The French city of Lyon has brought together a number of companies in a project to optimise sustainable mobility in the city. One of the outcomes, from IBM Research, is a method to help transport vehicles spend less time in traffic, less time waiting for an open loading dock and less time on the road driving. In freight delivery the savings in time, fuel and environmental impact could be significant.
The Lyon project, called Optimod’Lyon, is a consequence of the call by the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) for projects on urban mobility. Lyon has brought together twelve partners to build an intelligent transportation system to provide citizens with predictive notification about traffic patterns. But the city also wanted to use the system to help the hundreds of freight and delivery companies serving the area.
According to a blog post from Sylvie Spalmacin-Roma, Vice President, Smarter Cities, IBM Europe, IBM created special algorithms that use existing data sources to provide freight and transit companies advance notice of the most opportune travel times, which routes are most eco-friendly and what time their truck should depart. As a result, the businesses improve their own efficiency and that of the customers that rely on them.
Review: IBM talks a lot about smart cities, not least because it’s a huge area of business for the company. For IBM, and the cities it serves, it’s not specifically a green initiative, but more about making the whole infrastructure, transportation, etc. more efficient. There’s a lot of technology involved, but mostly to integrate and improve various existing systems to maximise the resources available. Making cities more efficient becomes increasingly important as more people migrate towards growing metropolitan areas, putting pressure on resources.
But a significant by-product of increased efficiency is to make cities more sustainable. For instance, improving public transportation flow increases the number of people who can easily commute, which means that individual journeys are more energy efficient. It’s interesting that these sorts of solutions should make cities more pleasant to live in, as well as reducing energy consumption. It’s an area that IT companies seem to feel more comfortable about embracing, without being seen as ‘tree huggers’.