Transforming our roads, safety and our ways of working, cities across the UK are turning ‘smart’ by using data and technology to improve our quality of life, says Andy Allan, owner at CAT Autokeys.

The ‘smart’ notion is not relatively new – it’s been the buzzword of the decade and wearables and gadgets have taken the limelight for years. But automakers have an opportunity to transform a device that was made to be mobile – the car. Smart Cities can harness data to reduce traffic, pollution and even road safety, thanks to the power of connection and analysis.

As Europe’s first multi-million-pound Smart City Mobility Centre is set to be built in the UK, what do we need to consider as we move forward to the Smart mobility era? And what will be the standout solutions for success?

1 – Make sure the solution is future-proof

Technology moves fast – very fast. Whether you’re creating smart road technology or a connected, electric car, the solution must be able to meet future demands. If not, when a new gadget comes out and you can’t accommodate for it, your solution will be ripped out and replaced. Planning processes are lengthy – connected cars have been in the works for years – and they need to be able to accommodate for the latest smart accessory or innovation, or your product loses value as soon as it’s rolled out the warehouse door.

2 – The key to the future?

One gadget that’s being talked about regularly is the smart key, which can replace the usual car key by transferring vehicle information and locking capabilities onto your smartphone. With cars being able to communicate with each other, it only make sense for the car gadgets to be able to talk to each other.

Less things to carry, less risk of losing your key – both sound great, right? However police are warning that all cars with keyless entry are vulnerable as long as hackers can crack the code – just like a Tesla owner found recently after hackers were able to clone their keys. New technologies always raise concerns over security, and engineers must make sure that they limit potential worries with a robust security prevention plan, along with the opportunity for the user to disable it and the information which is stored.

3 – Electric dreams

Electric cars help the environment, cut down on our emissions and noise pollution. So why aren’t more people buying them? They’re often higher in cost, they rely on the less frequent electric charging stations, and there’s less of a techie buzz around them compared to connected, driverless cars. Essentially, they need to be marketed and designed towards the needs of the buyer and how it can benefit them, not just the roads. The smart mobility announcements mean that a connected, electric car is now in reach, benefitting both the environment and the consumer.

Andy Allan

4 – Stay innovative

Connected cars weren’t invented by themselves – people need to regularly come up with innovative ideas that others don’t. As we focus all of our time and efforts on delivering the job, the importance of regular learning is something which, ironically, gets left behind.

While to some extent we learn on the job, we need new opportunities and experiences to keep our mind open to new solutions and innovations that might benefit our work. Peers, online resources, books and conferences can all help. There is a major digital divide in the UK, but by learning new digital skills, we can all contribute to closing the gap.

5 – Take advantage of data

The digital age thrives off data by analysing it to make relevant decisions and strategic moves to find new innovations such as the smart key. By looking for insights, you can set yourself apart from the competition by developing innovations that you know there is demand for, but nobody else does. One of the major causes of standstill traffic, for example, is the lack of information provided to drivers.

Predictive analytics is a powerful way to use data to combat this, and could identify the cause of congestion, and enable real-time estimation of traffic patterns so that they can plan the best route. Vehicle mileage data can also be made use of to predict service intervals, and maintenance data can be used to predict parts failure. As smart mobility comes to fruition, it’s critical that the data you have available is analysed. If you don’t do this, your competitors will – and you’ll have missed a vital trick.

Smart Cities are here, and they’re here to stay. Cities have the Smart element, but engineers and analysts have the key.

The author of this blog is Andy Allan, owner at CAT Autokeys

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