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Technology is Driving Transport Into the 21st Century

Autonomous vehicles are all nice and fancy, but what else is technology doing to transform transportation?

By April Slattery

Technology is developing at a pace quicker than ever seen before, with the likes of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, cloud and big data transforming every industry. One that has not fallen so quickly to the hands of technology is transport; however this is set to change as the sector looks to transport into the 21st Century.

Autonomous cars have been hitting the news headlines for the last year or so, with companies fighting to reach the top spot.

Whether it’s ride-hailing companies, such as Uber, or Silicon Valley giants like Google the technology is being developed all around the world.

Hitachi is one such company that has gone full steam ahead in the technology game, focussing on enhancing the travel on trains. Incorporating facial recognition to help protect travellers and assist local authorities, down to basics such as automating air conditioning to cope with the demand on the carriage.

Others, however, are lagging.

“The transportation industry is several steps behind many others in terms of using technology to increase efficiencies and reduce costs. I believe that the industry is at a tipping point where transformational innovation is now enabled by modern technologies. As a result, the most innovative carriers are the ones with established data-driven business models that allow them to respond dynamically and quickly to market changes,” Dheeraj Kohli, VP of Travel and Transportation at Unisys, told CBR.

Keeping Transport at a Red Light

“One of the biggest challenges we see is the reliance form many within the industry in maintaining and operating their own legacy IT systems, which slows their reaction times and puts them at a competitive disadvantage,” Kohli said. “The transportation industry must reassess how it uses technology to create more innovative and adaptive business models.”

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A lack of skilled staff is partly to blame Kohli notes — a position backed up by Fujitsu’s recent survey which highlights that over half (55 percent) of leaders do not feel fully confident and prepared for the pending changes in the transport sector.

What is the Ticket to Success?

Russell Goodenough, Client Managing Direct for Transport Sector at Fujitsu, told CBR, that the key to success is adapting. “It’s critical that the transport sector doesn’t shy away from change, but looks how to adapt and integrate it,” Goodenough said.

“By creating an adaptable transport infrastructure, we can ensure that the UK is ready to take advantage of new technologies as they emerge. This could bring enormous benefits for public services, by delivering fast, efficient travel exactly where people need it.”

One of the biggest driving forces in the transport sector is utilising data, which is often underestimated by many individuals that instead focus on just the technology but not the elements that bring the concept together.

The importance of data cannot be underestimated,” Kohli told CBR. “The earlier and greater visibility of data, combined with the right analytics engines to generate actionable insight, can help carriers optimize the flow of goods from acceptance through delivery, among other things.”

Trends in Transport

Other elements that will leverage technology in the transport sector, according to Unisys’ Transport VP include IoT and predictive analytics.

Announcing the latest IoT developments in travel include Unisys’ ‘Digi-Pet’ initiative that aims to ensure safety of travel for consumers’ pets. It’s a quirky example; other opportunities also abound.

“IoT has applicability across all travel touch points,” Kohil said. “In cargo, airlines often transport temperature-sensitive cargo, such as pharmaceutical products and fresh produce, in containers that monitor key metrics such as temperature and dry ice levels. Airlines must keep accurate records to show that these conditions have been maintained, which are now not done manually in a paper-based system.”

Predictive Analytics has assisted every industry, from healthcare to policing to benefit the services that are offered. Now transport turns to the technology to enhance travel.

“Industry players increasingly want to use analytics to transform business models, to allow them to make better informed decisions, and take action more quickly,” Kohil told CBR.

“Predictive analytics uses data proactively to make informed decisions for route planning that take into account current weather and route congestion to improve delivery performance and enhance customer service. This enables workers to deliver the shipment to the right destination, on time and in satisfactory condition. For airlines and airports, solutions exist that can leverage predictive analytics to visualize past, current and future forecasted traveller data.”

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