Transportation safety: when smart is not enough
Transportation accidents remain an on-going challenge across developed countries and an undeniable major tragedy in developing countries. With very few developing countries devoting a proper funding to implement innovative strategies in terms of transportation infrastructure safety management, accidents data are becoming increasingly alarming. For instance, road accidents are expected to become the biggest killer of children between five and fifteen years old in Sub-Saharan Africa, outstripping malaria and AIDS.
Innovation efforts when designing safer transportation infrastructures, as well as when implementing the best possible safety solutions in the maintenance and modernisation of existing ones, will contribute to reduce transportation mortality and injury rates, with a special eye on vulnerable users in urban environments.
When innovation leads to safety
Innovation in the transportation sector as a whole has been usually driven by safety. Either individual events (like ship or aviation incidents) or soaring road deaths figures have led decision-makers to new safety regulations and stimulated innovation. Transportation infrastructures and Smart Cities are changing this trend now by anticipating risks, but further progress must be made in relation to advanced safety technologies that bring early warning and protection to all transportation users.
Today, solutions acting directly on the infrastructure itself are gaining ground, as they bring the advantage of a rapid implementation that derives in immediate social benefits. Smart technologies are revolutionising the way cities locate, address and prevent safety issues. Safety monitoring, as well as data collection methods, must move towards non-intrusive and non-destructive inspection and testing systems, including embedded self-monitoring systems.
Natural and man-made disasters: the concept of vulnerability
A sizeable number of transportation infrastructures have been severely impacted by natural disasters inflicted by hurricanes and tsunamis. Additionally, today there are global examples of terrorist acts inflicted on transportation and Smart City infrastructures over 40 countries worldwide, as it appears that public transit has become a new operational theatre for terrorists.
Supplying society with a more secure network of smart transportation infrastructures will decrease their degree of vulnerability to natural and man-made disasters. Additionally, advanced security systems must provide an adequate response and recovery time to all kinds of incidents, and at the same time not hinder the normal flow of passengers and freight, the so-called ‘control in motion’.
Cyber-security has also become a core aspect of transportation. As several critical services become interconnected, the need for cyber-security surges to protect data exchanges, privacy as well as the health and safety of citizens.