A team of IBM experts completing a month-long pro bono consulting assignment, has made recommendations to the Lagos State Government on how to ensure a more efficient flow of traffic.

Working with the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport and the Lagos State Ministries of Transportation, Works & Infrastructure, Science & Technology, the IBM team of experts proposed technology-driven strategies called ‘Smart Transportation’ to make travel easier.

According to a recent report,  20 per cent of Lagos’ geographical area is taken up by water, but most commuter travel in the state is by road. City authorities predict a 350 per cent growth in the number of vehicles in the state over the next 25 years, with the population doubling to 40 million by 2030. The potential of both rail and water transport remains largely untapped, carrying less than one per cent of overall traffic in the state.

The recommendations included better coordination between agencies responsible for traffic management, police, fire and medical care. More efficient decison-making would be based on data gathering and analysis from a variety of sources such as cell phones, call centres, cameras, and global positioning systems devices. This accurate and up-to-date information would assist the agencies better manage traffic flow.  It would also enable them to wirelessly provide travelers with information such as road and traffic conditions, as well as bus, boat and toll schedules.

Also included among the proposals was a single, integrated e-ticketing system for all modes of transportation (similar to New York City’s Metro Card or London’s Oyster card systems) and integrated fare management. The introduction of roadway toll rates based on traffic density would also help encourage the use public transportation, bringing less pollution and increased revenue. The state was also advised to create a single platform for all its traffic and transportation-related data, integrating all agencies and modes of transport, allowing seamless passenger transfers.

Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola said: “The need to deploy innovative approaches that address civic challenges in Lagos State has never been greater. Keeping up with the state’s growing appetite for services and resources is a herculean and continuous process. Our ability and growing success in attracting home-grown and international trade and investment activity, is generating a need for better governance and management practices. Technology is the key to the future, and we welcome IBM’s support in this regard.”

The team’s recommendations incorporated existing infrastructure, and proposed strategies for self-funded projects.

“IBM’s set of recommendations address our key transportation challenges and clearly enhance our ongoing efforts to fix the myriad of issues faced by our fast developing state,” Kayode Opeifa, Lagos State Commissioner for Transport said. Further confirming this point of view, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure said the state’s “blueprint for transforming our struggling infrastructure into a modern ecosystem driven by data intelligence and efficient resource management has been further authenticated by these set of recommendations from IBM.”

The collaboration between Lagos and IBM was funded by a Smarter Cities Challenge grant — one of only some 30 awarded globally for 2013.