Nairobi highways, infamous for heavy traffic jams, are set for a major overhaul thanks to IBM’s Smart Cities programme survey that seeks to address cities’ competitiveness through key sector improvements.
A team of experts from IBM last week Friday tabled a report following a 3-week survey of the Kenyan capital’s transportation system.
According to the report, the use of mobile phones, sensors and CCTV Cameras for transport sector accountability could enable citizens, motorists, police, policymakers and planners to easily access public traffic information essential for better decision making thus improving traffic flows.
The report also recommended integration of data from multiple sources, including mobile phone signals generated from citizens stuck in traffic jams could pinpoint traffic hot spots.
It further recommended application of analytics software to predict future traffic flow issues, pushing the information needed to re-direct traffic to the intelligent operations center.
Other recommenedations included setting up an intelligent operations centre to leverage existing and new closed-circuit television networks that show vehicle, traffic and roadway conditions as events unfold. Citizens and police could then view the video feeds online leading to a decrease in traffic congestion as it would allow commuters to plan their trips and the police to allocate manpower more efficiently.
The recommendations come at a time when the Kenyan capital undergoes an overhaul of old roadway infrastructure. The Kenyan government spent over KSh28 billion on the Thika Super Highway, which has since eased congestion in the city.
Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications permanent secretary Dr. Bitange Ndemo said the government would review the IBM recommendations to be used to maintain Nairobi’s position as the region’s economic hub.
The IBM initiative was launched in 2010 and is a 3-year, 100-city USD50 million program. The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team spent three weeks in Kenya and did a study of the city’s transportation system, a process seeking to award the world’s smartest city with an IBM grant of around US $ 400,000.
Nairobi was among the 33 cities that received the award. Accra, Rabat and Tshwane became the only African cities among the IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge winners in March.
According to Stanley Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship, Nairobi demonstrated a desire to set an example for other municipalities, an eagerness to collaborate with multiple stakeholders, and a strong commitment to consider implementing recommendations the city felt would be the most feasible and beneficial to its residents.
Tony Mwai the Country General Manager, IBM East Africa, said: “A city is a system of systems. One key finding of the study is that technology could provide a relatively simple way of bringing together existing systems to streamline the city’s transport sector and increase revenues for the government.”
The IBM report was titled “A Vision of a Smarter City: How Nairobi Can Lead the Way into a Prosperous and Sustainable Future.”