Joe Kochan, COO of US Ignite, says it’s possible to imagine future transportation systems that are dramatically more responsive to the needs of citizens and that involve much less waste of energy and space, but stakeholders must also think about the potential downsides of these systems, including privacy and security. “It’s also possible to imagine these systems being insensitive to the privacy and security needs of citizens,” Kochan says. “Transportation freedom—being able to be where you want, when you want—is a very important part of people’s lives, and if some of the data privacy problems appearing in social media are translated into the transportation space, people will lose faith in the systems and feel less free.”
Municipal governments have an important role to play in the safe, secure, and private development of autonomous transportation systems. It’ll therefore be important for cities to tackle safety, security, and privacy issues as proactively as possible. Cities need to be asking the right questions, like whether public AVs should be considered “public space” where surveillance is considered acceptable. By getting many different stakeholders involved, including thought leaders in industry, government, technology, and transportation, as well as specialists in realms like cybersecurity, cities can begin to pave the way for the next generation of urban transportation and a new era marked by urbanization and the IoT.
Cities will operate differently in the future than they do today, and the way people navigate around these smart cities will be different too. New transportation paradigms will replace the old ones, and new technologies will likely take hold. Logistics and fleet operations will also adapt, and all of this will raise questions about the safety of roadways, privacy of citizens, and security of data, but these uncertainties mustn’t stop forward progress.
“The future is what we make of it,” says Lybarger of the Transportation Research Center. “The focus for any transportation system is to improve safety and efficiency in a cost-effective manner. The future urban setting will be connected to all users, creating an interconnected web of data that will only better the lives of its inhabitants and visitors.”