BY PRINCE OSUAGWU
A team of IBM experts completing a month-long consulting assignment, at the weekend presented recommendations to the Lagos State Government which they believed could help ensure a more efficient flow of traffic in Lagos.
Working with the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, LAMATA, 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’ geographical area is taken up by water, but most commuter travel in the state is by road. 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, carrying 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. More efficient decison-making would be based on data gathering and analysis from a variety of sources such as cell phones, call centres, cameras, and global positioning systems devices.
This accurate and up-to-date information would assist the agencies better manage traffic flow. It would also enable them to wirelessly provide travelers with information such as road and traffic conditions, as well as bus, boat and toll schedules.
Also included among the proposals was a single, integrated e-ticketing system for all modes of transportation (similar to New York City’s Metro Card or London’s Oyster card systems) and integrated fare management.
The introduction of roadway toll rates based on traffic density would also help encourage the use public transportation, bringing less pollution and increased revenue. The state was also advised to create a single platform for all its traffic and transportation-related data, integrating all agencies and modes of transport, allowing seamless passenger transfers.
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. 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 incorporated existing infrastructure, and proposed strategies for self-funded projects.
“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,” Kayode Opeifa, Lagos State commissioner for transport said.
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 West Africa’s leading commercial hub with the region’s largest air and seaports. The city generates 25% of national gross domestic product and its citizens account for 12% of Nigeria’s population.
“Lagos will continue to be a significant element 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 Executive Service Corps 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.