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Using big data to improve Cape Town’s transport

Big data has many applications worldwide, so harnessing it to improve transport operations in South African cities – and other cities on the continent – hasn’t been lost on transport authorities, ITS engineers and data scientists, explains Dr Paul Vorster, CEO of the Intelligent Transport Society South Africa.

Using big data to improve Cape Town’s transport

Improving transport operations, such as public transport, private vehicles and the movement of freight, is especially important as major metropolitan areas continue to grow. When these areas grow ‘vertically’ they can achieve higher densities, which benefits public transport operators with increased ridership in closer proximity to transit services. This may also promote non-motorised transport options.

However, when metros grow ‘horizontally’ the distances and levels of congestion – and consequently travel times – increase, along with the number of vehicles on the road.

Metropolitan areas typically expand up and outwards, and must cater for the large number of commuters both in- and out-bound from neighbouring cities and towns. The diverse socio-economic profile of these commuters means that an eclectic collection of often-disjointed transport services is in operation to move people, goods and services into and out of metros.

Metropolitan transport authorities are turning to big data to find ways to improve traffic flow for private and public transport vehicles; plan a more efficient and sustainable transport network; and also to empower travellers and commuters with information to guide optimal mode, route and timing decisions.

Smarter transport is becoming a key driver in creating smart cities and this phenomenon is happening in South African cities, such as Cape Town.

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