were discussed under the same umbrella (logistics, shared transportation, service on demand, traffic management, future cities, etc.).

“The key outcomes of the workshop demonstrated that well-developed cities in the UAE that have excellent infrastructure and Smart Technologies can utilize ICT to provide better operations and less congestion, by centralizing the different sources of data (e.g. taxi data, public transport data, loop detector data).

“While smart traffic management strategies can decrease delays by at least 15 per cent and keep pace with increase in travel demand without a need for more infrastructure.”

Dr Franco Vigliotti, dean of EPFL Middle East, said: “ICT will increasingly shape and enable the deployment of smart, sustainable transportation systems; from individual assisted mobility, to clustered and distributed intelligence enhancing collective flows in large urban environments.’

“The implementation of the PRT demonstrator in Masdar City and the Metro in Dubai are great examples of the technologies available today. The workshop reflected on the new drivers that will shape tomorrow’s transportation, such as those developed in the 37 laboratories of the Transportation Center of EPFL,’ he added.

The two days where structured around the inputs of the participants with each participant required to make an active contribution by presenting their area of expertise and participating in discussions.

Dr Sgouris Sgouridis, assistant professor of Engineering Systems and Management at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, said: “The EPFL ME organised workshop brought together key stakeholders on transportation ICT policy, industry and research in a unique way for the UAE.’

“Such open exchange of ideas can lead to a coordination of approaches across the Emirates leading to a significantly more sustainable, integrated and user friendly transportation system,’ Dr Sgouridis concluded.

“Further workshops of a similar format will be held in 2012 and will cover intelligent urban energy, water, and environmental systems,” said Prof Matthias Finger, the organiser of the workshops, professor at EPFL Switzerland and director of Executive Education at EPFL Middle East.

The original report can be found here.