Smart Public Transportation is the Backbone of Truly Smart Cities: NYC’s Innovation by Eric Simone

February 20, 2020

This week, I’ve been in Manhattan, with a packed schedule of meetings with our customers, partners and several Smart City/IoT leaders, working on the most exciting projects I’ve been fortunate to be a part of over my career in technology. While I call Austin home, it is always invigorating to return to NYC, where getting around has always been a challenge and where improving the logistics of moving from one place to the next is driving substantial innovation and investment.

ClearBlade is a leader in improving the efficiency and safety of the rail industry including passenger rail, leveraging our edge computing and connectivity platform, and we’ve learned a thing or two about what is possible when we instrument commuter trains and subways, and when we build new communities (like Hudson Yards on the west side of Manhattan) and new public venues (like the expanding Penn Station) with our hyperconnected lifestyles in mind.

Here’s a dozen examples of what we can do to improve any passenger mass transit system infrastructure and equipment, using sensors, servers, gateways and secure networks to orchestrate more predictable, safer and convenient services, while reducing operating costs, from the point of view of life in Manhattan:

  1. Improve route planning by collecting and analyzing traffic flow and congestion
  2. Improve passenger safety through surveillance systems connected to law enforcement so threats can be known and addressed immediately
  3. Reduce energy used by trains and used in stations with environmental controls and adoption of LED lighting and other technologies
  4. Support mobile apps for iPhones and Androids for paying fares, planning trips, and offering services and discounts (this includes ad-supported models which more than pay for the cost to develop and maintain the apps
  5. Simplify regulated record keeping requirements including maintenance schedules and indications that certain locations or equipment requires attention and updates
  6. Dramatically modernize asset management systems, including providing teams with phones or tablets that can access and share information in real time as stations, tracks, vehicles and systems are physically inspected
  7. Support fare compliance with cameras that capture those who fail to pay their “fare share”, alerting local station managers to trends and triggering stronger observation and compliance programs
  8. Support Positive Train Control (PTC) programs with related data (speed, vibration,etc.)
  9. Make train crossings safer, which we’ve been innovating solutions for over several years
  10. Reroute trains when necessary based on congestion or traffic issues near certain stations
  11. Measure wheel temperature to identify “overheating” which leads to service disruptions
  12. Support fuel-monitoring and fuel-cost optimization

As public transportation gets smarter, cities get smarter too, and ultimately more livable. In NYC, imagine how much cleaner the air will be as more electric public transportation vehicles come online (we can instrument city and commuter buses with IoT solutions as well – and synchronize the entire transportation ecosystem!)

Imagine how much quieter NYC will be when we solve for congestion (I always smile when I see the sign that says “Don’t Even Think About Honking Here”).

Imagine how many more people will be attracted to cleaner, more reliable and safer trains and buses, reducing the number of vehicles on the streets.

I’m having a great journey this week in Gotham – even between meetings, which have been deeply interesting and productive – I am inspired by all I see around me, and how we can use technology to simply make life better in the biggest cities in the world – and in smaller communities, like Austin, where “Project Connect” is being designed to benefit all of Central Texas. When we share ideas and experiences, and scale new technologies and networks, Smart Scales – whether a city is serving nearly 9 million people in NYC, or 950 thousand people in Austin. Let’s all get on board!

Schedule A 30 Minute Demo