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Improving how a city moves

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Whether you’re in Ghana where the trotos’s are, on a jitney in the Philippines or in a sometimes ironically named ‘car rapide’ in Senegal, there’s no escaping the fact that informal transport exists in every major city in the world. Even more intriguingly, the innovation and agility displayed in these emerging markets have begun to influence the way developed transport systems in the USA and Europe alike – in a concept called “Mobility-as-a-Service”. 

The latest review of Cape Town’s Comprehensive Integrated Transport Plan (CITP) estimated that there were about 23 758 minibus taxi vehicles registered as of May 2015.  This mode of informal transport provide connections between various origin and destination pairs within the City, and it is estimated that there are around 800 routes carrying approximately 556 720 passengers per day. Due to the informal nature of their services, it is difficult to know exactly how many routes or passengers are utilizing this type of mode, and therefore it is very difficult to plan or regulate this mode – until now.

On 15 May innovative mobility startup GoMetro, domiciled in South Africa, announced it is partnering with international technology distribution and development firm, GMG Technology, domiciled in Mauritius, to launch the transport mapping and data collection platform, GoMetro Pro, to the global markets through a distribution, product development and internationalization agreement. 

“Thanks to our partnership with GMG Technology and their deep experience and know-how in the distribution and development of enterprise software for the international market, GoMetro Pro has a self-service platform – so users anywhere in the world can log in and build their own projects themselves,” says CEO and GoMetro founder Justin Coetzee. ​

“GMG Technologies focuses on bringing innovative technology to the global market and enhancing these technologies through further development to bring maximum value to our customers, our partnership with GoMetro is a perfect illustration of this and we are very excited about the incredible work done so far. This technology will have a very real impact on the way cities are planned, companies organize staff movements and how people run their daily lives. We are proud to be part of this and we will continue to work together to keep adding more value to the platform.’ Says Richard Dewing, Director of GMG Technologies.

“Better data management from something like the GoMetro Pro app leads to better regulation, which leads to better licensing and planning. This in turn leads to better operations and better passenger information available, which means better revenues and profits for the owners. Everybody wins,” said Coetzee. Because the system works with the data that’s there on the ground, no matter how chaotic, you can turn any unscheduled, highly informal transport system in any country into one that’s scheduled, on-demand and thus convenient, and fully operational in real time. It may well be the great equalizer of public transport systems worldwide, lessening the gap between ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ with just one platform. 

What sets GoMetro as a platform apart is both the sheer amount of data it creates – more than 500 000 kilometers, which is more than 11 trips around the Earth – as well as the accuracy and rapid deployment of onboard vehicle survey methodology. “The Onboard Surveys are critical – it’s the only application that collects all the information you need to profile a route, a vehicle and a passenger at the same time on any transport network, providing unprecedented data on urban mobility,” explains Coetzee. The result is a grassroots approach that tells researchers on the ground, current information about a route and transport method as experienced by passengers and drivers alike.

Recently Transitec, an international transport planning firm, together with France’s Agence Française de Développement, used GoMetro Pro to do onboard data collection in Tunis for their transport systems. Comprehensive data was able to be harvested from 25 stations throughout the city, using GPS tracking and economical analysis. More than 50 routes and 6 kilometers’ worth of data were harvested across multiple vehicles, as well as the ‘mapping’ of both drivers and passengers using qualitative interviews, cellphones, mappers and other technology to get authentic on-the-street information. Rollout and implementation of system improvements and upgrades were ready in just four short weeks, meaning that all that was required was police authorization, and the Tunisian government had a new and improved way for busses to move in just a month. 

GoMetro Pro will create a wealth of data and the means to put it to use – not just for civil engineers or town planning authorities, but anyone who downloads the rider app. Even better, people worldwide will have access immediately. “The software will be available globally from 15 May to be used by anyone who downloads the app, whether they are in Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America or anywhere else in the world where informal transport networks are dominant” promised Coetzee.

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

Click here or on the page link below to read on: Page 2: Soldiers and Health in 2099.

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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Street art goes electric

Kaspersky Lab and British street artist D*Face have unveiled the first-ever “art helmet” design at the Formula E finale for electric cars in New York.

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The ‘Save The World’ helmets will be raced by DS Virgin Racing’s drivers, Sam Bird and Alex Lynn, as they traverse the New York street circuit during the final races of the Formula E season.

The announcement signals the first art helmet by a Formula E team, continuing the heritage of art in motorsport and the cybersecurity brand’s commitment to contemporary art, creativity and innovation. D*Face took inspiration from Kaspersky Lab’s tagline, “A Company To Save The World”, and hopes that his colourful work will inspire people to take positive action.

D*Face will announce his first-ever art car design with a custom-made livery for the DS Virgin Racing Team. Its design will be released at the “Art Goes Green” event after Saturday’s race. The helmets and art car are the latest installations in the “Save the World” collection, following a major permanent public mural that was installed in Brooklyn, New York, in May.

D*Face, whose real name is Dean Stockton, said: “It is exciting to work with Kaspersky Lab on this project and create art with a real message of hope for a better future. After all, this is our world and we need to look after it. It will take every one of us to make a real lasting, impactful change. I love the mentality of the DS Virgin Racing Team and that of Formula E by showcasing sport in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, but is still just as exhilarating and fun.

“It is time for us all to stand together and make a change… be that stopping data steals, climate change, plastic waste or using damaging fuels. I want everyone to make a pledge to do one thing that will help make a change.”

As a sponsor of DS Virgin Racing Team, Kaspersky Lab is responsible for protecting the team’s devices against cyber threats. The company sees the technical environment in the global sport of Formula E as the next frontier in furthering its research and development of new technologies to keep vehicles secure in the digital world.

Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director at DS Virgin Racing, said: “The whole team fully supports this great initiative and our thanks got to Kaspersky and D*Face for their collaboration. It’s an honour to have such an innovative artist bring his talents to bear in our team ahead of the season-finale; the car, drivers’ crash helmets and mural all look amazing.”

Aldo Fucelli Pessot del Bo, Head of Global Partnerships and Sponsorships at Kaspersky Lab added: “There is a need for innovation on a global scale, both in contemporary art and in the fast-growing sport of Formula E. Now, for the first time ever, Kaspersky Lab is proudly bringing together the two sectors in an effort to Save the World and unleash creativity, encourage freedom of expression and further innovation.”

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