IOT, AI to help tackle Kenya's public transport dilemma

IOT, AI to help tackle Kenya's public transport dilemma

Tech transport firms plan to roll out solutions as govt preps to launch bus rapid transport system.

As Kenya's government prepares to launch bus rapid transport (BRT) in Nairobi and other parts of the country, technology transport companies are keeping a close eye on developments, eager to capitalise on the opportunity to roll out mass transport solutions.

Authorities are hopeful over 900 BRT high capacity buses will help solve challenges within the public transport sector.

At the same time technology transport companies are readying to introduce solutions and apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analysis to processes and procedures involved in decision-making that affects mass transport.

Nairobi-based tech transport firm Data Integrated plans to introduce digital payments and scheduling based on AI and IOT.

"It is super important to use technology and data collection to help in planning and scheduling since we are using facts and real time data," said Mary Mwangi, chief executive officer at Data Integrated.

"City planners have not used technology and data in traffic and transport management because it seems not to be a priority at the moment and somehow change is difficult too," said Mwangi, referring to the time and effort required in collecting the data.

Data Integrated is working with several bus companies to launch bus scheduling and digital ticketing services in the first and second quarter of this year respectively.

The company is also piloting a payment system that incorporates smart cameras to calculate the volume of passengers and thereby help bus owners plan trips ahead of schedule.

Egypt-based bus reservation firm Swvl is also piloting its bus scheduling services in Nairobi following its successful launch in Cairo in 2017. The company has received US$38.5 million in investments to date and has already launched five routes where users can book a space in its buses using its app.

Safaricom-backed taxi hailing app LittleCab is in the process of launching a mini bus transport service, named Little Shuttle, while Uber is reportedly running a bus transport pilot in Egypt, with plans in the pipeline for Nairobi.

National Transport and Safety Association is supporting some of the projects.