March 02, 2017

If Data is the digital era’s new oil, then the algorithm is certainly its powerful engine. Nowadays, the speed at which we drive, how worn our tires are, how much fuel our vehicle consumes: it all creates a digital trace. Traffic, weather conditions and urban transport passenger data all generate more raw material for Big Data analysis. And it doesn’t stop there! The data extracted from these everyday occurrences provides valuable insights for improving both urban mobility and the passenger experience. Ultimately, the abundance of Big data offers the end-user more efficient, more diverse and cleaner transport solutions.Smart and eco-friendly connected vehicles!

The digital revolution offers countless opportunities to make driving safer and more enjoyable and well as enhance the overall on-board experience. It also demonstrates our increased awareness of the environmental impact of transport, responsible for 23% of the world's carbon emissions, and the steps we are taking to mitigate this. Eco-friendly in-vehicle assistance systems are currently being developed, such as the Cruise Assist CO2 system, which monitors traffic, offers intelligent deceleration assist and even tells drivers when to ease off the gas to help cut their fuel bills.

A large number of vehicles are set to be equipped with driving assistance technologies as early as 2018, pending the arrival of the autonomous vehicle (AV) in around 2030, currently considered to be the Holy Grail of vehicle-related Big Data. Self-driving cars undoubtedly make road transport more efficient and less polluting: a double-whammy all round! The much-hyped 2016 "European Truck Platooning Challenge", during which six miniature convoys of semi-automated trucks travelled across Europe proves this. “Platooning”, as the method is known, uses on average 10% less fuel per journey (Wi-Fi ensures the braking and acceleration of each truck in the convoy remains in sync).

Besides driving, Big Data and telematics enable vehicles to use self-diagnostic and reporting capabilities to alert the driver to potential incidents or defects: this serves to demonstrate to what extent technology and ecology go hand in hand. Automatic tire pressure monitoring systems are another prime example of this: under-inflation (at least 0.5 bar below recommended pressure) is not only extremely hazardous but also increases consumption by 2.4%, resulting in 58 kg of carbon emissions per year. So, Big Data makes vehicles easier to maintain and subsequently improves their performance and sustainability.

Green transport means more efficient networks

Enhanced vehicle performance is just one of the rewards Big Data can offer. It can also contribute to Green Transport as a whole and promote smart mobility in terms of transport usage. A great deal of data relating to urban mobility can be collected, extracted and then re-used to map the activity of the city in real-time. This can be as diverse as road traffic conditions, images from street surveillance cameras, intelligent people counters logging people getting on and off public transport, etc. Once a real-time snapshot of urban passenger flow is obtained, transport providers can ensure that supply “meets demand” for bus services, metros, self-service bikes and even taxis.

In preparation for the commissioning of a new bus network in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), a study was carried out using the data and geolocation of potential passengers’ mobile phones. It provided valuable insights into people movement and made it possible to define the routes and stops of the future bus route accordingly. By promoting more efficient and user-friendly transport, Big Data can reduce the carbon footprint. Combined with non-polluting forms of energy, Data Science even has the potential to neutralize them.