Following is a guest post from IBM’s Gerry Mooney:
I’ll be the first to admit that I had expected to hear a lot ‘doom and gloom’ at the Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress in Stockholm this week. After all, traffic congestion has become a systemic problem, affecting quality of life, productivity and the economies of large cities everywhere.
Instead, speakers and participants at this five-day conference focused on the real progress being made and the innovative new systems and services that are surfacing to make our transportation systems safer, more efficient, reliable and sustainable.
It’s fitting that this year’s ITS congress is being held in Stockholm. Besides being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Stockholm is also among the most advanced in traffic management. In 2007, the Swedish Road Administration began a pilot road charging system to get a handle on traffic congestion in the inner city and corollary problems, like ambient pollution and CO2 emissions. The pilot was so successful, Stockholm residents overwhelming supported full adoption of the system a year later.
Image Source: Analysis of traffic in Stockholm – Summary (pdf)
IBM is Stockholm’s technology partner. Earlier this week, the two organizations announced the latest results of the Stockholm Congestion Charging System:
- * City traffic is down by 18%
- * CO2 emissions have been cut by between 14-18%
- * Ridership on public transport has increased by 60,000 passengers per day.
Chart Source: Analysis of traffic in Stockholm – Summary (pdf)
You can download a pdf of the entire report on the Stockholm home page. It’s not surprising that other cities, such as London, Brisbane, and Singapore are following Stockholm’s lead.
While this is a great example of a private-public partnership that’s working, we know that governments and big business can’t come up with all the answers to traffic congestion: We also need good ideas and feedback from entrepreneurs, commuters, and others. So another important announcement at the conference was the winner of the ITS Congestion Challenge – Seattle-based iCarpool.
ITS America, IBM and Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations launched a global challenge in June to identify innovative ideas for combating transportation problems. iCarpool won with an innovative solution for giving commuters and other travelers choices for travel other than driving alone. The company will receive a cash investment of $50,000 USD to support further development efforts.
It has been a good week and I’m convinced that the smart ideas and initiatives that underway and that were discussed here in Stockholm will be important steps towards in developing more sustainable transportation systems. These efforts to improve “ITS in daily life” will drive changes that will benefit cities, citizens and the business community alike.
Editor’s note: For more background on the Stockholm congestion charging program, watch the following video:
Gerry Mooney is a general manager in IBM’s public sector business.