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Comment: The benefits that smart cars bring to smart cities

When contemplating the future of smart cars, few people take the time to imagine the world around the car because they're too busy thinking about the cool things these cars can do, says Yagil Tzur, VP of Products at Tactile Mobility.


But to maximise the potential benefits of smart vehicles, we must also have smart cities that feature intelligent infrastructure. Such infrastructure can communicate directly with the vehicle, and vice-versa, to help streamline the city’s roads.

In a truly smart city, roadway infrastructure such as traffic lights and pedestrian crossings can send messages to vehicles, relaying information, or even commands. Conversely, smart vehicles would be able to capture real-time data with on-board sensors as they drive and transmit that data to road authorities to provide insights on traffic and road conditions and to inform traffic management decisions. The more intelligent cars on the road, the more insights and data that smart cities will have to use. This can make our roadways less congested and safer and our cities more efficient.

Imagine a city where streets, infrastructure, and vehicles all communicate, operating as a hive mind. That’s the city I envision, a city that can be realised with smart vehicles and sensing technology.

Data of the future

The magic behind smart cities and connected cars lies in their ability to capture and communicate data. This two-way flow of information, between vehicles and infrastructure (V2I) and between vehicles themselves (V2V), unlocks a new level of efficiency, safety, and optimisation for our transportation systems.

What are the implications of this kind of communication? Well, smart vehicles that come complete with a litany of sensors can capture real-time information on the world around the vehicle and road conditions, such as tire grip, friction, slipperiness, or even road obstructions like potholes.

Safeguarding vehicles and infrastructure from malicious interference is paramount

That data is transmitted instantly for the city to respond to, eliminating risks and ensuring rapid action on road safety issues. Smart cities can also instantly apply data from vehicles on the road to infrastructure like traffic lights, allowing for a better flow of traffic.

With smart vehicles, road authorities can glean real-time data on a seemingly less limitless number of metrics, apply it in the management of roads and traffic flows, and leverage it in the design and development of new roads.


One way that cars connect with smart cities is through dedicated short-range communication (DSRC). Imagine traffic lights and electronic signs equipped with tiny radio stations. These stations broadcast data using DSRC, which acts like a short-range walkie-talkie for vehicles. Cars with DSRC receivers can pick up these signals, informing the driver of things like upcoming construction zones or remaining time at a red light. This allows drivers to change their routes, utilise fuel-saving features, and in general be better prepared for changing road conditions.

Cars can also talk directly to each other using DSRC. Imagine a vehicle that can create a real-time picture of its surroundings by the input it receives from the vehicles around it. This V2V data exchange is the backbone of features like collision avoidance systems, blind-spot warnings, and even “platooning,” in which multiple vehicles move in a coordinated fashion.

But for this intricate network of car-to-city and car-to-car communication to function smoothly, two key elements are needed: standardisation and security. Standardised protocols and communication formats ensure every part of the infrastructure speaks the same language. This allows all vehicles and infrastructure elements to understand the data they’re exchanging, regardless of manufacturer or model.

Additionally, robust cybersecurity measures are essential to protect these communication channels from hacking and manipulation. Safeguarding vehicles and infrastructure from malicious interference is paramount for a truly reliable and secure connected transportation system.

Final thoughts

The future of transportation won't be built on asphalt alone, but on a foundation of data. With smart vehicles that capture data, and cities capable of receiving and responding to that data, we can design roads with unparalleled levels of efficiency and safety.

We’re well on the way to having a smarter, safer, and more efficient transportation system for everyone. By embracing the synergistic potential of smart cars and smart cities, we can create a future in which the journey is just as enjoyable as the destination.

Yagil Tzur, VP of Products at Tactile Mobility