From IBM: http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/uk/en/rail_transportation/ideas/ (from Eldeen Carpenter)
It is a rare day that you won’t take some form of transportation !!A bus, train or car to work. A bike to school. A plane for a business trip. And even if you don’t leave your home, your life is still influenced by the transportation industry: virtually every tangible good—food, clothing,medicine, vehicles, computers—has been transported into your world from somewhere else.
Transportation—the movement of people and goods from point A to point B—is the life force of our economy.
Cities could not exist if we didn’t have transportation systems to move people and goods in, out and aroundthem. It has been a leading driver behind globalization: shrinking distances, seeding the emergence of entire new economies and improving the quality of life for millions of people.
Yet many of our transportation systems are inadequate to serve the needs of the 21st century. By integrating technology and intelligence into the physical transportation infrastructure, we can improve capacity, enhance the traveler experience and make our transportation systems more efficient, safe, and secure.
Consider what happens when something goes wrong. A storm, a blackout or even a strike in one city can reverberate throughout the entire country because transportation is a complex, interconnected ecosystem of many stakeholders.
When our transportation system grinds to a stop, it costs money—between 1 and 3 percent of our gross domestic product. In the United States alone, 4.2 billion hours are lost to people sitting in traffic every year.
We can’t build our way out of congestion with more roads and bridges and tracks. “The pattern we see is that every time a new road is built, utilization increases and congestion comes back,” says Phil Mumford, CEO of Queensland Motorways in Australia. “We need to be smarter about how we manage our traffic flow.” And our airport capacity. Our railways. And our shipping lanes.
Putting smarter rail transportation on the fast track
In regions throughout the world, the public and private sectors recognize the need for a better transportation infrastructure. And increasingly, they see the potential of smarter railroads to address that need. But how do we get there?
Through the vagaries of history, geography, economics and politics, some continents (such as Europe) are much farther along in optimizing their transportation infrastructure for train passengers, even as others (especially North America) outpace them in the use of rail for freight transportation. Each could learn something from the other. We’ve reached an historic point—whereby technological advancements now meet the societal, environmental and financial demands for a more efficient and intelligent transportation system. An instrumented, interconnected and intelligent transportation infrastructure—and smarter railroads, in particular—could make the global economy stronger, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make highways safer and reduce road congestion. A smarter planet, in other words, needs smarter railroads.
Smarter transportation means better systems for rail, air, public transit and freight. These can improve our cities, our economy and our daily lives.