Technology

Here’s what ‘smart cities’ will mean for travel

Simon Akeroyd

Around the world, cities are becoming smarter.

Cities as unique as Singapore, San Francisco and Tel Aviv are all using advanced technologies to address complex, modern challenges of rapid population growth, traffic congestion and inadequate energy and resources, to make cities more safe, livable and sustainable.

The ubiquity of new services platforms and applications that use the Internet of Things, ‘Mobility as a Service’, virtual and augmented reality, and voice recognition among others, are also changing the ways in which people work and live, and interact with businesses and tourism destinations.

To meet increasing tourism flows and traveller demands from the Asia Pacific region – estimated to be the source of more than half of the world’s 7.8 billion passengers to travel in 2036 – collaboration between the Australian government, the travel industry and stakeholders is required to expand and modernise city infrastructure.

Smart tourism has become integral to the Government and local councils’ plans remain competitive and develop urban spaces into smart cities, by harnessing the power of new technology to create the travel experiences that global tourists have come to expect.

The future of travel will be driven by multi-modal journeys and data that can offer intuitive, personalised and seamless experiences. By facilitating the collection and sharing of that data, Australia’s major cities could create new and indispensable digital services.

Merlion Statue

Take Singapore for example – whose public sector has been the flag bearer for the nation’s smart city initiative. Ministries and public agencies in Singapore have pioneered the use of urban sensing, geo-tracking and predictive and real-time analytics to empower commuters with live transport and traffic updates, and even help them find a carpark.

One solution to addressing Australia’s geographical complexities for tourists, could be the Singapore Land Transport Authority’s MyTransport.sg Mobile. By using API Live Data collected from city sensors and traffic cameras/feeds, the mobile app provides real-time, customisable and end-to-end information on all modes of transport in Singapore such as buses and trains, and the traffic condition and waiting times.

It even includes an interactive map, where visitors can plan their journey to events or business promotions happening in the city. This would be a lifesaver for many tourists in Australia, who find the public transport system confusing and complex to navigate.

Terminal and ground access to Australian airports will come under increasing strain from the boost in tourism, and travel technology companies will play a key role in connecting systems across the travel value chain, to move activity off-airport, streamline processes and improve efficiencies. Amadeus is already collaborating with cities in Asia-Pacific to connect their different means of transportation, set-up booking and payment systems, and improve the marketing and management of cities as destinations, to attract more travellers.

Amadeus is focusing on two major pain points for cities; the need for the transportation system to connect to the airport, to ensure travellers have a smooth experience from the departure point through to the final destination; and creating a more efficient user experience, through multi-modal itineraries and new customer touchpoints.

The airline check-in process at Australian airports is arguably one of the most frustrating and time-consuming parts of the travel experience, with tourists often facing long airport queues and congestion. To solve this, Amadeus has joined forces with Off-Airport-Check-In-Solutions (OACIS) to reinvent the check-in experience and offer travellers a fully mobile check-in service at off-airport locations like cruise line ports, hotels or major conferences in Australia.

Over the next 20 years, cities around the world are set to invest a total of US$41 trillion on smart city strategies, with many flow-on benefits for Australia’s travel and tourism industry in the form of new partnerships, infrastructure projects and growth.

As the next phase of technological development approaches, bringing a new layer of connected intelligence, all travel and tourism stakeholders – governments, private companies, travel agents and airports – need to work together to design and build their future smart cities.


This article is by Simon Akeroyd, VP Corporate Strategy & Business Development – ‎Amadeus Asia Ltd

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