Written by Ian Bearder

On 12 August 2012 the world watched as 600000 lights illuminated London’s Olympic stadium to mark the end of the 2012 Olympic Games.  Standing on stage in front of 80000 spectators and a global TV audience – Rio de Janeiro’s mayor Eduardo Paes accepted the Olympic flag on behalf of his country and as he did so he introduced Brazil to the world as hosts of the 2016 games. Two years earlier South American football fans celebrated news that Brazil would host the 2014 World Cup.

As hosts of two of the world’s largest tournaments Brazil will be thrust into the international limelight over the next four years and has the opportunity to shine as a one of the world’s leading nations and the accompanying boost in visitor numbers and foreign investment offers Brazil the perfect opportunity to rebuild and modernise its infrastructure and transport network.  In fact if the games are to be a success – there may be no other choice.

Brazil is a large country which has an estimated 1.7 million km of roads approximately 50000 km of inland waterways and a 30000 km rail network however as home to nearly 200 million people and two of the world’s largest cities (Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo) Brazil is no strangers to congestion.  More than 21 million people live in Sao Paulo alone and in a single day in 2009 293 kilometres of traffic are said to have clogged the city’s streets.

Brazil’s place on the BRIC list of emerging economic powers adds additional pressure. According to a 2010 report for The Economist Brazil ranked fourth in terms of new vehicle registration which had boomed by an enormous 120%! This took place with a population growth of just 11%.

Introducing Intelligent Transport

To cope with this and a swell in cargo traffic Brazilian authorities and city planners will need to beincredibly creative if they want to keep the country’s goods people and economy moving  when hundreds of thousands of sports fans descend on their cities.

This offers a huge opportunity for the ITS industry and this is a fact that hasn’t been missed by Brazil’s international partners such as the USA and the EU. In March 2011 the US and Brazil signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ to support the organisation of major global sporting events and in April the same year the US Commercial Service presented a report on ‘Opportunities for US companies in the Brazilian ITS Market’.  Meanwhile the EU has been developing joint transport projects in Brazil as part of its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).  One of these Viajeo has promoted EU-Brazil cooperation on sustainable transport in partnership with the Brazilian Bureau for Enhancing International Cooperation with the European Union (BB.Bice).

A Viajeo seminar held in April 2011 in São Paulo focused on ITS for large events and electric mobility and João Fernando Gomes de Oliveira president of Brazil’s Institute for Technological Research (IPT) talked-up the business opportunities that arise from the sporting events. Another EU funded project ‘STADIUM’ may also prove useful. The project is working to improve the performance of transport services and systems during large events by examining the use of ITS applications during three major tournaments; the South African World Cup (2010) the Commonwealth Games (2010) and the London Olympics (2012).  Researchers involved in the project are developing an online ITS handbook to support those responsible for organising large scale events and the guide which is due to be finished in 2013 covers areas such as planning and impact evaluation and reviews of proven ITS systems. It also provides a list of ITS suppliers.

Brazil will also be able to draw on its own ITS experience.

According to Alessandro Santiago dos Santos of Brazil’s Institute for Technological Research (IPT) ITS in Brazil is not as well developed as it is in Europe but progress is being made.

“Intelligent Transport Systems are not at the forefront of thinking for public managers and decision makers” he says “but the country already has considerable ITS experience in both highway management and public transport.”

“Brazil began its road concessions programme in 1998 with the transfer of the operational administration and maintenance of highways to private companies under the supervision of a state-owned company. In concession contracts the use of ITS is mandatory and critical to maintaining the quality of services for citizens and cargo”.

With regards to public transport he says that electronic ticketing systems have played a leading role; “Ticketing in Brazil is characterised by the predominance of contactless card solutions. Furthermore over 77% of cities with more than 50000 inhabitants have electronic ticketing mechanisms. The introduction of automation and the remarkable growth in the collection of fares was driven by the need to control benefits (discounts or exemptions) which currently amount to more than half of the users in most of the cities”.

He says the industry will also benefit from a new law that requires all cities with over 200 thousand inhabitants to develop a “plan for urban mobility” which must be integrated and compatible with their master plans of the city. In addition to this a ‘Sustainable Brazil’ initiative has promised to invest $ 2 billion in the development of innovative products processes and services linked to the concept of sustainability.

No time to lose

How authorities meet these challenges and the final strategy used to develop Brazil’s transport network and manage the games remains to be seen yet work is already well underway. Eleven new Operational Control Centres are being built in the World Cup host cities and they will integrate the management of traffic with the operation of public transport the emergency services and public security services.

Nine of the twelve World Cup host cities are also building Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes and in four cities including São Paulo and Brasília the government is financing light rail systems such as monorails and trams.  In 2011 São Paulo State’s Secretary for metropolitan transport predicted that by 2013 twelve rail lines would be under construction in his city and promised that the subway network would have grown by 80 km by 2014. “We are moving at Chinese speed” he said.

If this is true and if Brazil’s new transport systems are a success then the games could offer a real vision for the future of movement. As Angel Landabaso the Science and Technology Counsellor of the European Commission in Brazil once noted: “If we find a solution for São Paulo which is top on the world’s cities’ list on transports’ problems we will find a solution for the whole world”.

About CONTRAN 245

Brazil’s CONTRAN 245 resolution requires all new vehicles—trucks cars and motorcycles—to be fitted with an antitheft tracking device.  The legislation which aims to tackle vehicle theft and reduce sky-high insurance costs was almost dropped because of privacy concerns. However as the law is implemented Brazil is set to become a huge ITS market with many suppliers exploring ways to deliver additional location-based services. 

Link to original Article


Original Publication Date: Fri 14 Dec 2012