The Future of Urban Mobility: Leveraging Event Data for Smarter Cities

Published on June 10, 2024

The Power of Event Data in Urban Mobility

Event data is a crucial component in the effort to understand and improve urban mobility. For example, a major sporting event or music festival can attract thousands of attendees, leading to increased traffic congestion and overcrowded public transportation services. 

By understanding the expected impact of events on traffic, public transportation, and the city as a whole, cities can better manage congestion and enhance the overall efficiency of urban movement in the following three ways:

1. Predicting and working around traffic disruptions

Events, from food festivals to parades, cause significant disruptions in traffic patterns. By incorporating event data into urban mobility planning and models, cities can predict where and when congestion will occur and implement strategies to mitigate these impacts. This proactive approach helps to maintain smoother traffic flow and reduce the frustration and economic costs associated with traffic jams.

Companies from delivery platforms, restaurants, and grocery delivery companies like Instacart use event data to predict disruptive events and re-route their delivery drivers, or temporarily disable entire service areas when there’s a major event such as a marathon, parade, or other event which shuts down streets and limits urban mobility.

2. Enhancing public safety during event-driven demand surges

Predictive analytics, bolstered by intelligent event data, enable cities to forecast high-risk areas for accidents. By understanding the correlation between event types, subtypes, and traffic incidents, municipalities can deploy resources more effectively to improve response times and enhance public safety. For instance, municipal employees can be strategically positioned in areas to direct traffic where accidents are more likely to occur during major events, and first responders can be alerted in advance of these high-risk areas.

3. Optimizing public and private transportation for event attendees

Public transportation systems are the backbone of urban mobility. Event data helps transit authorities to anticipate surges in ridership and adjust services accordingly. By aligning bus and train schedules with the expected demand from local events, cities can provide more reliable and efficient public transportation services, encouraging greater use of these eco-friendly options. Similarly, rideshare operators and taxis use intelligent event data to predict when and where there will be a surge in demand, and position themselves to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of the influx of event attendees.

Case Study: How Munich uses data to improve urban mobility

Munich, Germany, is a leading example of how information about events is being used to revolutionize urban mobility where IBM, PredictHQ, and INRIX are transforming urban planning with data-driven insights.

Imagine a city where first responders can anticipate and prevent accidents before they happen. IBM SAMiS is the cutting-edge prediction model that makes this a reality by accurately forecasting accident risk in Munich.

SAMiS uses PredictHQ event data, INRIX traffic flow data, and IBM's advanced ML models to inspire cities, public sector organizations, and anyone impacted by events to demonstrate new and innovative ways of combining data for smart city insights, including:

  • Predictive traffic management: By analyzing event data, Munich can predict congestion hotspots and reroute traffic to minimize delays.

  • Enhanced safety measures: IBM SAMiS uses predictive analytics to identify potential accident zones and deploy resources proactively, reducing the incidence of traffic accidents.

  • Efficient public transit: Munich’s public transportation system can adjust its operations based on anticipated event-driven demand, providing timely and effective service to residents and visitors.

Explore how data is paving the way for smarter, safer cities worldwide 

Event data is unlocking new possibilities in urban mobility by playing a key role in providing cities with the tools they need to create smarter, safer, and more sustainable urban environments. Munich’s success with the SAMiS project highlights the transformative potential of integrating event data into urban mobility planning, and that it's not a futuristic concept, but a practical solution for today’s urban challenges. To learn more about how data-driven insights are transforming urban planning, download our comprehensive white paper on the subject.