Transportation leaders unleashing the future of safe, sustainable mobility invest in intelligent, autonomous networks, and ubiquitous collaboration platforms
Mobility infrastructure and services, in cities and beyond, need to be reimagined. They need to enable people to get to work, to go to school, to shop — conveniently and safely — and to enjoy their communities. They need to enable businesses to connect with customers and partners efficiently and environmentally sustainably. Transportation operators need to work with national, regional, and local authorities, transportation policymakers, insurance companies, retailers, utilities, and many other actors across the mobility ecosystem to overcome the old car-centric paradigm of mobility. This paradigm empowered individuals and societies for over a century, but created negative externalities1 such as congestion, traffic accidents, pollution, and affordability and accessibility issues. It also clogged cities with cars that occupy precious curbside space that could otherwise be used for pickup, deliveries, and bike and pedestrian lanes.
Technology innovation such as connected-autonomous-electric vehicles, smart roads, IoT, edge computing, and artificial intelligence will enable transportation operators to successfully embrace new business models and citizens to realize the benefit of the future of mobility in their daily lives.
A Day in the Future Life of a Commuter
It's a sunny day, after a stormy night. Caroline enjoys the fresh air while cycling to the train station. She has an important meeting that she cannot miss. She wants to catch an early train because her personal mobility digital assistant has alerted her of possible delays on the suburban rail line that she takes when commuting from her home to the town center. Her digital assistant has already pre-booked the tickets, all the way, including for the subway that connects the downtown train station and the office. When she boards the train, her digital assistant recommends she looks for a seat in the first car, at the front of the train, because it's less busy. This is one of the services that was launched during the now-long-forgotten COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure social distancing, that many passengers still find useful if they want to find a quieter seat to read or catch up on work. The train is on time, and Caroline is ahead of schedule. Her digital assistant knows this. It sends her a notification for a 10% breakfast discount voucher as she walks by her favorite cafe. After enjoying her espresso, Caroline takes the stairs down to the subway station. Contactless ticketing ensures that she can whisk right through the subway gates. She gets to the office in time for a very fruitful meeting. In the evening, Caroline is less pressed for time. Her digital assistant books an escooter to take her back to the downtown station.
A Day in the Future Life of a Railway Control Center Operator
Khalid is working the early morning shift at the national railway operation control center. He manages the team that oversees the suburban commuter rail lines around a major metro area. It's 6 a.m. when an automated alert for environmental risks shows up on the big screen. By sifting through gigabytes of video uploaded from night trains operating on the line, the artificial intelligence system has detected a big tree branch that is at risk of falling onto the tracks. Khalid's team immediately triggers a work order to dispatch the environmental maintenance crew to cut the branch down. He communicates via videoconferencing with the maintenance team to explain the situation to them in detail and share the video of the branch. He communicates with the customer service team to make sure they can create a customer service alert for possible delays to be shared via APIs with all journey planning and mobility-as-a-service providers. Khalid also communicates with his colleagues at the local public transit agency to let them know of possible delays, which might mean shifting passenger loads to the subway. Finally, signals are sent in real time to all trains traveling on the line to slow down or stop, so that both trains and the maintenance crew can operate safely. Within an hour the branch has been cut down. Signals can be sent to the trains to operate at regular speed and all other services are notified of the return to normal operations. Had the branch fallen, the risk of an accident and the cost of removing it would have been much higher, and the railway provider's reputation for punctual service would have been damaged.
The Foundational Technology Pillars of the Future of Mobility
Forward-looking transportation operators such as RATP, the Nevada Department of Transportation, and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority that want to explore the art of the possible of connected and autonomous driving2, mobility as a service3, and overall technology-enabled business innovation4 to unleash the future of accessible, community friendly, safe, sustainable, and convenient mobility must invest in two foundational pillars to:
• Migrate from proprietary to digital age, fixed and wireless, intelligent, and autonomous networks that can securely connect signaling, passenger information systems, smart ticketing, and the growing number of IoT sensors embedded in infrastructure and vehicles.
• Deploy ubiquitous communication and collaboration platforms that embed APIs into existing processes, business applications, and customer portals, enabling passengers and staff interactions in real time through digital engagement, personalization, and services automation.
Transportation executives that take the long-term view to drive these investments will enable their organizations to make customers happy and loyal; increase efficiency, environmental sustainability, and resilience of operations; and improve the productivity and well-being of employees.
Not all will be able to do this, but all the ones who aim to design and co-create the future of smart transportation 4.0 already have.