Sponsored As economies around the world emerge from Covid-19 lockdown and we take our first steps towards resuming normal life, intelligent transport systems are set to play a crucial role in ensuring that we can travel safely and efficiently, and with confidence.
Huawei has been busy developing digital services across the transportation spectrum for over 20 years. Its engagement in rail, aviation, roadway, port, and public transport projects provides it with a unique opportunity to apply its experience and expertise in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G, big data, and cloud technologies to deliver a comprehensive range of customised intelligent solutions at both infrastructure and business-process levels.
The company is helping its transport customers and partners to make passengers safe during the Covid-19 pandemic by providing epidemic prevention and control solutions, such as non-contact temperature checks and automatic mask-wearing detection.
Shenzhen Airport, for example, has worked with Huawei to augment its smart airport solutions in response to the pandemic. This busy state-of-the-art airport was selected as an Airport of the Future by IATA, in an enviable shortlist in 2017, and has grown to serve over 52.9 million passengers last year. Huawei has helped to develop a detection and notification solution using intelligent patrol robots to automatically detect passengers not wearing masks, and a facial recognition system that allows passengers to keep their masks on while using the airport’s smart flight information display system.
Intelligent patrol robots
“In the early stages of the pandemic airport staff were using video surveillance to check whether passengers and other staff were wearing masks,” says Wang Guoyu, President of the Global Transportation Business Unit, Huawei. “We developed AI algorithm-enabled intelligent robots… and in March these robots started to detect passengers and staff in security check areas with an accuracy of 98 per cent. The robots send kind voice reminders to those without masks, improving the mask-wearing rate at the airport.”
Similarly, it took only three days to enable the airport’s smart flight information display systems (FIDS) to recognise people wearing face masks, thanks to Huawei’s unified digital platform. “The facial recognition algorithm is highly accurate,” says Wang. “It can achieve over 90 per cent accuracy while passengers wear face masks by leveraging a library of 300,000 facial images. Huawei’s unified digital platform greatly shortened the business roll-out time, which otherwise would have required more than two weeks using traditional methods.” There are similar stories for rail and road industries. For example, some metro stations in the Chinese city of Hefei (population eight million) use Huawei's holographic temperature check equipment for epidemic prevention and control.
“Labour and traditional methods aren’t enough to address the epidemic prevention and control challenges faced by the transportation industry,” says Wang. “It needs to leverage technology to cope with pandemics.”
Huawei has developed three types of epidemic prevention and control solutions for the transportation industry, including epidemic monitoring, emergency command, and collaborative office, to ensure that work can be resumed smoothly. “By adhering to the principle of ‘keeping risks outside and controlling risks inside’, these solutions can comprehensively improve the industry’s epidemic prevention and control capabilities.”
Huawei’s intelligent operation centre solution (IOC) for urban rail and airports is central to the company’s efforts in helping the transport sector monitor and contain the epidemic. An IOC acts as a ‘brain’ for all the data collected from a station or airport so that transport managers can build a visual and comprehensive epidemic prevention and control system.
Personnel can use handheld mobile terminals to collect epidemic data and track tasks at stations and airports for grid management. Passengers can also receive the latest epidemic information from the IOC via mobile apps as well as registering their own health status. The urban rail/airport IOC collects statistics on the number of people leaving, entering, and returning to a specific area based on data from operators, railways, and aircraft, and pushes information to management personnel for timely management and control.
“At Shenzhen airport the IOC collects passenger and flight data in real time and conducts topic analysis,” says Wang. “Using AI-based video analysis and other methods, it implements end-to-end event management of flights and passengers, and supports real-time linkage and unified scheduling across multiple departments.
“The IOC greatly increases the efficiency with which confirmed and suspected cases of Covid-19 can be validated, and it ensures that the airport epidemic situation can be checked, managed, and controlled by providing real-time ICT methods for passenger screening and tracking.” Data reports from the airport IOC are sent to management and agencies dealing with the pandemic more than 30 times per day, contributing to consistent key messaging and unified data specifications.
Huawei’s WeLink smart digital office system has also come to the fore during the pandemic to support collaborative working as people have shifted their work to their homes. “The battle against Covid19 is far from over,” adds Wang. “All industries need to apply more advanced digital ICT technologies to cope with effects of the pandemic.”
Conflicts between supply and demand
The transport sector has learned many lessons as a result of the pandemic, says Huawei, such as the value of replacing manual handling procedures with contactless self-service digital ones that serve to reduce passenger wait times and minimise the unwanted formation of queues and people density. The industry now understands the need for strong emergency management and procedures, and how enabling a digital approach can help it to be agile and launch new services quickly in the event of an emergency.
The Shanghai Metro, for example, developed and launched an epidemic information management software within two weeks by building a digital platform. “In addition, investing in intelligent video systems will help to minimise the need for contact,” says Wang. “With the advent of 5G and WiFi6, technologies like AI-enabled video provide a multitude of opportunities for revolutionising passenger flow and security. The consumer confidence that comes with such opportunities is key to achieving growth and sustainability in the transport sector.”
The transport sector must look to increase its investment in key technologies that improve the digitisation of infrastructure, according to Wang, who cites the way that 5G and AI can be coupled to leverage intelligent sensor capabilities and deliver solutions for autonomous driving, automatic transport, security management and the like.
Most importantly the transport sector needs to look to technology to address inevitable conflicts between demand and supply over the next few years - in that infrastructure resources are limited by land, environmental and energy constraints, whereas transport requirements continuously increase with economic development.
Technology, through the use of resource planning, optimal supply-demand matching, smart traffic control and the like, will play a critical role to resolve these conflicts, says Wang: “Reasonable resource planning means integrating multi-dimensional data digitally, and introducing technologies such as the cloud, big data and AI to predict requirements, simulate the effect after construction, and pro-actively plan, manage and share limited traffic resources more cost effectively.”
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