Ashwini Bhide (IAS), Managing Director, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation

Enterprises in the transportation sector are increasingly leveraging new-age solutions to improve their overall efficiency and deliver world-class services. As such, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), big data and blockchain are making inroads into the sector as organisations are discovering newer use cases. Moreover, low latency, high capacity and reliability offered by 5G technology is expected to have a significant impact on how goods and people travel. Going forward, the future of the transportation sector will be carved by radical transformation through major disruptive technologies based on intelligent transport systems, mainly driven by Industry 4.0 and data analytics, from hyperloop to autonomous and remotely piloted vehicles. Industry leaders share their views on the role of new-age technologies in transforming the sector, key technologies deployed by their companies, opportunities that 5G brings in and the way forward…

How are new-age technologies such as AI/ML, big data, blockchain and IoT transforming the transportation and mobility sector?

Next-generation technologies such as AI/ ML, big data, blo­ck­chain and internet of things (IoT) are now making their way into the transportation and mobility sector. Metro rail systems are increasingly adopting the intelligent infrastructure concept that allows data to be utilised to automate operations and maintenance. Likewise, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) is exploring the adoption of these latest technologies in the fields of enterprise asset management, condition-based and predictive maintenance, video analytics, etc., for the Metro-3 project.

What are the key digital solutions being dep­loy­ed by your organisation? How have they helped improve business and operations?

Key digital systems being implemented for Metro-3 are:

  • Communications-based train control (CBTC) with unattended train operation (UTO);
  • Automatic train supervision (ATS) with live connectivity to passenger displays/ announcements at stations and on trains;
  • Automatic fare collection (AFC) system;
  • BMS and SCADA;
  • 3D BIM (building information modelling);
  • Enterprise asset management; and
  • Video analytics, etc.

What opportunities have 5G and private mobile networks opened up for the transport se­c­tor in India? How are enterprises prepared to capture the potential of these innovations?

5G and private mobile networks will play a crucial role in the transport sector in India. Initiatives such as the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC)-based transit sm­art card, mobile app-based and UPI (unified payment interface)-based payment systems, availability of mobile coverage in underground tunnel sections of metros, etc. will immensely help passengers.

What are the major challenges while deploying advanced technologies in enterprises? How is system security and data privacy being en­sured amid rapid digital transformation?

Some of the major challenges while dep­loying advanced technologies in the transit sector are:

  • Inherent and growing technology development and complexity of existing systems, which are now roadblocks for further new technology adoption;
  • Managing multiple vendors for infrastructure solutions;
  • Increased management and overhead costs, which sometimes offset the benefits of new technology deployments;
  • Development of knowledge and skills in urban mass transit networks; and
  • Establishing management information sy­stem for effective and efficient netwo­rk operations, better security and sa­fe­ty management, and handling of disasters/crisis situations.

What, according to you, will be key digital trends that will reshape the sector in the next three years?

Some of the key digital trends that will reshape the sector in the next three years include:

  • NCMC-based transit smart card, leading to “one nation one card”;
  • Wide acceptability of UPI payment;
  • Enterprise asset management with integrated 3D BIM for assets and infrastructure; and
  • Migration from periodic maintenance to condition-based and predictive maintenance using AI and IoT.