Urban mobility and what drives it

Updated: Nov 25, 2016 11:14 AM

Urbanisation is increasing speed by placing new, strong pressures on city resources and infrastructure.

It has become increasingly clear that a connected, compact urban development makes both financial and environmental sense. Urbanisation is increasing speed by placing new, strong pressures on city resources and infrastructure. According to sources, by 2030, India will witness history’s largest human migration (~600 Million) with 41% of the population settling in urban areas. Traditionally, mobility has been looked at as a product that includes transportation and infrastructure required to move people around. Increasingly though, mobility is approached as a service.

Urban Mobility will be one of the hardest challenges for areas around the globe. In a lot of cities, prevailing mobility systems are insufficient, yet urbanisation and increasing populations continue to increase its demand. Usually, cities have required to solve such challenges by adding new capacity to match demand. Many innovative mobility solutions are evolving, which can leverage technology to improve service provision and manage demand. Cities and experts are of the opinion that mobility gave rise for a hope to transform city operations. There is a strong need to invest in infrastructure that will serve long term needs and treat mobility as a wand that will improve the country’s economic, social and environmental conditions. Lessons learnt from the development of successful global smart cities indicate that designing complex urban mobility networks with efficient connectivity between various modes of transport will be the main challenge. A holistic response to urban mobility optimises both supply and demand solutions to facilitate more sustainable outcomes.

As a critical element in the holistic development of a nation, Urban Mobility cannot be underestimated. Going by the present trends, the demand for real-time information, in a range of formats, to a variety of devices across various features such as preventive maintenance, vehicle health management systems, vehicle safety & security is bound to increase many folds.

Mega trends are driving the need for connected devices, integrated systems and services across all the areas and this is how it could look like for Urban Mobility in India in the next 5-10 years:

31% of India lives in urban areas and contributes to 63% of GDP. This will increase to 40% live in cities and contribute to 75% of the GDP by 2030. This is huge and thanks to the government of India for recognizing the technology needs to cope up with this scale and driving 100 smart cities program in addition to many other initiatives. From Urban mobility perspective, poor fleet, traffic, parking space management results in additional traffic and parking space search alone amounts to 30% of the traffic in the cities. The road condition and traffic issues results in 2.8 million hospitalization due to accidents. Beyond the infrastructure development like roads, public transport and parking spaces, this also dives the technology need for integration of devices, systems and services on a scalable plug and play technology platform to optimize the performance, add services and create revenue models to meet capital investment and sustainable operations.

The initial feature set could look like the following:

* Track the location of every public transport like metro/bus and also the occupancy for the transport management to add, remove or replace a service.
* Inform the commuters about the expected time of arrival of the metro/bus at a specific location. Most needed from commuters’ point of view.
* Track the vehicle health and driver behaviour for preventive maintenance, fuel efficiency and better commuter experience.
* Parking space availability/special offers information with guidance to exact parking slot. Aggregation of all the parking spaces in a city and mobile app based booking and payment also could be planned in the initial feature set itself.
* Shared car services for the last mile commute and off-course an integrated payment across all transport services.
* Automated vehicle identification, number pate detection, e-tolling, traffic density monitoring, electronic display based traffic diverting, traffic violation detections and e-penalty ticketing to ease the traffic flow.
* Mobile based crowd sourcing on road and traffic conditions also could be planned in the initial feature set itself which could help the authorities to focus on top priority issues.

Investment and Revenue: From the capital investment and operations prospective, it may not be fair to expect the government or citizens to bear the heavy burden of it. The best scenario would be like most of the funds for the technology implementation and operational expenses are generated through efficiency improvements and additional revenue generation. It would be possible to achieve 25-30% cost saving through enhanced efficiency and effectiveness of the existing services and could also expect additional revenues from increased riders, reduced pilferage of toll/parking fee/penalty ticket collections. Advertisements on the digital information displays at metro stations, bus stops and mobile applications could also bring additional revenue.

Next steps: Agree that many of the features discussed here are not implemented in many of the developed world yet but the Indian context and trends are also not very comparable with them. This is the time to help the central and state governments, respective ministries and corporations to prioritize the requirements, investments, revenue models and also the organizations start building a robust and scalable technology platform to realize it. Looks like it is a great opportunity for individuals as well as organizations to participate and contribute in this nation building exercise.

By Suresh Kumar KK
General Manager, IoT and Smart Cities, Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions

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