Smart, Sustainable, and Safe Urban Transportation Systems: Recent Developments in the Asia-Pacific Region

Smart, Sustainable, and Safe Urban Transportation Systems: Recent Developments in the Asia-Pacific Region

Hoong-Chor Chin (National University of Singapore, Singapore) and Yueying Wang (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8282-5.ch012
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Abstract

One of the fastest growing areas in the world is the Asia-Pacific region. With anticipated acceleration in motorization and potentially-damaging unplanned urban sprawl, the region will be threatened by problems of traffic congestion, pollution and road hazards. Several countries in the region have taken a variety of proactive measures to ensure that the urban transportation systems are designed and operated in a smart, sustainable and safe manner. This chapter identifies the policies and practices in South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore and Australia, and seeks to draw lessons from these on how transportation schemes can be implemented elsewhere in Asia.
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Introduction

One of the fastest growing areas in the world is the Asia-Pacific region, accounting for about 40% of global growth and one-third of global trade in 2013. Rapid economic growth and the large population base mean that the demand for transportation in the domestic sector, particularly in urban areas, is expected to rise in tandem. The World Bank estimates that in the next decade, the region will attract some additional 500 million residents, with more than half of these in urban areas. With anticipated acceleration in motorization and potentially-damaging unplanned urban sprawl, the region will be threatened by problems of traffic congestion, pollution and road hazards.

Yet several countries in the Asia-Pacific Region have taken on a variety of proactive measures to ensure that urban transportation systems are designed and operated in a smart, sustainable and safe manner. This chapter identifies the urban transportation policies and practices in South Korea, Japan, China including Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan, Singapore and Australia, and seeks to draw lessons from these to establish whether and how these transportation schemes can be implemented elsewhere in Asia.

These practices will be examined following 3 components: smart urban transportation, sustainable urban transportation and safe urban transportation.

Overview of Asia-Pacific Countries

The Asia-Pacific Region generally comprises countries in East Asia (China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Republic of Korea and Taiwan), Southeast Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Loa People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and Oceania (Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands).

For the purpose of this chapter, seven Asia-Pacific countries (including Hong Kong SAR) are examined. They represent a wide range of population sizes, per capita GDP and degree of urbanization. Singapore has a population of only 5.3 million, which with a 100% urbanized land mass gives a population density of 7,300 people per km2. It enjoys a per capita GDP of US$50,000 which is projected to increase at a rate of 5.5% in 2014. On the other hand, China has a population of 1.35 billion with 50% urbanization along with a per capita GDP of US$5,900 which is projected to grow at 8.2%.

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Smart Urban Transportation

Worldwide, smart urban transportation has been progressively developed with improvements in the following aspects:

  • 1.

    Sensor technologies, including the use of cameras, lasers and Radio Frequency [RF] sensing and interaction with imaging technologies;

  • 2.

    Control systems with enhanced sensing technologies, to promote autonomous functions particularly within vehicles;

  • 3.

    Processing capabilities with supercomputers processing large amounts of data and advanced analytics for big data, offering real-time, responsive solutions;

  • 4.

    Communication technologies including mobile network technologies, allowing greater use of ubiquitous devices, resulting in more flexible and personal travel choices.

Naturally such systems, championed as Intelligent Transport Systems [ITS], are more likely to be found in the highly urbanized, more developed major cities, like Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul, where there is a high level of mobile network connectivity. While advanced technologies have been long employed in managing transportation in many Asian Pacific cities, modern sensor devices and their integration in vehicle-to-vehicle [V2V] and vehicle-to-infrastructure [V2I] systems are primarily confined to countries with strong research and development in the automobile industry, such as Japan, and increasingly in Korea and China. There is therefore considerable scope for smart transportation applications in Asian Pacific cities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

On-Board Units [OBU]: The computer unit installed within a vehicle that collects driving and traffic information and can communicate with roadside and satellite control or guidance systems, usually for the purpose of toll collection, and having the potential to communicate with other vehicles’ OBUs.

Transit-Oriented Development [TOD]: A residential and commercial district built around a public transport station or interchange, in order to maximize access and to encourage public transport usage.

Electronic Toll Collection [ETC]: A system that collects road tolls electronically often without the need for vehicles to stop.

Variable Message Sign [VMS]: An electronic traffic sign installed on roadways to provide drivers with information about traffic conditions on the road or at car parks, such as congestion, accidents, speed limit changes and parking availability.

Intelligent Transport Systems [ITS]: Advanced info-communication applications designed to provide innovative features in the different transport modes, to enable users to be better informed for the smarter, safer and more coordinated use of transport services.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle [V2V]: An automobile-based technology designed to allow automobiles to “talk” to each other for efficient exchanges of vehicle-based data regarding location and speed, thereby allowing a faster response to traffic hazards.

Road Safety Audit: A formal examination of the safety performance of an existing or future road scheme or intersection design by an independent team, that aims at identifying potential road hazards and recommending mitigating measures designed to improve the safety of all road users.

Sag-Congestion: Congestion resulting from vehicles having to reduce speed when they are at the bottom of a slope just prior to climbing uphill.

Sustainable Transportation: A set of transportation policies, schemes or activities that collectively ensure that the burden or costs of implementing or operating them will not be passed on to future generations.

Adaptive Cruise Control [ACC]: A radar-based system that can continually adjust a vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.

Certificate of Entitlement [COE]: The system practiced in Singapore to regulate growth in the vehicle population by limiting the ownership of individual vehicles to a maximum lease of 10 years through a process of bidding.

Micro-Electric Vehicle [MEV]: A one- or two-seater vehicle powered by battery with an electric propulsion power rating of 4-10 KWh.

Bus Rapid Transit [BRT]: A bus-based mass transit system, with buses running for most part of their journey within a fully dedicated right of way, often having priority over other vehicles at traffic intersections.

Vehicle-to-Infrastructure [V2I]: The wireless technology that facilitates the exchange of operational data between vehicles and highway infrastructure, primarily to better manage traffic movements and promote safer operations, and to automate road toll collection.

Dedicated Short Range Communication [DSRC]: A short-range to medium-range communication service with very high data transfer rates, that is designed for automotive use to support vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle operations.

Smart City: A holistic urban system, involving components such as transportation, healthcare, utilities, education, housing, public safety and security, communications and businesses, that integrates sensors and actuators in the infrastructure to operate an integrated, self-sustaining management system through the intelligent use of information and communications networks.

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