Reimagining Transportation

There is a lot of noise right now about ‘reimagining transportation,’ whether reimagining the way transportation facilities are planned, reimagining the way they are designed and constructed, or reimagining the way they are managed. But what does Reimagining Transportation mean to the common person? How will advancements in technology and big data change the way we travel and deliver goods and services? Let’s consider the below three things.

Autonomous Vehicles

Mobility options are changing… quickly

I had the opportunity to listen to a keynote presentation recently at the Northeast Association of State Transportation Offices 2017 conference from the General Manager of Local Motors, David Woessner. Last summer, Local Motors introduce a vehicle they call Olli, which is the first self-driving, COGNITIVE vehicle. Olli debuted in June 2016 at the National Harbor. It is powered by IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) technology and can do thing like recommend places to eat and drink in the area and, even, tell you what to expect weather-wise in the area. The vehicle is equipped with several sensors and it gathers data and becomes smarter as it continues to operate. Another amazing fact about Local Motors and Olli is that the company conceived, designed, and brought the vehicle to market in just three months, the current speed at which technology is advancing.

Using Virtual Reality in a meeting about transportation

Not everyone is ready for big changes, so public buy-in is more important than ever

We all know about virtual reality and augmented reality, but what do they have to do with Reimagining Transportation? Being able to see a proposed project in the context of the real world helps public stakeholders gain a better understanding of what to expect when the project is completed. Using technologies that take advantage of mixed reality make it even easier to see how the final project could impact the community you live in as you aren’t confined to a two-dimensional screen. Seeing things in an immersive, virtual environment is a more proactive and predictive approach to getting stakeholder buy-in because it enables anyone to walk around (or drive around) future transportation facilities (roads, airports, ports, rail stations) and experience how it will function. It can help resolve questions about how different modes of transportation (bikes, pedestrians, self-driving vehicles) will function together in a planned facility.

Transportation Internet of Things

The IoT is already having an impact on the way we get around

There are currently 250 Smart City projects underway in 178 cities worldwide, all of them powered by the IoT. The Smart City movement is driven by challenges cities are facing as more people flock to urban areas. While challenges facing city governments are vast – congestion, increased GHG emissions, societal and cultural clashes associated with crowded spaces –  new opportunities are arising to solve the problems by using technology and data to better diagnose issues, identify patterns and improvements, and monitor processes.

A Smart City is one that uses data to make work easier, life better, access faster, and fosters community engagement. Transportation plays a key role in improving the quality of life for people living in cities. This is apparent in the prominence transportation plays in various Smart City initiatives being planned.

The IoT has the power to provide a less stressful commute. Today the average city dweller spends 15% of driving time in congestion and 20% looking for a parking space. In an IoT enabled city, real time traffic data streams, car sharing schemes, and mobile parking apps will smooth the experience, decreasing road traffic, emissions, and time wasted. The IoT unlocks the potential to use real time traffic and public transport data to provide information on the quickest route to your destination by bike, train, autonomous vehicle, or traveling the old-fashioned way in your own car.


Innovation in transportation is happening at a staggering pace. Self-driving, cognitive cars, experiencing projects before they are built in a mixed reality environment, and the IoT are all changing the way the industry will design, make, and use our transportation assets.

How do you imagine yourself getting around 10 years from now?