AWS Public Sector Blog

Transporting people and freight more efficiently with cloud-based technologies

While municipalities face diminished tax and tolling revenue as riders stay home, shop-at-home has become the new norm, leading to an increase in freight on the roads. However, freight transportation companies and logistics service providers are being challenged by spikes in e-commerce volume, which consumes considerable amounts of information technology (IT) resources. The need for real-time, dynamic re-adjustment of global supply chains has shortened planning cycles from weeks to hours, and requires faster IT workloads, quicker access to data, increased ability to innovate, and nimbler DevOps cycles.

The existing IT systems that support the transportation sector are evolving to meet these changes. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and cloud technologies can help by bringing cost-effectiveness, scalability, elasticity, and agility to freight and people transportation systems.

Tapping into data for advanced insights

A large, increasing, mostly untapped volume of data exists that can be leveraged by transportation and freight IT systems to improve functionality, improve security, and reduce costs. The volume of transportation data has increased, boosted by autonomous and connected vehicles, and an increase in Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as roadside sensors, imaging and video systems, and commuter cell phone GPS. Advanced information systems that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology can improve road safety, convenience, and the overall driver experience. Examples of these AI and ML applications include smart intersections, real-time analysis of traffic density, connected and autonomous vehicles, and real-time insights in shipment delivery.

Aramex, a global provider of logistics and transportation solutions, engaged AWS Partner Inawisdom to support their digital transformation in digitizing the end-to-end shipment journey. Inawisdom helped Aramex deploy a solution to provide a real-time picture of live transit operations and give Aramex’s customers accurate, instant delivery information. “We have seen a 74% increase in the accuracy of our transit time predictions because of the machine learning models we developed on AWS with Inawisdom,” said Mohammed Sleeq, chief digital officer at Aramex. Learn more about how Aramex innovated their shipping solutions with AWS here.

Building IT systems that are elastic

Across global supply chains, the increasing movement of cross-border freight and parcel forces logistic service providers to cope with longer, higher peaks of IT resources utilization, requiring levels of elasticity and scalability that is challenging for on-premises infrastructures to meet. A cloud-based operation can reduce the amount of roadside infrastructure for tolling systems while the elasticity of the cloud provides automatic scaling up and down as needed to meet higher demand.

Wildly varied peaks and valleys in delivery logistics demand are part and parcel of food delivery. Founded in 2013, Deliveroo works with more than 80,000 restaurants, delivering meals in over 500 cities across Europe and Asia. AWS’s scalable infrastructure helps Deliveroo meet the fluctuating demands of delivering food in 12 markets worldwide, while ML and data analytics services provide the intelligence to manage delivery logistics and more.

Deliveroo’s demand fluctuates, with order volumes spiking at meal times, as well as on holidays or special events, Demand can increase by by up to 400%—and because Deliveroo operates in multiple countries, these peaks are daily and sometimes overlapping across regions. Deliveroo turned to AWS to build a scalable, elastic solution to meet this varying demand and also saw a 56% reduction in compute and database costs. With AWS, Deliveroo also built a more efficient food delivery dispatch solution to allow drivers to deliver more orders per hour, a metric tied to driver satisfaction to maintain driver loyalty. With AWS ML, Deliveroo uses algorithms built with Amazon SageMaker to create a robust system that can predict meal prep times, driver pickup and delivery times, and even predict future order volume to maximize the driver experience. Learn more about Deliveroo’s digital transformation with AWS here.

Innovating and building next generation systems to better serve constituents

Chronic under-investment into more advanced IT technologies has prevented the majority of transportation companies from keeping up with innovation. Most transportation information systems are monolithic, with each customer having their own deployment running on their own hardware in their own data center. To date, very few transportation companies have embraced a journey to refactor applications into multi-tenant, serverless environments hosted in the cloud.

However, those who have, like Elizabeth River Crossings, are able to serve their customers with greater efficiency. Elizabeth River Crossings uses Cognizant’s Digital Tolling Solution, which leverages advanced artificial intelligence (AI), self-service, and cognitive capabilities to deliver omnichannel customer service built on a modern, secure microservices architecture in the AWS Cloud. The Digital Tolling Solution also provides an accurate 360-degree view on any toll transaction at any given point of time by providing comprehensive, real-time information, including customer information, vehicle details, payment behavior, and payment patterns. This end-to-end real-time visibility empowers toll operators to eliminate inefficiencies and redundancies, identify what actions should be taken and when, and ultimately, better serve customers.

Reducing maintenance costs and total cost of ownership (TCO)

Once in place, transportation information systems typically remain in operation for five to ten years. In-house development allows these workloads to be highly customized to the customer needs, however, these types of systems come with the burden of infrastructure administration and on-going application maintenance. With a cloud-based service, there is no undifferentiated heavy-lifting of maintaining servers, networking equipment, procurement expenses, electricity, maintenance, redundant (back-up) systems, and, every few years, hardware upgrade, so agencies can focus their resources on their core missions.

Overall, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of cloud-based infrastructure is substantially lower than the same infrastructure on-premise. For many transportation companies, the average TCO of their IT infrastructures is 50 percent cheaper once they migrated to a cloud provider, like the AWS Cloud, from their original on-premise environment. The California DMV is in the process of migrating the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) application to the cloud, and expects its three-year savings to be near $1 million. Likewise, moving to the AWS Cloud helped Elizabeth River Crossings avoid a $500k infrastructure refresh with $200k in annual maintenance.

Additionally, the burden of on-premises administration can slow down the pace of innovation and tie up valuable resources, instead of focusing on innovation.

Learn more in the full whitepaper, “Transporting People and Freight More Efficiently with Cloud-based Technologies,” which explains how the creation of new transportation information systems or the refactoring of existing systems to make use of cloud-native architectures, including server-less technology, provides improved elasticity, operational excellence, security, resilience, and reduced costs for the transportation and logistics industry. Read more stories about AWS for transportation.

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