GPS road pricing, mobile apps to drive LTA vision

Singapore's Land Transport Authority looking at global positioning system to improve country's Electronic Road Pricing infrastructure and planning to introduce new portal to push mobile apps to commuters.

GPS road pricing, mobile apps to drive LTA vision

Singapore's transport authority is exploring ways to further improve the country's road pricing system as well as keep pace with market changes driven by the uprising of social networks and mobile computing.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is currently looking at the next iteration of the country's Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system--a deployment the government agency is widely associated with in the city-state. Implemented in 1998, the system has provided an efficient way for the Singapore government to monitor and manage traffic conditions through variable road tolls.

The government is currently assessing the feasibility of enhancing the 13-year technology with the integration of global positioning system (GPS), removing the need to install ERP gantries.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia, LTA's chief innovation officer Rosina Howe-Teo, explained: "We called for a tender to look into ERP 2.0... With the current potential of GPS, we're looking at a gantry-less ERP system. This means the city landscape will not be affected and it helps us finetune our pricing system."

She added that with a GPS-enabled system, LTA will be able to push information to motorists and update them about traffic conditions ahead of their journey.

The transport authority understands the importance of data. Howe-Teo noted: "We're been relying on a lot of sensors and cameras, and each of these devices relay a lot of information back to us.

"Not only are we able to validate some of the assumptions we made for our policy planning, we're also able to do analysis and predictive algorithm to give us a sense of traveling patterns in different scenarios, different situations," she said. "We're now looking at translating this into useful information to the man on the street."

LTA also recognizes the role mobile computing and social media networks play in disseminating information, she said. To tap these platforms, the land authority has been offering transport-related data for free to encourage the development of third-party apps, the CIO said.

These efforts have resulted in a new portal, which LTA will soon be introducing, to provide a directory of services that will be made available to the public, she revealed.

Howe-Teo said: "We have been working over the last year to put in place some of the processes on how to share data with the public, especially with third-party developers who can build creative apps using this data.

"Over the next couple of months, we'll be seeing more of such apps and we hope that through this co-creation program, members of the public can have more choices instead of depending on LTA to provide limited number of apps."