Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

Source: Otebig, WikiMedia Commons

Source: Otebig, WikiMedia Commons

If you have been following the blog this week or reading the posts over at Turbo Todd, there has been a lot of discussion how different industries are leveraging technology and innovative management to become “smarter.” It’s happening in transportation, too.

Transportation is the circulatory system of our planet.  Though we often take it for granted, every day the world relies on a complex network of transportation systems to move people, food, and products.  Our transportation systems – whether in developed or emerging countries – are key for economic growth.

Most of the transportation systems around the globe were built to accommodate just a fraction of their current load.  It’s estimated that up to $30 trillion will be spent on transportation infrastructure around the world in the next two decades.  The physical infrastructure is just one piece of puzzle; data will also play a key role in optimizing transportation to keep pace with increasing demands.

Steve Hamm recently wrote about how IBM and Bharti are working together in Africa to improve communications.  Emerging markets are also strategically investing in transportation infrastructure to build systems that can respond to anticipated growth and integrate themselves in the global transport system.

Kazakhstan is a good example of this.  By virtue of its location in Central Asia, it has the potential to be a bridge between Europe and Asia, particularly for both passenger and freight rail.  More than half of the freight and passenger traffic in Kazakhstan relies on the country’s railroads.  And, the nation is significantly investing to improve its transportation infrastructure.

It’s not just building more tracks and adding trains, you also need software and systems that can ensure uninterrupted flow of traffic and goods.  As Ermek Keyzatov, vice president for Business Development at The National Company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, said, “Reliable and fault tolerant systems are crucial for our company’s operations. Even the smallest systems failure can lead to enormous financial losses.”

IBM and Kazakh Railways, the largest railway operator in Central Asia, are working together to optimize its freight and passenger operations across its 18,000 km rail network, which includes some of the main international lines connecting Central Asian countries with China and Turkmenistan.

They estimate that the effort will help them reduce possible downtime from systems failure – which can cost up to $6 million a day – from several hours to as little as 20 minutes.

They are laying the foundation for a smarter rail network in Kazakhstan that will be able to better handle the increasing volume of rail traffic in the country and is poised to capitalize on potential growth in the region.

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