One topic that always generates a lot of interest among city and municipal leaders is technology and how to use it to gain the best benefit. Too often a new system or technology is purchased, implemented, and within 24 months it’s already out of date. Unfortunately, when applications or devices are designed to be siloed or stand-alone, there is no way to update or retroactively upgrade them without utilizing a very manual process. For that reason, many managers are actively seeking to “future proof” their technology purchases.
Without an official definition of “future proof” many purchasing managers are confused about what that term actually entails. Let’s take a look at what it means to future proof your transportation technology.
The Essence of Future Proofing
In order for a device or technology to be considered “future proof” it must be capable of handling applications and functions that have not been thought of or developed yet. But how is that possible? Many purchasing managers and IT departments might question how a device can handle a request that has not yet been conceived, but this is the essence of future proofing. There are three core components that make a technology future proof. They include: connectivity, over-the-air updates, and security.
The first key to future proofing your technology is for the device to be connected to the internet. In the past, connectivity meant expensive, hard-wired networks using fiber or cable. These hard-wired connections were very labor intensive and were costly to maintain. The shift toward future proofing has brought about a big move to cellular-based systems, which rely on a simple cellular modem and operate much like a cell phone. The easily accessible, cloud-based technology coupled with a GPS system allows the device to receive and report a tremendous amount of information.
2. Over-the-Air Updates
The second key to future proofing technology involves the ability to provide over-the-air software updates to the device. Initially, this may seem like an extension of the connectivity, but the ability to update software remotely is what makes this a very distinct and unique feature. This method of updating simplifies software upgrades, bug fixes, and allows for the easy addition of new features and functionality.
A third, but often overlooked, requirement for future proofing is security. The increased ability to access the device presents its own security challenges which need to be addressed prior to purchasing a system. Historically, most transportation technology deployments relied on complexity to secure the system, but as technology becomes web-based, security factors have to be looked at from a different perspective.
Future proof systems require HTTPS security of the data and should leverage the security enhancements established by the banking sector and cellular providers, such as AT&T. Electronic locks, instead of keys, on physical equipment are also a simple and smart way to increase security.
Plan today for tomorrow
There is no question that future proofing is the direction in which transportation technology applications are moving. By incorporating these three principals into the system you purchase today, you can protect it tomorrow. Taking the time to find systems that meet these requirements could prevent the need to purchase new equipment, help your city be more nimble, and deliver more value to your residents.