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November, 14th 2012

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Sylvie Spalmacin-Roma, Vice President, Smarter Cities, IBM Europe

By Sylvie Spalmacin-Roma

Innovative projects to build Smarter Cities can drive economic growth and even help make local companies more profitable. That’s what is happening in the city of Lyon, France, which is undertaking a massive transportation project to improve mobility in the region and build a more sustainable transportation network.

Lyon’s Optimod project is incredibly innovative, building an intelligent transportation system to provide citizens with predictive notification about traffic patterns. Real-time decision support will help traffic engineers detect and evaluate incidents, suggest best steps to decrease traffic congestion across the transportation network and enable faster incident response time so citizens don’t waste time in traffic. But what I find even more exciting, if not surprising, is the connection to helping local business.

City leaders set out to determine how they could not only improve transportation, but how this investment in an intelligent transportation system could impact the hundreds of freight, trucking, livery and delivery companies that fuel commerce every day.

With a new first-of-a-kind project with IBM Research, they created a method to help transport vehicles spend less time in traffic, less time waiting for an open loading dock, and less time on the road driving. In a business such as freight delivery where both time and fuel are money, the savings could be significant.

Special algorithms created by IBM can use existing data sources to provide freight and transit companies advance notice of the most opportune travel times, which routes are most eco-friendly, and what time their truck should depart. In turn, these businesses improve their own efficiency and that of their customers who rely on them to deliver needed groceries, merchandise and equipment.

This is the type of innovation crosses traditional boundaries and dramatically changes the game for those cities that truly want to be competitive in supporting business. It is also an example of how Smarter Cities can help build smarter business to enrich local economies.

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