Technological innovations taking place in the transportation sector are aimed at improving ease, efficiency and safety. Post the Covid-19 pandemic, passenger expectations have increased with regard to health, safety and security, and overall ridership experience. Meanwhile, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), ma­chi­ne learning (ML), internet of things (IoT) and 5G have become more advanced and widely available. In view of this, enterprises in the sector are aligning their operations and processes with Industry 4.0 standards, which have ushered in a new era for the sector.

Technological developments enable organisations to simplify their infrastructure, manage onboard and backhaul systems seamlessly and cost effectively, and process system and security data to derive insights – all of which are crucial for the future of mobility. This is translating into a widespread shift towards end-to-end digitalisation in the sector.

A look at the new-age technologies transforming the transportation space…


IoT is the most compelling new technology for the transportation sector. It integrates a wide network of embedded senso­rs, actuators, smart objects and other intelligent devices. This network collects real-time data and transmits it over speci­alised software to transform it and derive useful information. Transport providers can then use this information to enhance customer service, safety and staff well-being. IoT devices are being deployed in the transportation sector for a variety of applications to provide secure and efficient transport, notably in ticketing, security, surveillance and telematics systems. Some key use cases of IoT in transportation are collision prevention systems designed to alert drivers of obstacles and control the vehicle’s settings to avoid accidents; specific vehicle safety systems that monitor the physiological condition of the driver and prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver is intoxicated or tired; smart parking for real-time monitoring of vacant spots; au­­tomated toll and ticketing, which incorporate radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and other sensors; and an au­tomatic traffic light system. The use of IoT in vehicles also allows monitoring of fuel consumption and pollution levels, thus supporting the energy management and sustainability practices of enterprises.


Mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) is the integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand. MaaS has existed as a concept for several years but is becoming mo­re salient now. It essentially involves using technology interfaces and consolidating various digital channels to give users the fl­exibility to choose the optimum option from among multiple modes of mobility on a single platform. It also simplifies payments by offering subscription-based and pay-as-you-go models. Moreover, by of­fering services such as carpooling, on-de­ma­nd cabs, and advanced booking for intercity travel, MaaS discourages private ownership of ve­hicles, thereby helping reduce emissio­ns, pollution and accidents.


5G is increasingly becoming a part of the transportation industry as most start-ups, established companies and public enterpri­ses are integrating the technology into the­ir processes worldwide. For example, Sam­sung installed its 5G solutions across the metro network in Seoul, South Korea, in 2021, to deliver seamless connectivity to pa­ss­engers underground. In India, too, the recent commercial roll-out of 5G services is expected to be leveraged by organisations in the sector to streamline operations and enrich the passenger and driver experience.

With significantly faster connectivity and lower latency, 5G offers the benefit of improved download speeds and internet connectivity to subway commuters. In ad­di­tion, increased connectivity between mo­des of transport and integration of mo­bility options into a single MaaS platform will enable users to make the most suitable trip choices from a plethora of op­tions. Pa­ss­engers can enjoy a better onbo­ard en­tertainment display and substantially higher safety due to improved connectivity to the control centre and authorities, which will have a much lower response time in case of an emergency or assault. For enterprises, the technology has the ability to provide real-time monitoring of vehicles and user demand management, helping cr­e­ate a near-real-time origin-destination matrix to boost the operational efficiency of transport service providers. 5G will also support various types of communications for companies with two of the most important ones being vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), wherein vehicles relay signals di­rec­tly to each other, and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), wherein vehicles communicate with sensors on bridges, traffic signals and roads. Advances in V2V and V2I can improve the safety and reliability of autonomous driving algorithms.


AI and ML have become a necessity for all industries, and transportation is no exception. These technologies can improve the operational efficiency and productivity levels of enterprises in the sector by de­sig­ning the optimal transit routes and netwo­rks, enhancing passenger and public safety through predictive risk assessment and elimination, and improving customer support through engagement channels. Wor­king in conjunction with big data analytics, AI and ML are key to ensuring a consistent quality of service by scouring through data to identify patterns such as trends in travel routes, destinations, distance and de­­mand trends, as well as external factors affecting consumer behaviour.

There is a wide range of use cases for these technologies in transportation. For in­s­tance, smart route planning suggests fas­ter routes for both passengers and tra­ns­port providers. Other use cases include avoiding delays in the traffic flow; recognising time, place and cause of accidents; mo­nitoring CCTV footage; identifying suspicious behaviour for crime prevention; and object detection for navigation of autonomous vehicles. ML is utilised by organisations for analysing driver behaviour such as drowsiness and improving road safety.

Big data analytics

Big data analytics helps generate actionable insights from the huge volume of market and consumer data. It provides co­mplete end-to-end trip information in­cluding travel duration, trip origin and destination, trip distances, and routes. The enormous volume of data provides an opp­ortunity for forecasting and understanding customer requirements and aligning services accordingly. The increasing numbers of transit organisations, transportation departments and other enterprises in the industry are leveraging the technology to enhance their operational processes, business strategies and customer services. With high accuracy, big data analytics also allows enterprises to prioritise investments and allocate resources effectively. In addition, traffic data is key to solving urban mobility problems by helping identify bottlenecks and congestion hotspots as well as assist urban planners in building sustainable transport systems.


Data silos are a major challenge for both public and private enterprises in the transportation sector. Various departments, including revenue management, customer service, ticketing, and route planning, collect huge volumes of data, which is not always accessible to other departments. Us­ing cloud technology for the storage of this data helps in breaking down silos and facilitates information sharing across de­partments. This can further enable infor­med decision-making in organisations. Building digital twins of towns and cities is also made possible at a competitive price by advanced cloud computing. Digital twins allow transport operators and planners to test different route models to assess their impact on traffic, transport use, disruption, etc.

Near-field communication

As transport networks increasingly beco­me interconnected, near-field communication (NFC) technology is emerging as a major technology trend in the transportation sector. NFC is based on RFID technology. Passengers and travel operators are mutually benefiting from this. It allows paperless ticketing for passengers by enabling millions of smart devices to act as contactless tickets or transport car­ds. Us­ers can also change language settin­gs and explore destinations and offers, thus enjoying a smoother and more orga­nised journey. Meanwhile, it helps transport op­e­rators reduce sales and distribution costs along with environmental bene­fits. It facilitates quick, accurate and transparent ticket validation.

Challenges and the way forward

The transportation sector has lagged behind other sectors in its digital transformation journey during the past two decades. A major factor holding back en­terprises from integrating new digital sol­utions is their existing information technology infrastructure. Vendor lock-ins and complicated hardware of existing technology, especially in public transportation, can be challenging to upgrade, replace or integrate with new-age soluti­o­ns. Further­more, the transportation in­­dustry is one of the most high-value targets for cybercriminals. Rapid digitalisation and an increased number of endpoint devices have opened new avenues for ransomware attacks, risking enterprise and passenger data as well as sensitive government information.

Nonetheless, cutting-edge technologies are poised to transform transportation to meet the growing demand for auto­no­mous operations and rising customer ex­pectations. The focus is not only on en­han­cing overall efficiency but also on attaining the goal of sustainability. Going forward, these innovations will transform transport into a massively networked, integrated and user-centered space.