In recent years, a large focus has been placed on making improvements in transportation and transportation infrastructure. Increasingly, customers are seeking out innovative solutions to traffic and congestion issues, discovering new capabilities with autonomous vehicles, and learning how to do it all more efficiently, safely, and environmentally friendly. Signed into law in November 2021, the bipartisan infrastructure bill is enabling more customers the chance to make these goals a reality. It has become vital for Cisco partners to understand these needs and determine the best solutions to meet them. In a recent webinar, Cisco’s Pete Kavanaugh, IoT Solutions Architect and John Szpak, IoT Solutions Manager joined transportation decision-makers from Las Vegas and the southern Nevada region as well as Dublin, Ireland, to discuss the progress being made toward smarter, safer, and greener roadways.
Even though many customers have suddenly found themselves with the funds to invest in improving transportation infrastructure, there are still numerous challenges to overcome. Each customer is on a different journey and at a different place within their journey; Pete Kavanaugh, IoT Solutions Architect for Cisco, explained that with everyone at a different place, there’s “not a uniform approach, but it’s something that we have to help customers in this space address and get ready for because the number of connected devices and connected vehicles is only increasing.”
As Director of the FAST traffic transportation center at the southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission, Theresa Gaisser sees 250,000 to 300,000 additional visitors to Las Vegas every weekend (or 43 million annually), in addition to the two million residents already there. Keeping traffic flowing relies on a system comprised of 1,600 traffic lights and 6,500 miles of fiber optic connections. The core of the traffic system was developed in the 1990s and went live in the early 2000s, and since that time a lot has changed. Due to the unprecedented growth of the region and the rise of emerging technologies, Gaisser underlined the importance of upgrading the current system and utilizing real-time data for problem-solving. “We realize that it is critically important that we preserve the capacity of our existing roadway infrastructure because we cannot continue to build our way out of traffic and congestion,” said Gaisser.
Similar to Gaisser’s experience in Las Vegas, many customers across the country are discovering that new technologies can solve traffic congestion and other road problems without building more roads and upending current infrastructure. As traffic cameras become more advanced, they can now provide a greater amount of real-time data and information than they once could. “Cameras are a key, if not the most important, tool to give the visibility to the operators,” emphasized Kavanaugh. Throughout southern Nevada, Gaisser estimates that they have approximately 1,100 real-time traffic cameras that play a significant role in traffic congestion management. This has also led to variable speed limit technology that can adjust the max speed based on traffic, as well as signs that can change in real-time to redirect traffic when needed.
Most roads and infrastructure are connected to cellular networks, fiber optics, and hybrid solutions. When looking at these wide area networks (WAN), John Szpak, IoT Solutions Manager at Cisco, discussed why these different options are good for customers. “Having multiple access technologies provides that flexibility needed to meet most scenarios you would come across,” he said. While fiber can work in a lot of places, it is not ubiquitous. The system is connected with fiber wherever it exists, and cellular connectivity fills in the rest. As many areas are building out roads and housing developments faster than they can build out the fiber, this hybrid solution is proving especially useful.
Creating greener roadways that are less congested and safer overall requires a team approach, whether it’s between distributors helping customers discover the newest and best solutions or the departments within an agency or organization that work together to plan and implement the solutions. Kavanaugh expounded, “We see a partnership with our customers, but we also see a partnership within our customers themselves.” Kavanaugh continued by noting the synergy that exists between IT and OT teams, and that ultimately they are both there to facilitate a well operating system that can deliver on all the goals that it needs to deliver on.
Transportation is vital to keeping business and life moving forward in today’s world. Ensuring infrastructure supports an efficient and effective system has become a focus for customers across the country in urban, suburban, and rural areas. For distribution partners, the key is understanding new needs and helping to steer customers to the solutions that will work to provide smarter, safer, and greener roadways.
To view the webinar, register here.