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Integrating AI-powered traffic management systems, extending metro lines, and converting obsolete buildings into Electric Vehicle charging stations can support the transition

What makes a city ‘smart’? The answer lies in innovative planning and designs, robust infrastructure and forward-thinking policies.

The rapid pace of urbanisation and its consequent challenges have catalysed a deep transformation within the sphere of urban transport. An important aspect of shaping smart cities for the transport revolution is the strategic development of infrastructure. For example in a city like Mumbai, the expansion of the metro network is a key initiative aimed at addressing traffic congestion and pollution of the city. By extending metro lines to underserved areas and improving connectivity, the city reduces dependence on personal vehicles, promoting a shift towards public transit. This infrastructure is about adding routes and creating a web of connectivity that makes public transport a more viable and attractive option.

According to a report by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, the metro network is expected to reduce road traffic by 35% and also cut down carbon emissions by approximately 1.5 million tonnes annually by 2030. Additionally, these stations should be made accessible, safe, and capable of efficiently handling large volumes of passengers.

Expanding boundaries

Developing multi-modal transport hubs (MMTH) is another strategy that can significantly impact urban mobility. These hubs could facilitate easy transfers between different modes of transport such as buses, trains, and pedestrian pathways. The facility is designed to integrate various modes of transportation in a single location.

However, most of the manufacturing hubs in India are located away from the main ports. With major manufacturing hubs situated in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, and the National Capital Region, a significant part of exports happen from there. Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra also actively contribute to exports making the potential for MMTH viable.

In Mumbai, the proposed redesign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus into a multi-modal hub exemplifies how architectural innovation can support efficient urban mobility. The Indian Railways, which aims to establish mega railway terminals featuring multi-modal connectivity in cities with a population of more than 10 lakh, estimates that this transformation will increase daily passenger handling capacity by 50%, serving over 1.5 million commuters.

Tech integration

Integrating advanced technologies into urban transport systems is also essential for the evolution of smart cities. The medium of real-time data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play pivotal roles in managing and optimising traffic flow. AI-powered traffic management systems can offer benefits in adjusting signal timings based on real-time conditions, reducing congestion, and improving travel times.

Such systems can detect overspeeding drivers, send out challans electronically to them, divert traffic to alternative routes, seek help when accidents occur, and even let ambulances know the shortest route to the nearest hospital.

The rise of electric vehicles (EVs) also demands the development of extensive charging infrastructure. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global number of EV charging points is expected to exceed 10 million by 2025, necessitating strategic urban planning for these installations. Therefore designers must plan charging stations that are conveniently located and integrated into existing urban structures without disrupting the functionality of the city.

Additionally, policy innovation can turn out to be instrumental in complementing architectural and technological endeavours. Effective policies can encourage the use of public transport and alternative modes of transportation. Initiatives such as restricted vehicle zones in busy areas can promote the use of public transport. Moreover, wider sidewalks, dedicated cycle lanes, and pedestrian bridges can also make walking and cycling attractive and practical options. These elements, however, must be strategically designed to blend with existing architecture, while meeting the modern transportation systems of the city.

Community-centric design is another aspect that caters to the needs of all residents. Urban spaces should be inclusive, ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities and providing equitable access to transport services. Efforts to improve public transport accessibility can impact the lives of residents in marginalised communities. Architectural designs must focus on creating safe environments in transport hubs and transit routes.

Repurposing structures

The concept of adaptive reuse is vital in shaping smart cities. Today, the need for repurposing existing structures is stronger than before to support new transportation needs that can optimise space and resources. Converting obsolete buildings into EV charging stations or community centres can revitalise neighbourhoods and support the transition to sustainable transport options.

The use of data-driven decision-making in urban planning can also change the effectiveness of transport systems. Collecting and analysing data on traffic patterns, public transport usage, and environmental impact enables city planners to make informed decisions. This approach ensures that transport systems are efficient, responsive, and capable of meeting the dynamic needs of the city.

Public engagement and education are crucial for the success of smart city initiatives. Actively involving residents in the planning process through participatory methods ensures their needs and preferences are respected and considered. It is equally important to educate the public about the advantages of sustainable transport options, inspiring them to embrace these choices. By empowering citizens with knowledge and a voice in the process, we can build a more inclusive and environmentally friendly urban future.

The success of smart cities lies in their ability to anticipate and respond to the dynamic nature of urban life.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Vivek Bhole

Quelle/Source: TheHindu, 14.06.2024

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