Smart Mobility for Smart Cities
There has been an increasing level of interest recently in emerging economies in modal shifts towards the utilization of shipping modes with a small environmental load. Developed economies, on the other hand, are faced by the question of how to maintain mobility infrastructures as facilities age. Hitachi believes that a smart city’s mobility infrastructure must be able to respond to the different urban transportation problems of each country and region while realizing the Smooth and Sustainable concept.
Urban Transportation Issues
First, we will introduce the image of transportation as conceived by Hitachi, as well as the scope of smart mobility.
Hitachi divides transportation into the following three perspectives, depending on the transportation objective from the points of view of the consumer:
(1) Transportation where mobility itself is one of the objectives
This is the case where the objective of transportation is not traveling to a specific destination, but rather the act of riding in a vehicle itself. For instance, this includes cruising or touring in a sports car or other vehicle designed to be fun to drive, riding railways for fun as a so-called “railfan,” or riding a train as part of an event.
(2) Transportation where traveling to the destination is itself the objective
This is the case where the point of departure and the destination are both clear, and transportation is nothing more than a means of reaching that destination. For instance, this includes transportation such as the daily commute to work or school, shopping, traveling to the site of an event, and other situations where one important goal is to minimize the amount of travel required.
(3) Transportation that is enjoyable, stress-free, and comfortable
This case is the same as (2) in that the point of departure and the destination are both clear, and transportation is only being used as a means of reaching that destination, but in addition, well-being and comfort have been added as priorities for transportation. For instance, instead of simply riding a local train, this means of transportation includes a sense of added value, such as travelling with both speed and comfort on a limited express or Shinkansen, or relaxing in the seat of a Green Car while enjoying food and drink. In addition to simple travel, this adds the well-being and enjoyment elements of (1) to the mix, in addition to speed.
Urban Transportation Issues
Six Problems that must be resolved by Smart Mobility
According to the United Nation’s predictions in “World Urbanization Prospects, The 2009 Revision,” the urban population will reach approximately 4.9 billion in the year 2030, which means that approximately 59% of the world’s population will live in cities. In particular, urbanization is advancing in the emerging economies of Asia, and it is even being predicted that by the year 2025, more than half of the world’s urban population will be concentrated in Asia.
It is important to clarify a transportation plan in advance for the cities of emerging economies where the population is concentrating in this way. Unplanned urban expansion results in a wide variety of urban transportation problems. In addition, if these urban transportation problems are neglected, they can have a number of negative effects on the city as a whole, including exacerbation of the global warming problem due to the greenhouse gases in emissions, a greater impact on economic activities due to traffic congestion, and an increased number of traffic accidents leading to a reduced level of lifestyle satisfaction.
In developed economies, on the other hand, car-centric societies are beginning to be reformed from the perspective of environmental problems, and there is an increasing interest in modal shifts. Furthermore, the future maintenance of deteriorating infrastructures is starting to become a major issue.
In anticipation of the various external environments in urban transportation as described above, Hitachi defines the problems that must be resolved by the realization of smart mobility as follows:
(1) Congestion problem
This problem is caused by dense concentrations of the population and a lack of infrastructure maintenance, and is defined as the state whereby the total number of travelers to a certain final destination and the vehicles carrying them exceed the transportation capabilities of a city. Specifically, this means too many railway passengers, traffic congestion, and other such problems.
(2) Vulnerable road user problem
Transportation users such as the elderly, tourists, the handicapped, and others, are defined as vulnerable road users, or people who cannot travel smoothly due to various difficulties. The provision of barrier-free facilities and services is one solution for this type of problem.
(3) Eco problem
Eco problems are defined as resource protection problems, such as the loss of land, generation of waste, and wasteful consumption of limited energy involved in the development of urban environments, as well as regional environmental problems, such as the air pollution, noise, vibrations, and other problems caused by operating cars, trains, and other vehicles.
(4) Deterioration problem
This is defined as the problems related to infrastructure maintenance costs incurred due to the deterioration of the infrastructures that support urban transportation.
(5) Disaster planning problem
This is defined as problems related to advance preparations for disasters, as well as problems in responding after disasters occur.
(6) Transportation company efficiency improvement problem
The transportation companies that actually run the infrastructures required for movement within a city (railway companies, bus companies, taxi companies, etc.) must be able to provide stable transportation services to users without strained finances, while running efficiently at the same time. This type of problem is defined as the transportation company efficiency improvement problem.
Mobility Concept & Architecture
In the contemporary car-centric societies, many people have given priority to their own comfort in how they move around cities by car. This has caused road congestion, and has had a negative impact leading to eco problems as well. But what would happen if, in order to solve this problem, drastic vehicle access restrictions were placed on cities? As the result of excessive restrictions on free movement, transportation users would find life in such a city uncomfortable, and the city would lose the potential for future growth.
At the root of these problems lies the dilemma about the individual values and the perspective of society as a whole regarding selection of a means of transportation. An individual gives priority to comfort and wants to be able to move around smoothly, whereas society as a whole wants transportation to be managed in a sustainable fashion, with consideration given to safety, practicality, and continuity from the perspective of society.
In order to resolve this, Hitachi believes that not only should various means of transportation such as trains and cars be optimized separately, it is important that means of transportation in a city coordinate in order to optimize overall service. In other words, the concept of smart mobility is to realize a sustainable society that enables smooth transportation without the need for people to endure inconvenience, while at the same time reducing the environmental load placed on the planet.
This type of mobility is aimed at creating a Win-Win society where balance is preserved between benefits to individuals, whereby individual comfort is pursued, and benefits to society, whereby the safety, practicality, and continuity needed by government are also pursued. Hitachi presents this as the “Smooth and Sustainable” concept.
Mobility Architecture for Realizing Smart Mobility Concept
In order to realize the smart mobility of the “Smooth and Sustainable” concept, it is necessary to construct a network that can coordinate between transportation companies.
This coordination is realized by, for instance, gathering and analyzing information from multiple transportation companies in a city, and providing each transportation company with information that is useful for overall optimization. This type of coordination makes it possible for the services that have been provided separately by each individual transportation company to be provided as services that are better optimized for the whole.
In order to construct this type of network, Hitachi first defines the five constituent elements of urban transportation as five layers of transportation functions. In addition, Hitachi believes that the architecture must apply three types of optimization between these five layers of transportation functions.
Five Layers of Transportation Functions
(1) User Experience Layer
The layer whereby the user receives shipping, information, or other services from the transportation company, and where transportation actually occurs.
(2) Transportation Services Layer
The layer whereby transportation companies provide services to users.
(3) Information Collection Layer
The layer whereby information is gathered regarding how the services provided by transportation companies are used by users.
(4) Information Management and Control Layer
The layer whereby information is managed and controlled in order to ensure that transportation companies smoothly provide the services in (2), the transportation services layer.
(5) Transportation Company Coordination Layer
The layer whereby each transportation company’s information is gathered, analyzed, and provided, in order to optimize transportation inside the entire city, thereby guiding the operation and control of the transportation companies.
Three Types of Optimization
The three types of optimization are intra-company optimization, optimization of coordination between transportation companies, and service optimization. The relationships between these three types of optimization are shown in the figure below.
Three Types of Optimization
In a smart city as conceived by Hitachi, the urban management infrastructure platform is used to coordinate a variety of different infrastructures with functions utilizing IT, such as managing the city’s information, managing administration, running facilities, and so on. In terms of mobility as well, this urban management infrastructure is used to gather and analyze each transportation company’s actual operational data, and to lead to optimization of the whole.
Thanks to this, in addition to intra-company optimization, which enables service optimization by individual transportation companies, optimization of coordination between transportation companies also becomes possible. Furthermore, optimization of the services provided to users makes “Smooth and Sustainable” movement possible in a state of seamless coordination between services from each transportation company, in such a way that the users do not need to be aware of any gap between transportation companies.
Methods of Realizing Service Optimization
The service optimization used to optimize services for users is explained from the perspective of the relationship with the five layers of transportation functions, and the control of the same.
First, intra-company optimization is applied on the services in the bottommost of the five layers of transportation functions in transportation company A’s business domain, (5) the transportation company coordination layer, up through (4) the information management and control layer, in order to enable the provision of even more comfortable services as a single transportation company.
Next, the optimization of coordination between transportation companies is applied in order to allow the user to use the transfer point and other nodes between transportation company A and transportation company B without the need to be very aware of the nodes. This guarantees that the entire transportation movement process up to the destination can be completed in the part of the five layers of transportation functions leading from (2) the transportation services layer to (1) the transportation user experience layer.
Since this optimization of separate transportation companies occurs at the same time as the overall optimization, service optimization is possible for the sake of the user. This service optimization is actually implemented through the three types of control shown in the figure below.
Control of demand: Controls the total number of people and volume of things moving from a point of departure to a destination.
Control of supply: Controls the shipping capacity provided by transportation companies between a point of departure and a destination.
Control of actions: Guides the actions of people by providing information about the route from a point of departure and a destination.
In this way, Hitachi conceives of service optimization for the user as a mobility architecture made up of five layers of transportation functions and implemented through three types of control, as we work to realize a “Smooth and Sustainable” society.
For a more concrete example of how transportation actually works, refer to the Commuting Scenarios and Provided Solutions.
In the commuting scenario shown below, a company worker commutes from home to work, arriving on time after experiencing no inconvenient transfers or wasted time, and without feeling an economic burden (Smooth). Also, this transportation process offers good energy efficiency (Sustainable). The actual transportation user’s experience is shown in layer (1) transportation user experience layer, and the systems the transportation companies are running behind the scenes are shown in layers (2) through (5). Note that this commuting scenario features products that are not currently offered by the Hitachi Group.
Multi-modal Navigation Service
When the company worker inputs the need to travel cheaply and quickly to a certain destination into a mobile handset, the handset proposes a route combining the optimal transportation companies that can reach the destination cheaply, quickly, and with good energy efficiency. Also, an urban management infrastructure analysis function shares congestion forecasts and other information in order to guide people in such a way as to spread them out, thereby avoiding congestion and traffic in the city, smoothly optimizing urban transportation.
Integrated Fare Collection Service
The company worker connects to multiple transportation companies including both bus and railway, and heads towards the destination. Instead of paying fares to each transportation company separately, including transfers, he uses a smartcard to pay a single fare covering the total trip, which is calculated from the point of departure to the destination. This makes it possible to set lower fares for transportation, while eliminating an inconvenience associated with the use of public transportation.
The flow of people into the city can be smoothly optimized by modifying fees and applying inflow regulations, including the control of fares toll roads, car parking, area entry fees, load pricing, eco points, and local money.
Service to Smooth Transfers between Bus and Train
The arrival time of the bus heading for the railway station is adjusted according to the arrival time scheduled for the train the company worker will ride. As a result, the company worker can transfer from the bus to the train without any wait time.
This process starts with confirmation, using a smartcard, that the user who used multi-modal navigation for searching has boarded the bus. Based on this information, the bus operation management system uses the urban management infrastructure analysis function to launch the bus priority signal system from the intelligent transport system (ITS) management system, which then turns traffic signals green in order to give the bus priority in reaching the station as planned in the simulation.
In this way, the providers (suppliers) of the transportation services control the trains, buses, traffic signals, and so on, smoothly optimizing the flow of transportation through the entire city.
EV Bus Charging Management System
Based on the electric vehicle (EV) bus charging state, the EV bus power management system uses the urban management infrastructure analysis function to determine where, on which route, and at what timing the bus should recharge, and provides this information to the bus operation management system. As a result, the efficient use of EV buses is promoted, contributing to a reduction in CO2 emissions, and realizing the other smart mobility concept of sustainability.
Hitachi believes that in this way, as diverse types of management and control are used to coordinate urban transportation, not only does this allow users to enjoy smoothly run transportation services in comfort, this also allows transportation companies and the government to provide transportation services that are guaranteed to be sustainable, safe, practical, and continuous. Hitachi will continue providing a wide range of solutions in order to support the revolution in transportation infrastructures that will be indispensable for bringing this story to life.
Hitachi has formed a consortium of companies from inside and outside the Hitachi group in order to provide a wide range of solutions for achieving smart mobility. These solutions are described in an overview here.
Providing an Urban Management Infrastructure that Ties Together Multiple Transportation Companies
An urban management infrastructure can be constructed as one of the solutions offered by the smart city as a whole.
The optimization of coordination between transportation companies is the most important factor behind the realization of the mobility concept, and is based on the information provided by urban management infrastructure information collection, analysis, and distribution functions. The urban management infrastructure connects each transportation company, and the analysis of operational record data along with the distribution of appropriate information to transportation companies can be used to achieve optimization of the whole through operational guidance.
Note that this urban management infrastructure works to ensure that users can move around smoothly, as if using a single service. It coordinates information between each transportation company’s transportation services, without interfering with the independent operations of the transportation companies.
Providing Information and Control Platforms for Each Transportation Company
Hitachi provides solutions that realize optimization between transportation companies. For separate optimization between transportation companies, it is important that each company’s control and service are operated efficiently. For this reason, control and information platforms must be developed as foundations.
One representative example of a control platform is the transportation company’s operation management system. Information platforms are mainly constructed using technologies such as the cloud computing or virtualization.
Providing Transportation Applications
In order to optimize services, an urban management infrastructure along with information and control platforms for each individual transportation company will both be developed, while services that embody the needs of urban consumers are also provided at the same time. These services, which are generally referred to as transportation applications, are broadly divided into the following three categories:
(a) Vehicle services
Services related to vehicles, including operational services for transportation, rolling stock management, and others.
(b) Junction services
Services related to showing tickets at train stations, starting with the use of park-and-ride or smartcard services.
(c) Information services
Services related to digital signage, navigation, and other information.
When the solutions described in (a) through (c) are developed along with the aforementioned commuting scenario, they become as follows:
(1) Providing an urban management infrastructure: Optimization of coordination between transportation companies is performed across multiple different transportation companies.
- Integrated analysis and simulation of flow of people and goods
- Integrated analysis and simulation of electric power usage system
- Smartcard integrated management system
(2) Providing information and control platforms: Intra-company optimization is performed for each transportation company.
- Bus operation management system
- EV bus power management system
- ITS management system
- Railway operation management system
(3) Providing transportation applications: Service optimization is performed for users.
- Multi-modal navigation systems, etc.