Why Chicago wants to make mass transit more convenient (and connected)

Thu, 2017-01-12 10:34 -- Doug Peeples


Smart cities need engaged citizens to be successful. And cities have used several strategies as they work to achieve that citizen-city connection. We thought what Chicago and Council Lead Partner AT&T are doing to enhance connectivity and make urban mobility more convenient and seamless would interest other cities. If your city is working toward a smart transportation system, our story offers an option you may want to consider in your planning. — Doug Peeples


Chicago and AT&T have been working together on approaches and technologies to make the city more connected, smarter, livable and manageable for some time. (And Chicago was one of the firsts cities selected for the smart cities program the company launched last year.)

As part of that focus, the two entities will field test smart transit shelters that include free WiFi, digital displays that track and update bus arrival times and intelligent lighting.

The project also will include the installation of smart kiosks that offer USB charging ports and touch screens that provide useful information for travelers and, possibly, weather and public safety information.. For the pilot project, three bus shelters and five kiosks will be installed in various locations around the city.

The project is expected to begin sometime over the next two months.

As Mike Zeto of AT&T's Smart Cities unit was quoted as saying, "All the pilots we're doing are designed to keep the residents more productive and engaged as they move about town. The goal is to help the city try out tech that will provide benefits."

AT&T also is increasing the services it provides at the city's O'Hare International Airport. The company has been providing cellular coverage and free WiFi among other services and is adding digital displays that give travelers ground transportation information in real-time. It also is working on a project to collect data on how passengers move through the airport. That data is expected to provide airport managers with better insights into how they can help passengers.

For more on smart transportation...
If you'd like to learn more about how to kick your smart transportation plans into high gear, take a look at the Transportation chapter of the Smart Cities Readiness Guide. There you can find out about the benefits (like livability and workability) smart transportation systems provide and the four targets cities need to achieve to make them possible.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.