Quang, who is a member of a group of experts – assistants to the National Committee on Digital Transformation, talked to VietNamNet about the plan on collecting tolls from vehicles entering certain areas of Hanoi to prevent the number of vehicles and ease traffic congestion.
What would you, as a technology expert, say about the plan to collect tolls from the vehicles entering the inner city?
Any project must be placed in the overall development of the smart traffic system of Hanoi. Smart traffic solutions must be the effective combination of building solutions, technological solutions and management solutions. Single technology initiatives are difficult to exploit and easy to fail.
In principle, the restriction of vehicles entering a specific area means intentionally restricting socio-economic activities of the area. So, when comparing the benefits/costs of the project, it is necessary to also calculate the costs related to the decline in socio-economic activities, not just the costs on installation and running technological systems.
What do other countries do to ease traffic congestion in the inner cities like Hanoi?
The core solution is developing public transport, making it play the key role in cargo and passenger transport. In current conditions, it is necessary to develop a smart public transport system, in which all means of public transport connect each other, connect stations, parking lots and passengers in real time.
Digital technology now allows the development of such systems. When everything connects to each other effectively, public transport will become more convenient. If so, we can apply additional measures that lead to an increase in the cost of using private transport means, such as collecting tolls from vehicles entering the inner city. This method eases traffic jams, while it lessens the socio-economic activities in restricted areas.
In these countries, the public transport systems run based on fixed schedules. Passengers know exactly what time the buses they need will arrive, and therefore, can plan their travel.
But in the current conditions of Hanoi, this is unfeasible.
However, if all transport means can connect and provide information about their positions in accordance with real time, the system would be able to regulate transport means more effectively, and provide passengers with the information about the departure and arrival time. That may be enough for many passengers.
Regarding the transport infrastructure, we can apply digital technologies with building and management solutions in order to heighten the efficiency of existing infrastructure. Da Nang, for example, is using smart traffic lights to adjust time in accordance with the real traffic situation.
Hanoi is also restructuring the traffic organization at some points which regularly see traffic congestion such as Nguyen Trai and Nga Tu So intersection.
What does Hanoi need to become a green, smart and modern city?
In my viewpoint, a smart city is a digitally transformed city, a green one.
The principle is that new construction works must be ‘smart’ from the very beginning, while the projects on upgrading and gentrification must comprise of smart content.
In a developing city, the ‘implantation’ of the ‘genes of smart’ by issuing planning, regulations and suitable standards is to ensure that the ‘smart parts’ in the city can ‘talk with each other’ to create a smart city as a whole.
In other words, building smart cities must be shown in all city development planning, all urban development programs and projects. It would be unreasonable if officials plan and build a city which is not smart, and later call on digital technology experts to come and turn the city smart.
Technologically, the application of initiatives of utilizing digital technology could bring certain effects in the short term. However, if the apps cannot connect to each other, and data cannot be shared, the effects won’t be high enough and won’t be sustainable.