A team of IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) experts completing a month-long pro bono consulting assignment presented recommendations to Nigeria's Lagos State Government to ensure that private traffic and public transportation flows more efficiently in the city of Lagos -- Africa's most populous.
Working with the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, the agency responsible for developing and implementing the state's transportation blueprint, and the Lagos State Ministries of Transportation, Works & Infrastructure, Science & Technology, the IBM team of experts proposed technology-driven strategies to make travel easier.
Located in West Africa's rain forest belt, 20% of Lagos' 3,600sq.km geographical area is mostly waterways; however, 90% of commuter travel in the state is road based. City authorities predict a 350% growth in the number of vehicles in the state over the next 25 years, with the population doubling to 40 million by 2030. The potential of both rail and water transport remains largely untapped as they carry less than one percent of overall traffic in the state.
The recommendations included better coordination between agencies responsible for traffic management, police, fire and medical care. Informing the decisions of these departments would be data gathered and analyzed from a variety of sources such as cell phones, call centers, cameras, and global positioning systems devices. More accurate and up-to-date information can help transport management agencies better manage the city's traffic flow. It will also enable them to wirelessly provide travelers with information such as road and traffic conditions, as well as bus, boat and toll schedules, to help them plan their trips more effectively.
Also on the list of suggestions was a single, integrated e-ticketing system for all modes of transportation and integrated fare management. The introduction of roadway toll rates based on traffic density would also be helpful for encouraging the use public transportation, cleaner air and enhanced revenue. The state was also advised to create a single platform for all its traffic and transportation-related data so each agency and mode of transport is integrated, helping passengers interconnect seamlessly.
Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola says: "The need to deploy innovative approaches that address civic challenges in Lagos State has never been greater. Keeping up with the state's growing appetite for services and resources is a herculean and continuous process, and our ability and growing success in attracting home-grown and international trade and investment activity is generating a need for better governance and management practices. Technology is the key to the future, and we welcome IBM's support in this regard."
The team's recommendations took advantage of existing infrastructure, and suggested ways that projects could be self-funded.
"IBM's set of recommendations address our key transportation challenges and clearly enhance our ongoing efforts to fix the myriad of issues faced by our fast developing state," said Kayode Opeifa, Lagos State commissioner for transport.
Further confirming this point of view, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Lagos state commissioner for works and infrastructure, said the state's "blueprint for transforming our struggling infrastructure into a modern ecosystem driven by data intelligence and efficient resource management has been further authenticated by these set of recommendations from IBM."
Lagos is arguably one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and is West Africa's leading commercial hub with the region's largest air and seaports. Lagos generates 25% of national gross domestic product and its 20 million citizens account for 12% of Nigeria's population.
"Lagos will continue to be a significant patch of Africa's economic success story," said Taiwo Otiti, IBM's Country General Manager for West Africa. "An intelligent, interconnected logistics and transportation management system is a crucial must-have for any modern city, and this engagement with IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge team will further enhance the state's ability to deploy technology-driven solutions in a timely and strategic manner."
The collaboration between Lagos and IBM was funded by a Smarter Cities Challenge grant -- one of only some 30 awarded globally for 2013.
Launched in 2011, the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a three-year, 100-city, US$50 million competitive grant program. IBM's single-largest philanthropic initiative, the program assigns a team of six top IBM experts to each winning city to study a key issue identified by the city's leadership. The program was inspired by the global migration to cities.
According to the United Nations, in 2008 more than half the world's population began living in cities for the first time. These population centers are more economically powerful, politically influential, and technologically advanced than at any time in history. However, they also struggle with increased demand for services, along with budgetary and operational challenges.