Updated: Mar 1, 2019
During the late part of the 19th century, the world saw a revolution like no other. Human and animal labor was replaced by machines. Education and medicine improved exponentially. And, lastly, people started to move to from the countryside to urban environments, turning busy towns into dense cities. Now, as we approach the 4th Industrial Revolution we are moving towards smart cities.
Cleaner transportation systems for cities
The revolution humanity experience during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s led to a growth never seen before and that might never be seen again. The result of such a rapid migration to urban areas, led to cities growing faster than what city planners had predicted. The failure to be able to address the challenges of such a growth led to poor urban mobility. And this became a bigger problem as time passed on, cities have continued to grow and become more complex as the years have passed.
However, all is not lost. The same revolution that gave us the automobile, gave us the tools to upgrade our transportation options in order to make them greener, cleaner, cheaper and more efficient. One of the current problems most cities face is simple: too many automobiles and an increase in competition for a perceived lack of parking spots. According to MIT professor Eran Ben-Joseph, there are close to 800 million surface parking spots in the United States alone. Compare that to only 250 million automobiles. That is about 3 parking spaces per car. So maybe one of the best places for smart cities to start is the parking problem.
Before you think that is not a problem, consider that the average automobile spends 90% of its time parked – based on a study made by UCLA economist professor Donald Shoup. That means that most of the time the cars that are stuck in traffic during peak hours, spent hours sitting in the same spot doing nothing. The reason for this is because most people will look for a parking spot as close to their destination as possible, and those who find those spots do not have to pay a premium for taking that spot. Thus, cities created parking minimums that all businesses have to adhere to and it is these parking minimums create an economic burden on consumers as well as the environment.
The upside of all this is that the land that is currently being wasted on parking could be put to a much better use – being turned into commercial or residential areas for example. At the very minimum dynamic pricing on parking in city centers will make people think twice before driving places, and instead, they will be motivated to walk, take a bicycle or even public transport to their desire location. The more that citizens can be incentivised to leave their car at home the better it will be for everyone.
And while we talk about public transportation, dynamic pricing can only be an effective method to discourage passengers if public transit is split from the classical long bus routes to something like compact e-autos that are located at the premium spots that were once occupied by petrol automobiles.
These electronic automobiles would be activated by having the proper app and will use solar power to charge themselves. Users will have the freedom to go anywhere within the smart city limits and will not have to worry about leaving their cars at a secure place. All they will do is just park and walk away.