Florence's Smart Tram Inspires Future Tram Systems In European Cities
Trem of Florence, Italy. (Wikimedia Commons / Doricono)

JAKARTA - The City Authority of Florence, Italy together with architectural software firm ELASTIC, Italy is piloting the Smart Tram operational system on the city's streets, as part of an experiment to improve mobility and sustainability.

Funded by the European Union, ELASTIC's trial with the tram system in Florence focused on a system that would provide enhanced real-time location information and hazard detection.

The three trams have been equipped with sensors including cameras, inertial measurement units (IMUs) which measure vehicle speed and orientation, and LIDAR which measures proximity to certain objects.

To support this trial, three tram stops in the city have also been equipped with data collection, communication and computing devices to ensure accurate data flow.

trem di florence
Direct contact with the activities of city residents. (Commons/Smiley.toerist)

The project aims to provide an early indication of how smart cities of the future might function, with sustainability and pollution reduction at their heart.

Eduardo QuiƱones, ELASTIC coordinator and senior researcher at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center explained, the aim of this trial is to offer future city dwellers an alternative to private self-driving vehicles.

"Busy urban spaces require innovative transportation solutions and smart city applications," he explained.

To achieve this, he believes it is important to make transportation more agile, with flexible routes, depending on individual needs and what is happening in the city, backed by accurate data.

Experiments taking place in Florence are working on the creation of so-called smart zones, combining data from tram lines, city streets and pedestrian crossings.

trem di florence
Tram in Florence. (Wikimedia Commons/Smiley.toerist)

Making cities more sustainable is at the heart of this project. How to do it? The main goal is to reduce the use of private cars. Therefore, electric vehicles also have an environmental impact, because of the material they are made of.

The project also hopes to limit pollution in other ways, by making the computers that power intelligent transportation systems more efficient.

The next step for ELASTIC is a smart tram system that knows where the tram is, whether there are obstacles on the track or at the stop, and to track the movement of people and vehicles. However, the decentralized nature of the system poses problems.

"There are different modes of computers that must coordinate to produce the same response. This is a challenge that technology needs to overcome. It is important to have (data) in real time," QuiƱones explained.

He added that ELASTIC aims to reduce the number of tram-related accidents in Florence, Italy by a quarter, to increase the city's traffic flow by five percent and to reduce transportation system maintenance costs by 30 percent.

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