Smart mobility - Infrastructure for our "Connected Future"
Smart mobility is reshaping the transport sector, shaking up and challenging traditional transportation models.
Countries with clear government support and efficient regulatory upgrades are leading the way. The smart city initiative of Dubai is aiming to implement self-driving taxis, and Abu Dhabi expects to have up to 5km of a hyperloop project – linking it to neighbouring Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport – ready for operation by 2020. Scotland is trialling self-driving buses and Finland’s fully revised transport legislation is especially supportive of innovation and the use of new technology.
Fully autonomous vehicles will require vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems, meaning 4G and 5G networks beyond cities will need significant investment. Existing infrastructure will need to be retrofitted with the necessary technology. This is all likely to require participation from private funders, opening up new investment opportunities and providing new revenue streams.
Mobility is increasingly more important than ownership; the public appetite for personalised services continues to grow fuelling the rise of Mobility-as-a-Service. Ride-hailing and ride-sharing apps are challenging the established model of state-provided public transport and throwing up important considerations for governments.
City centres are likely to change dramatically, with a reduced need for multiple multi-storey car parks as people move from car ownership to mobility services. Drone deliveries may reduce vans on roads but growing demand for instant and personalised transport may in fact increase congestion. State intervention will almost certainly be required to push people to more sustainable forms of transport, ensure that more vulnerable members of society are not left behind, and incentivise healthier travel.
Simultaneously the railway industry is boosting digitisation of signalling, payments and ticketing - anticipated to improve performance and revenues, as well as providing deeper insight into travel patterns - and shipping companies are turning to blockchain for increased security and ease of contracting.
The possibilities and implications are wide-ranging.