Mobility is on the rise—everywhere. The number of motor vehicles on the road is expected to double by 2020, reaching more than two billion. Within the next 15 years or so, air passenger travel could double, while air freight could triple and container handling in ports could quadruple.

While mobility is empowering, the resulting congestion is not. The need of the hour is to optimize infrastructures and de-congest, and, where possible, invest in infrastructures. There is also a focus on improving the passenger experience, operational efficiency and infrastructure security (both physical and cyber).

New and innovative technologies are now available to meet these goals, including space technology. Space applications have already revolutionized transportation; all navigation devices use it. In fact, transportation represents 14% of global satellite communication revenues, with the market expected to double by 2019. But, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Space technology is playing a major role in the transportation sector through the following:

  • Satellite communication: Governments have identified a number of high priority applications required to meet the long-term strategic needs of the transport sector, such as onboard positioning, communication and data systems. Satellite communication is ideally suited as a core enabler for many of these applications, providing greater bandwidth, connectivity, data sharing and accuracy. For example, railways could use advanced satellite communication to ensure railroad crossing safety (PDF).
  • Satellite navigation:  Vehicles and phones already have satellite navigation systems installed. But, that’s only the beginning. Many transportation systems have incorporated satellite navigation, including road management, fleet management, advanced driver assistance, rail and road infrastructure, air traffic control, location-based, machine-to-machine and emergency systems. Given the growing demand for reliable and timely information, satellite navigation is becoming increasingly important, especially in the fields of safety and security.
  • Earth observation services: Today, earth observation data plays a fundamental role in tackling climate change and improving sustainability. Like governments, meteorologists and forecasters, transportation planners are looking at how they can use this data to their advantage. Take for instance, the potential hazards of natural disasters to transportation infrastructures. Let’s say a certain region is prone to landslides. Earth observation data provides a better understanding of the threat posed by landslides, the direct and indirect costs, and the required preventative and restorative maintenance.

Space technology has immense potential waiting to be exploited. It can reduce infrastructure costs, enhance the passenger experience through real-time information and improved security, support the growth in the use of public transport, reduce the carbon footprint through energy-optimized driving, and much more. With broad experience in both the transport and space sectors, including 36 years developing mission-critical space systems, CGI is working to exploit communication, navigation and earth observation technologies across the transportation industry to solve real-world challenges, improve performance and drive competitiveness.

Learn more about our transportation and space capabilities through the links found within this post. I’d like to thank my colleague, John Hanley, for collaborating with me on this blog.

About this author

Picture of Theo Quick

Theo Quick

Director, transport, CGI in the UK

With wide-ranging experience of the transport industry across Europe and the U. S. , Theo currently leads CGI’s transport business in the UK. He sits on the UK’s Automotive Council Technology Group and the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress and has been director of ITS ...

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