Future smart cities will need to be human-centric and revolve around “the living street”.
This is according to Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett, in his keynote talk at CES yesterday. “It’s not about cities getting smarter, it’s about humans having a better day,” he says.
Hackett’s vision focuses efforts on creating a reliable future of transportation through a systems-based approach for the people of rising smart cities.
“Now is our opportunity to reclaim the streets for living – to take major leaps in the direction of building a true City of Tomorrow and re-imagine how our streets and cities function much more efficiently.
“With the power of AI and the rise of autonomous and connected vehicles, we have technology capable of a complete disruption and redesign of the surface transportation system for the first time in a century. Everything from parking, traffic flow and goods delivery can be radically improved – reducing congestion and allowing cities to transform roads into more public spaces.”
Hackett says Ford is taking a user-centred, systems-level design approach to mobility. “We need to step back and look broadly at how the overall transportation operating system can help us all lead better, more productive lives.
“It is not good enough to just implement this new technology without first fully understanding how it is going to make people’s lives better. We need to get this new design right.”
Ford used the CES stage to introduce its new Transformation Mobility Cloud, an open platform designed to simplify the flow of data in support of transportation systems from vehicles and bicycles to mass transit.
Rich Strader, Ford vice-president: mobility product solutions, and Sunny Madra, CEO of Autonomic, describe the adaptation of cities as a rare moment in technology where an innovation can be designed to build community.
“If we play our cards right, we can help allow for millions of people to move into cities and keep streets less congested, not more,” they write. “We can connect people living in transit deserts to the city centre for better jobs. We can manage our curbs better, remove parked and idling cars, and instead plant more trees and share fresh air with more in our community.
“Building an ecosystem such as this requires the large-scale connection of bits of distinct data that flow from a variety of sources,” they add. “And those sources – public transportation services, self-driving cars, cyclists and even infrastructure – will need to speak the same language and communicate with each other if we’re to realize the true potential of this type of ecosystem.”
Ford and Autonomic are building an open cloud-based platform: the Transportation Mobility Cloud.
“This platform can manage information flow and basic transactions between a variety of components in the transportation ecosystem – service providers, personal vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, mass transit systems and city infrastructure, including traffic lights and parking locations,” write Strader and Madra.
“With this platform, cities will be able to facilitate communication between various transportation methods and services operating within them, including individual vehicle data.
“The Transportation Mobility Cloud can take in and process that data in real-time, and provide numerous services including vehicle connectivity, third-party connectivity, location-based services, route mapping, alerts, identity management, payment processing, data and analytical services, and much more.
“This enables developers to offer new apps and services that make getting around easier and more efficient.”
The Transportation Mobility Cloud provides a common way to communicate that already has the base functionality built out, and it manages the performance, security and other core elements in a standardised way.
“Just as with any open platform, people can build on top of it – focusing on how to add value to the consumer experience – instead of having to re-create those foundational elements from scratch.”
They explain that the Transportation Mobility Cloud is open, and any provider can build applications on it.
“Most importantly, we’re designing this with the large scale of global cities in mind – and integration at scale is a Ford strength. This is the first at-scale transportation solution that provides the ability to connect individual vehicles, third-party services, mobile applications and transit systems, while also enabling sharing across the ecosystem.
“It creates equal opportunity for automakers, cities, suppliers and developers to add value. With Ford’s commitment to 100% connectivity, we aim to have the most vehicles connected to any platform by the end of 2019.”