How smart cities will improve trucking and the supply chain

Tuesday, August 28th

A smart city is a framework, largely composed of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), to develop, deploy and promote sustainable development practices to address growing urbanization challenges. For as complex as the topic of smart cities can be, a big part of the ICT framework is an intelligent network of connected objects and machines transmitting data using wireless technology and the cloud. Cloud-based IoT applications receive, analyze, and manage data in real time to help cities and the citizens who inhabit them, to make better decisions in the moment with the goal toward improving overall quality of life.

While pie-in-the-sky dreams of utopian smart cities fill the media waves, we wondered about what a smart city would mean for commercial transportation and the supply chain.

Gerry Mead, executive director of innovation for Phillips Industries, tells FreightWaves, “To me the first step and most important is cooperation. A smart city from a truck perspective really involves what solutions does it solve from a transportation perspective. In this case, ours would be trucking. The obvious would be driver retention. One could say more like driver utilization. As their utilization rises so does their paycheck. It’s also a win-win for the trucking companies as more utilization equals more revenue and less driver turnover, as one would believe they would stay as they earn a better living. How? Let’s look ahead at the possibilities if things were what we call ‘SMART,’ or as I just plainly call them, ‘connected.’”

Mead suggests we first look at the European thoughts of ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems), which is talked about globally. According to Mead, “It basically leverages IoT and uses connectivity to make a smart connected system.” He suggests we look at platooning, as it involves a series of connected trucks that enable close quarters operations that save on driver fatigue and fuel.

“When you look at connected systems think advanced but simple solutions,” says Mead. “For example, if stoplights were smart and connected to all vehicles, how many intersection crashes would we have? If a light could communicate to any vehicle and control throttle position as well as braking and override human intervention that is both safe as well as could change how traffic lights are controlled from a duration standpoint.

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