Top Transport Policies Driving the Future of Smart City Success

Want to take the Highroad to smart city success? Learn which transport policies every smart city should implement, today.  The transformation of any bustling metropolis into a smart city essentially turns the urban area into a competitive economy that more and more people want to work in, partner with, and call home. That being said, introducing new urban tech for more informed city dwelling does not equal resolving any existing congestion challenges. In fact, the sheer knowledge that a city’s infrastructure has been adapted to make the daily commute data-driven can have the opposite effect: it can attract more cars to back up on existing roads, creating significant traffic buildup that is unfriendly to the environment, the budget and the drivers’ morale.
When transforming any city into a smart city, there is a very real and inherent need for the municipality to adopt and implement supportive transport policies geared towards making access to and travel within the city as smooth and as seamless as can be. These policies must necessarily make it attractive for commuters to travel via public transport, carpools, rideshares, or via some other eco-friendly method (cycling, walking, etc.), instead of alone in private cars.

Here are some top policies smart city authorities can implement to drive the future of their municipality’s success:

Strategically reallocate transport budgets to promote eco-friendly and multi-modal travel

Existing transport budgets tend to focus on building and repairing roads. And that’s great! After all, connecting low-density areas to urban centers is key to enabling more people to access smart cities for business and pleasure. That being said, it also adds to the congestion problem, as it introduces more cars to the same urban area. To truly become smart, cities must implement policies that strategize how to best reallocate these funds from road building to promoting the use of public and multi-modal travel systems.

Did you know that buses generate just 20% of the carbon monoxide and 10% of the hydrocarbons per passenger-mile than a single-occupancy car? It’s true. Public transport is good for the environment, and has the added benefit of helping to relieve significant urban congestion. As such, investments should be made into connecting first and last-mile travel solutions, such as bicycle and scooter shares and public transport systems with smart city infrastructure. This way, more people would be encouraged to leave their private cars at home and travel in a manner that enables them to reach their final destination efficiently and with minimum impact on the environment. 

Align municipal departments and teams for collaborative planning

When the various departments governing a municipality work as singular, independent units, important agenda items are bound to be lost in the shuffle. A policy that has all departments and teams align their goals, operations and budgets, and engage in ongoing communication regarding smart city planning and development can help ensure that the city’s infrastructure and flow are optimized for the smartest, most efficient use of time, money and human resources. 

The result: smarter planning of routes connecting residential areas to essential services, such as schools, commercial centers and healthcare facilities, more informed public transit route planning, to ensure buses and trains travel through and stop where needed and at appropriate times, and more.

Incentivize the use of alternative modes of transport

To successfully encourage commuters to leave their cars at home and utilize alternative, more sustainable and congestion-suppressing modes of transport, incentivization is key. Commuters must truly feel it is worth their while to use public transport. For instance, in Israel, commuters can park their cars in large lots outside of Tel Aviv and enjoy quick and streamlined public transport directly to the country’s epicenter, via buses traveling on a dedicated “fast lane” that private cars must pay a hefty fee to use. This incentive has been proven successful, with tenders for the construction of two more fast lanes issued in early 2019.

Conversely, commuters can be discouraged from traveling into smart cities on their own, by introducing road pricing (tolls) on roads leading to urban centers. Ideally, policies should be implemented to charge drivers seeking to drive private cars on these roads, in a manner that is proportional to the amount of pollution their vehicle generates and/or the current state of congestion on the road. The element of surprise, not knowing exactly how much you’ll be charged to drive, can be a significant deterrent that motivates commuters to seek more sustainable transport options.

Establish innovation competitions that allow for private-public sector partnerships

Finally, to truly drive the future of smart city success, municipalities should establish policies that promote transport innovation by industry-leading start-ups and companies. Creating competitions that allow private sector developments to be integrated within the public sector turns resolving existing transport and congestion challenges into an exciting and attractive research and development opportunity and allows more minds and hands to attempt to identify and implement the best possible solutions.

Highroad seeks to realize the future of urban tech innovation, from conception, through implementation. Through three annual cohorts, Highroad Launchpad is helping to equip promising start-ups in the fields of urban tech with the tools they need to optimize their offering, better plan their journey to seamless, innovative success and compete for coveted private-public sector partnerships in the field of smart mobility/transport, and beyond.

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