Planes, trains and automobiles – getting from point A to point B has never been quicker or easier. However, there are a few key global trends driving the need to invest further in transportation technology. With the growing wave of urbanization, the aging of the population, and the resulting global demands on supply chains in developed and developing nations, current transportation systems will have a difficult time keeping up with demand. These trends are converging to create a remarkable challenge for our transportation infrastructure, but also a remarkable opportunity.
In the developing nations and cities around the world, governments and private companies are looking to grow their economies and compete on the global stage. In order to do that effectively, investments in transportation infrastructure are critical. But with limited budgets and a desire to show the world they can compete, developing countries have the opportunity to make technology investments that can put them on even footing of the rest of the world.
Their challenge is avoiding the pitfalls that developed nations, cities and companies now face: how to circumvent sinking large amounts of capital into a single purpose, proprietary network that can not scale or support the diverse needs or requirements of a fully integrated multimodal transportation network. Legacy systems have burdened many major cities, countries, and companies with the increasing total cost of ownership of maintaining single purpose networks, built with proprietary technologies with limited performance. These challenging networks suppress innovation and lack the ability to unlock the economic value of the data generated by their systems. Developing countries have the opportunity to utilize new transportation technologies to their full potential by opening up the data to create new applications, and allowing the system to work across various agencies or companies to create new business models.
Increasing safety and security risks, along with a disparity of systems and lack of interoperability between regions has created a difficult reality for legacy systems. Lastly, the necessity to deliver these services in an increasingly sustainable way puts added pressure on operators. These challenges are faced regardless of the mode of transportation, whether rail, roadway, aviation, maritime, freight and logistics, connected vehicle or mass transit.
This week’s Connected Rail Solution announcement demonstrates how Cisco’s expertise in ‘connecting the unconnected’ can be used to tackle the issues facing one mode of transportation. Rail systems, regardless of whether they are freight, passenger or mix mode, deal with many technical challenges such as varying speeds, through put requirements, redundancies and applications. But today, thanks to the increasing capability and capacity of IP networks and the economic leverage of the Internet of Everything, we can now see the opportunity for a technology revolution in railroading not seen in more than a generation.
Some early adopter railways have already begun to implement a strategy based on the Internet of Everything. These early adopters are transforming their organizations and providing new experiences for their customers and passengers. Whether freight railroads looking to gain a competitive advantage by delivering new insights for freight and logistics customers, or passenger rail systems looking to provide new and differentiated services to their customers to increase ridership and traveler satisfaction, the Internet of Everything allows operators to examine their current network and explore new business models.
The next industrial revolution in railroading is just beginning and, like any technology transformation, some will prosper by educating themselves about what is causing the change. The Internet of Everything can positively impact any organization, and it is those who embrace it fully that will see the greatest benefit. Rail operators are facing increased challenges: now is the time to learn what the Internet of Everything can do to transform organizations and meet these challenges head on.