People In Motion

Mobility is the central issue for tomorrow’s cities. Without mobility, economic growth and political life become impossible. We need to break with existing networks and move towards communication and transportation systems designed around the individual user.

The world is urbanising at a rapid rate. More people live in urban areas than rural areas and this figure will increase to 75% by 2035. A study I directed for Siemens in 2006 called “Megacity Challenges” showed that all cities are on the same development path. Initially we researched 25 megacities but we have now studied over 60 cities and found that this remains true for all 60 cities. This development pathway crosses geographic and cultural boundaries.

End state – Complete Mobility

All cities are being driven by economic competitiveness and, in this context, see the provision of good mobility systems as the number one issue. The global trends of, for example, suburbanisation, motorisation, ageing population, personalisation and complexity of lifestyle, can all be seen to be an increasing as cities proceed up the development curve. The end-state of this process for mobility is Complete Mobility, where the future city mobility system is end-user focused, seamless and valued.

This has fundamental implications for the way we plan, design and deliver our mobility systems in the future. It turns current practice on its head. At present the provision of our mobility systems is based on separate, mode-based processes which are operationally based, not user based. This will have to change for two reasons – the pressures of global and information and communications technology (ICT) trends and the emergence of a large new market in personalised mobility management.

User focussed mobility systems

The global trends of personalisation, increasing complexity of lifestyle, greater participation in the workforce and the increasing need for value will demand a much more user focussed mobility system which is one system and offers value. When this is combined with what is happening in the world of ICT then Complete Mobility becomes a reality. If anyone doubts this, one just has to read the business plans of all the major ICT providers around the world and the media on a daily basis featuring new applications on smart phones and smart cards.

If we are to aim for Complete Mobility, which is user focussed, seamless, ie one system, and valued by the user then we need a new business model – a mobility management business that integrates the individual mobility systems and offers personal mobility plans to users. These could vary from basic to complex packages depending on price and value. The system would be able to manage users’ mobility needs in real time, alerting the user to changes in the system and offering mobility choices, some at a premium. This offers very significant new revenue streams through for example stored value on accounts, advertising, and the sale of value added services across a range of services, such as shopping and security services.

Complete Mobility is the future for mobility in cities because it satisfies future users’ needs, helps to balance economic growth with the need for increased mobility and generates new funding streams to help deliver the mobility that is required. In other words it’s good for users, business and cities alike – and that means it will be politically attractive and can be delivered.

Read more in this debate: Saskia Sassen, Ross von Burg, Lee Stuart.

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