As a child, the act of reading road maps was fascinating to me. Weaving my fingers through freeway interchanges and local roads was immensely fun and enjoyable as much as running outside to play on the grass of my parents’ backyard. Even after college, I briefly toyed with pursuing an urban planning and development degree to study the growth of cities and the timing of traffic lights. When I have some extra free time these days, I sometimes wander over to the Wikipedia pages of airports just to imagine where I could take my next trip.
While cloverleaf interchanges and IATA codenames may have to wait several more years in lieu of marketing cloud computing and DevOps technologies, urban planning still plays an integral part in my life. For one, I live in Southern California which has a lot of concrete from all the freeway interchanges and airports, and for another, urban planning is colliding with cloud technologies in IBM’s Smarter Cities initiative and how airlines and transportation agencies look at their cloud computing needs. Here are some of the concepts making news:
1. Self-Driving Cars: Late this summer, sharing economy powerhouse Uber rolled out its first self-driving car fleet in Pittsburgh, ushering in a new era of transportation. While retail self-driving cars won’t hit the road for another half-decade, this innovation was important because of how everything connects back to the cloud. As the future envisions robots driving in lieu of humans, cloud computing will support these initiatives to offer the best directions, collision avoidance, and onboard entertainment to help drivers pass the time. Finally, car ownership will diminish as more individuals choose self-driving vehicles to offset the cost of insurance and gas.
2. Airline (and Train/Boat) Availability: While Uber was rolling out self-driving cars, other airlines were experiencing unfortunate downtime. With travel at its more affordable in years and many expected to travel for the upcoming holiday season, airlines must figure out ways to reduce delays and offer faster updates to their customers through continuous deployment applications such as UrbanCode or through the leveraging of APIs within Bluemix. With a greater reliance on cloud technologies, customers can enjoy better uptime and service so they can get to their destinations on-time and without exhaustion. This will no doubt extend to other forms of transportation including trains, boats, and buses.
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3. Traffic Lights: We all know the dreaded feeling of multiple traffic lights in a row. Not only is the experience annoying, but you end up getting to your destination a half hour later than expected with a cramp in your leg from hitting the brakes. Coupled with self-driving cars, I anticipate that the all-red trip will be a thing of the past with cloud-optimized trip tracking and notifications. Not only will we hit green lights (most of the time), but we’ll feel a lot more relaxed pulling up to our destination. This means that we’ll see the near end of…
4. Traffic Congestion: I have spent a large number of my waking days sitting on the 405 freeway in Southern California. According to the locals, it’s given that number after all because it takes 4 hours and 5 minutes to get anywhere and many days it rings true. The rise of self-driving cars will effectively eliminate traffic congestion as the vehicles will communicate with each other, reducing the needless braking and cutting off that have made driving so aggravating. The only thing remaining will be how these cars drive on aging infrastructure.
5. Entertainment: I mentioned this briefly in a previous point, and devote my final point to entertainment and media. As cars become self-driving and reliant on the cloud, passengers will need more to keep themselves occupied. For the businessperson, this presents an opportunity to use productivity applications while families may take the extra time to learn or watch a movie. Everything that you see now on your mobile devices will now appear in the cloud, creating an even more connected experience that consumer brands can tap into. Perhaps a younger version of me would play with the digital maps that mirror the paper versions I used as a child.
What do you think about the future of transportation and where do you think cloud will influence innovation? Share your comments below or let us know at email@example.com. Download our latest guide to see what other business applications cloud impacts as well.
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