Big data helps Belfort, France, allocate buses on routes according to demand

belfort france smart city urban transportation bus and bike sharing station
As modern cities smarten up, the priority for many will be transportation. Belfort, a mid-sized French industrial city of 50,000, serves as proof of concept for improved urban transportation that does not require the time and expense of covering the city with sensors and cameras.

Working with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and GFI Informatique, the Board of Public Transportation of Belfort overhauled bus service management of the city’s 100-plus buses. The project entailed a combination of ID cards, GPS-equipped card readers on buses, and big data analysis. The collected data was used to measure bus speed from stop to stop, passenger flow to observe when and where people got on and off, and bus route density. From start to finish, the proof of concept project took four weeks.

Using the TCS Intelligent Urban Exchange system, operations managers were able to detect when and where about 20 percent of all bus passengers boarded and got off on each city bus route. Utilizing big data and artificial intelligence the city’s urban planners were able to use that data analysis to make cost-effective adjustments including the allocation of additional buses on routes and during times of greater passenger demand. They were also able to cut back on buses for minimally used routes and stops. In addition, the system provided feedback on the effect of city construction projects on bus service.

“We were eager to participate in this experiment to make Belfort more attractive to citizens and support the economy,” said Yannick Monnier, Director of the Board of Public Transportation of Belfort. “The results were very conclusive. The experiment allowed us to optimize our transportation network and realize savings. It was such a big success that it could be duplicated to improve not only transportation but also other major city services such as water, waste collection and electricity,” he added.

Going forward, continued data analysis will help the city budget wisely for infrastructure changes and new equipment purchases. The goal is to put the money where the needs are greatest rather than just spending and then waiting to see if usage justified the expense. The push for smarter cities has to be not just about improved services, but also smart resource allocation — in the Belfort project, the use of big data showed how to do both.

Features

Cities looking to get smart take a lesson from an iconic shopping mall

From Disney World to the Mall of America, public venues are becoming microcosms for smart city projects. We dove into both, to show what government officials can learn – and what you can expect from your city.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Cars

Infiniti previews its leap into one of the hottest industry segments

Infiniti has released a teaser image to preview a concept it will unveil at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The yet-unnamed design study is an electric crossover shaped by Infiniti's newest design language.
Cars

What’s next for in-car entertainment? Audi believes it knows

Audi is bringing two technologies to CES 2019. The first turns a car -- a luxury sedan, in this case -- into a drive-in movie theater. The second is presented as a new entertainment format that turns the journey into the destination.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

The all-new 3 Series proves BMW can still build a compelling sport sedan

Seat time in the entry-level BMW 330i ($41,425) and M340i xDrive ($54,995) will test the German automaker’s commitment to driving dynamics, powertrain refinement, and cutting edge technology.
Cars

California wants all-electric public bus fleet on its roads by 2040

California approved a regulation that targets an all-electric public bus fleet for the whole state by 2040. The effect of the full implementation of the regulation is equivalent to taking 4 million cars off the road.
Cars

1,000-mph Bloodhound supersonic car project finds a last-minute savior

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has found a buyer. The project was going to be disbanded after running out of funds, but its assets were purchased by British businessman Ian Warhurst.
Cars

Ford’s prototype Quiet Kennel uses noise-canceling tech to keep dogs stress-free

Ford is ending 2018 by venturing into the doghouse market. The company's European division has built a kennel equipped with active noise-canceling technology and soundproof walls that help dogs sleep through fireworks.
Mobile

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.
Cars

The best compact cars pack full-size features in fun-size packages

The best compact cars on the market rival their counterparts in many ways, proving that bigger isn’t always better. Here, we've rounded up some of the better options available, including an SUV and an electric alternative.