Cities around the world are tapping into the fast-growing "Internet of things" (IoT) to move people and vehicles more efficiently and safely. These sophisticated new transportation systems will greatly improve our quality of life, but successful new technology also tends to create dependence. Case in point: how anxious do we feel if our cellphone battery dies or we forget it at home? With great power comes great responsibility, so ITS buyers and builders need to ensure that the new capabilities they're creating also come with the 100 percent uptime their users will need.
The more complex our transportation systems become, the greater the risks they present if they fail. For example, Forbes reports that by 2020, there are expected to be 10 million self-driving cars and 250 million smart cars on the road, connected by "a complex system of sensors, cameras and software that helps vehicles absorb data from their environments and learn and respond to what the data is telling them." If you've ever seen the backup at a malfunctioning traffic light, imagine the problems and safety issues that would result if hundreds or thousands of connected and self-driving vehicles were locally cut off from their data sources.
According to VentureBeat, the transportation industry will spend $85 billion on IoT solutions by 2020. It will be exciting to see what innovations the combination of smart "things", machine learning/artificial intelligence, and our imagination will bring. But as system designers add sophisticated new technology to ITS, they also need to double down on basics such as providing ultra-reliable system power to ensure 100% uptime and availability.
The watchword among transportation pundits is that "data is the new oil." That may be true, but it is certainly true that, in the brave new world of connected transportation systems, without the power that delivers the data, everything will grind to a halt.