Written by Jürgen Assfalg, ICT Manager at Città Metropolitana di Firenze
An elastic software architecture is expected to enable next generation smart mobility
During the ages, urban areas have attracted an ever increasing number of people. The growth of cities and metropolitan areas has led to an increased mobility demand of people and freights, among and inside those areas. For a long time this demand has been faced by building new infrastructures. However, in recent years, rising attention for sustainability – environmental, economical, and social – has forced cities to evaluate and adopt new approaches, aimed at optimising the performance of existing infrastructures as well as at promoting the shift towards more efficient transportation modes.
In the above outlined context, ICT is gaining a central role, as it allows to implement comprehensive control systems able to effectively manage mobility: on the one hand, widespread sensor networks monitor both mobility demand and offer; on the other hand, control logics and actuators support enforcement of policies devised by local governments, transportation agencies and other stakeholders.
Consequently, the metropolitan government of Florence, the City of Florence and other operators have been increasingly deploying Intelligent Transportation Systems to manage mobility in the area, thus developing a solid and extensive smart mobility infrastructure. Also, in 2019 the Metropolitan City of Florence has adopted its Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), where ITS and MaaS have a key role.
While initially each single transportation mode has been addressed separately, more recently the focus has been moved on interaction between the public and private transport, which is one of the use cases of the ELASTIC project. Interaction between the two transportation modes is worth of being investigated at least from two perspectives, namely transportation network performance (or service levels) and safety. From the point of view of the technical implementation, the former mainly relies on computationally intensive data analytics, the latter requires to deliver real-time alerts and information.
At intersections and crossings, different transportation modes – tramway (blue), cars (red), pedestrians (yellow) – interact in various ways, possibly affecting performance of the transportation networks and/or safety of people.
Such a use case, massively relying on IoT and featuring a variety of functional and non functional requirements, barely fits within edge or cloud architecture, which fulfil only a subset of requirements of the envisaged use case. A new computing paradigm, named fog computing, has recently appeared to efficiently combine the benefits of edge and cloud computing. In that regard, ELASTIC is developing a fog platform capable of meeting the wider spectrum of requirements, set by forthcoming assisted and autonomous driving scenarios relying on a smart coordination of edge and cloud technologies, and vehicle-to-anything communication (V2X) technologies.
The distributed data analytics platform (DDAP) of the ELASTIC architecture processes data from a variety of sources (sensors, trams, vehicles, etc.) and identifies potentially hazardous situations, which are signalled to drivers through V2X communication devices.