One of the most important components of a thriving economy is an effective transportation sector. From transporting people wherever they need to go to conveying raw materials and goods necessary for everyday living, it can be argued that it is in the roads where the lifeblood of society flows.

However, the unfortunate combination of overpopulation and insufficient (or misallocated) resources has resulted into multifaceted challenges in transportation. These problems can’t be solved outright and require years, at the minimum, to be effectively addressed. Nonetheless, one important element is at the forefront of responding to these challenges: technology.

Real-Time Data to Decongest Roads

One of the most pressing issues in urban transportation is traffic congestion, as a stronger economy paves the way for an increased purchasing power that spills over onto the automobile industry. However, more cars on the road also means more demand for infrastructure like roads and bridges — something that cannot be provided in an instant or at all, in some cases, due to space considerations.

Using database replication software, along with gadgets such as cameras and sensors as well as and combined data from “smart” vehicles and public transportation systems, the flow of traffic can be managed more effectively. What’s more, historic data can also be used as a reference to develop new traffic schemes, like turning a previously two-way road to one-way, and help prevent accidents in high-risk areas. Personnel management and deployment will also be easier with the help of data replication.

Another facet of transportation that will be optimized with continuous data replication is parking difficulties. Sensors and cameras can feed information to a central database, which can then be sent to vehicles or smartphone applications to help the driver find and secure the most convenient parking spots.

Public Safety

Real-time data can also address public safety issues, such as road accidents and crimes. Transportation agencies can share their information with law enforcement and other relevant authorities, which helps deploy (or reallocate) additional personnel in key areas to stop crime or respond to emergencies promptly. Current and historic data can also be used to plot the safest routes and travel options, based on weather patterns, road conditions, and more.

Inadequate Options

Depending on the time of day, public transit systems are either overused or underused — be they buses, trains, or city-run taxi services. Rush hours creates discomfort and inconvenience due to the high demand, while off-peak times mean low ridership that result in financial losses. Intelligent transportation systems — which combine passenger information, freeway management, emergency management, collision avoidance and notification systems, electronic payment solutions, and other relevant data sources — can help address this usage issue, especially during peak hours.

Meanwhile, alternative transportation options like Uber and Lyft gives travelers convenience and the power of choice. Moreover, these ridesharing companies also make use of real-time data to find the best routes, which helps them shuttle more passengers in a shorter amount of time.

Road Maintenance Issues

The state of the roads is a big factor in transport. The better condition the roads are in, the easier it is to travel. Using sensors that transmit data about the current state of the roads, as well as aerial photography and other imaging technologies, engineers can conduct preemptive maintenance and repairs to ensure that all roads are travel worthy. This is especially true in major thoroughfares that see the most daily use.

While construction works are underway, real-time data can also be used to coordinate schedules and redirect traffic accordingly, so that the least number of motorists are affected.

In the past, discussions about transportation are usually geared toward building new infrastructure like roads and ports. However, with the rise of big data and various technological advancements, the path to better transportation lies in collaboration, policy making, and, more importantly, understanding the needs of the travelers.