Priscilla Nagashima Boyd, Senior Manager, Data Analytics
Recently, I had the honor to present at the National
Conference of State Legislatures Smart Communities Summit about
transport innovation and data-driven initiatives.
I live in Austin, Texas,
where we have roughly 3,000 electric scooters in the city. They are a great
option for short trips, require less parking space, are cost-effective and
better for the environment. But there are downsides, too, including accidents
involving pedestrians and scooters abandoned all over the city. It’s a careful
balancing act for cities to adopt new technologies without creating policies so
stringent they deter innovation.
Prior to moving to Austin,
I spent 10 years working in the UK, where I worked very closely with governments
to introduce more R&D. This collaboration enabled the acceleration of new
ideas and technologies by the private sector. For government, it allowed private-sector
investment in technologies that could reduce road congestion while improving
air quality and safety.
When I returned to the
U.S., though, I learned that most cities lack the bandwidth to explore new
ideas with the private sector, either because of rigid procurement rules or due
to lack of resources.
Now think about the scooter
example. If those scooter companies could easily engage with the public sector
to share their plans and ideate together, local government could influence
developments, anticipate disruptions sooner and ensure innovations have a
positive impact on citizens’ lives.
At Siemens Intelligent
Traffic Systems Digital Lab in Austin, we focus on innovation using data
science, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Cities already have
systems and infrastructure in place which generate a lot of data, and we look
for opportunities to use that data to solve practical problems.
For example, Lisbon, Portugal now has a very successful bike sharing scheme that’s been in operation for over eight years. It’s a mix of electric and conventional bikes, dock-based and dock less. For the dock-based bikes, the City sends vans throughout the day to move bikes around the city – particularly to higher trafficked areas – to make it easier for folks to find bikes when they need them.
so often they couldn’t predict demand. Maybe there was a change in weather or a
special event in the city – this meant that people would sometimes get to a
dock and find no bicycles available. The result was use of shared ride services
that exacerbated the traffic and frustration from citizens who relied on this
mode of transportation.
To solve the
issue, our ITS Digital Lab built an application that combined data from
historic bike trips, historic weather and events to provide an “engine” that
could predict demand for scooters up to 4 hours in advance. With the ability to
predict demand, the City could plan their operations more efficiently to ensure
the docks had bikes when most needed. This helped increase revenue as well.
We did this work
in an iterative and agile way, using design thinking processes, with the City
at the core of what we do without having to enter complex procurement
agreements in advance. Neither us nor the City knew whether we could solve the
problem before we started – but both parties put effort into it, and we got to
a solution that ultimately benefited both sides.
The field of artificial
intelligence is evolving quickly. The beauty of what we are doing at the ITS
Digital Lab is that we can bring data-driven innovation through the outputs of
projects that are evolving the field of AI and machine learning every single
day. We take specific problems, analyze the data available and then bring our data
science expertise to address the problems.
It’s now time to bring
emerging technology to the physical world, the critical infrastructure cities
rely on every day. Let’s take the amazing research that academia has done in
the U.S. and use it to solve practical problems that can help our citizens.
And that’s what Siemens is
doing with our ITS Digital Lab: helping cities use AI to improve the quality
and safety of transportation. The U.S. has enormous potential to lead
data-driven innovation. With new partnerships between cities and technology
companies – and by modernizing procurement rules to really speed things up – we
can start advancing the projects and solutions that growing cities need for the
#siemensmobility #NCSL #mydigitalcity
article was originally published on Siemens