Sunday, March 27, 2016

Embarking on information technology can reduce congestion and air pollution in our cities.

By Abdalah Kileo
Many jobs, businesses and other activities are drawn into city centers, you can find shops, restaurants, financial services, Government ministries, libraries, colleges, open spaces and other facilities all concentrated in a city centers. Since very few people lives in the city center, most of those surrounding the city centers have to access the city through walking, bicycles, motorcycles, public and private cars for their daily activities. This has led to sometimes intolerable levels of traffic congestion on urban streets as well as the main road accessing the city, causing delays and severely effect on productivity of business, their ability to innovate and business access to new markets and resources. The problem of congestion span from the business to people who live in our city, they finds themselves stuck in traffic when they should be at work or school and sometimes frustrated at the time wasted in trying to get from point A to point B. The problem go far where it increases oil consumption  and CO2 emissions as well as noise emission from transport, with people living along congested routes and very busy towns like Dar Es Salaam they suffer from poorer air quality for most of their life.
Therefore working on different ways that can reduce congestion as well as pollution is crucial to make our cities safe and bring about sustainable development, several ways are often discussed such as; investing in public transport, walking and cycling and so on, but only a few are concerned with the use of Information Communication Technologies . Today let’s look on the role that can be played by this technology to curb the problem:- 
 Information communication technologies have been the main driver for globalization, solving most of the global problems. The problem for congestion and pollution in Tanzania can be reduced when residents in public and private institutions embark on different technological applications to manage and reduce the need to travel. The Information Communication technologies likes e-learning,e-Commerce,e-Government,Intelligent Transport systems, and others can manage and reduce the need to travel and therefore curb traffic congestion and pollution in our cities.
 For example we know students contributes to a big number of passengers that uses public and private transportation. The e-learning system can reduce the number of students who uses the public and private transport to access the campus which are located in the city centers, for examples in Dar Es Salaam campuses like DIT, Mzumbe, IFM,CBE and other which are located at city centers can embark on e-learning system for their students to take some of their courses online during peak hours. Online classes is sharing educational materials via the Internet as well as developing new ways of teaching based on those materials for both on-campus and online audiences, depending on the course design, pure online class or combination of online and traditional class you may take your tests or exams online or come to a testing room on campus or at a local registered center. Many of the Universities are already applying digital tools from online courses in an effort to transform student experiences here in Tanzania. For example at DIT through Sikshak platform and University of Dar Es Salaam, programs for Postgraduate through Virtual University are run online. In a global perspective there are number of online platform like edX created by  Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology aimed at expanding access to high-quality education through online classes while also transforming teaching and learning on their respective campuses courses. Another platform cousera, which is provides free courses online in partnership with World top Universities. 
Another way is e-Government where Government institutions smoothly interact with its people, employees, and other Government. For example establishing one stop centres is important component to improve the services offered by the Government to the public. Establishment of one stop centers for Government services in different locations outside the city centers can facilitate all the Government institutions provides services to the public in one roof and reduce the number of people seeking such services in a city centres. 
The centers which can be located in different parts of the country will provides the timely, efficient and effective services for residents, this also reduces the cost of doing business by reducing the normal processing time for applications and minimize bureaucracy in the procedure and process of starting a business as well as compliance to different regulations .On the other hand the Government reduce the expenditures as well as increasing revenues the act which enhance the public service delivery system by local governments and improve the business climate condition for investors. The E-Government will also enable those who can be working at home or those who are working near one stop centres, reducing their travel time and pollution.  
The applications of information communication technologies in every aspect of transportation from managing infrastructures, passengers and business can reduce the congestion at the same time improving safety and bringing about sustainable development. Although it’s difficult to develop and implement all of them due to number of challenges in terms of economy, and technology, we can partly develop and implement some of them. The applications like e-ticket booking, traffic control systems, smart parking system, smart breakdown service system and others can reduce congestion.
For example in a place like city centers one can spend a lot of time looking for reasonable parking, the information about available parking spaces can reduced cruising time drivers spent looking for open spots. Again most of the breakdown in congestion are not reported on time, this cause unnecessary delay for other transportation due to condition of our infrastructure, availability of smart breakdown system which respond on whatever breakdown along the main road all the time is very important during peak hours. With the current technologies of WiFi, information and warning systems installed in individual vehicles, and other applications involving vehicle to infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communications can also solve the accidents problems in congestion. At advanced stage we can embark on a technologies that allow our cities connected with infrastructures, system which gives drivers the shortest route possible to access the city center.
We have significant challenges to fully deploy Intelligent Transport system in our country, Information communication technology has expanded the range, the type and number of transactions that can take place without travelling through virtual accessibility of goods and services online. 
Nowadays items like air tickets, clothing, electronics, software private and public services are done online through our mobile or computers. Although online shopping for groceries and households is still low in Tanzania because of different challenges like poor internet security, small number of people capable of using internet and address system where once your customer has purchased from your online store, the product they have bought needs to be picked, packed and delivered.e-Commerce in most of the developed World has enabled people to reduce travel need, optimize use of  infrastructure and transportation to make mobility of people more convenient.
It is my believe that when every person plays his part the problems of traffic congestion, pollution and health as a resulted from emission of dangerous gases and noise pollution from our automobiles in our cities and intercity will decrease and finally the issue of safety of our people where dozen of road transport accidents have occurred will stop.
Abdalah Kileo
University of Fukui Graduate School of  Engineering.
 910-8507 Fukui Prefecture Fukui,
Bunkyo 3-chome No. 9 No. 1

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