Smart Mobility

Smart Mobility in Tomorrow’s Smart Cities

Smart mobility is a general term for new technologies that are transforming city travel. These include new forms of transport like route optimization software, autonomous vehicles, systems that facilitate easier ordering and sharing of transport, physical infrastructure like the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and smart traffic signals, and big data systems that help analyze and optimize mobility flows.

In this article you'll learn about:

What Is Smart Mobility?

Smart mobility is the integration of different modes of transportation and infrastructure to make traveling safer, cleaner, and more efficient. It can also reduce the use of gasoline-powered vehicles. Smart mobility uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to facilitate communication between modes of transportation and user interfaces, via a wireless network.

Smart mobility encompasses many elements, including traffic-reducing measures like ride-sharing and bike-sharing; wireless communications, real-time data analytics, and machine learning used in autonomous vehicles; and physical infrastructures like parking spaces and traffic signals. Cities use sensors, data platforms, and software to manage their transport infrastructure and services as a single, coordinated system.

What Are the Benefits of Smart Mobility?

Smart mobility lets users choose transportation options to minimize commuting time, limit the effects of congestion, and increase safety. The following are examples of how smart mobility optimizes transportation:

  • Reduced fatalities: Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) warn drivers of potential hazards and provide safety measures. They use warning signals to highlight objects in the driver’s blind spot and can brake automatically in an emergency. Smart cars use Vehicle to Everything (V2X) technology to call an ambulance when a crash occurs. The ambulance can signal to other cars to make way, while traffic lights automatically change to allow the ambulance to pass.
  • Decreased traffic congestion: Autonomous vehicles might not decrease the number of cars on the road, but they could reduce congestion in other ways. For example, platooning, or coordinating the speed of vehicles, can limit the effects of human error like stop-and-start driving. If all vehicles communicate and travel consistently, this could eliminate “phantom traffic,” the cumulative effect of drivers waiting for each other to move before accelerating. Additionally, congestion pricing uses real-time traffic data to impose a pricing structure at peak traffic times, prioritizing high-occupancy vehicles.
  • Improved economy: By reducing congestion, smart mobility can save billions of dollars in fuel costs and productivity. In one year, Americans waste 3 billion gallons of fuel sitting in traffic, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the annual cost of traffic accidents at $299.5 billion. Eliminating the need for drivers could save time and money; for example, people can work while on the road.
  • Decreased pollution: Existing mobility systems are the main contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in cities. Clean technology is one of the principles of smart mobility and can significantly reduce emissions. The aim is to replace polluting vehicles with zero-emission modes of transportation.

How Is Smart Mobility Connected to Smart Cities?

There cannot be a smart city without smart mobility. Building more roadways is not a solution to bottlenecks and congestion. By integrating automation and smart connectivity into existing infrastructure, cities can completely reshape their transport system. 

Smart mobility requires the support of authorities. Cities can prioritize initiatives and incorporate them into their urban planning. They can use real-time data to provide traffic forecasts and to help commuters better plan their routes. For example, Columbus, Ohio, selected in 2015 as America’s smartest city, collects traffic data to identify and address potential safety issues before they materialize.

The Elements of Smart Mobility Solutions

Smart mobility involves transport methods that can help reduce the number of cars on the road:

  • Ridesharing: Can help reduce congestion by limiting the addition of new vehicles on the road.
  • Bicycle commuting: Increasingly popular in cities with flat terrain and an extensive network of bike lanes, especially in Europe. Cycling can be the fastest way to travel short distances.
  • Car sharing: Individuals or businesses rent cars by the minute or hour. The car sharing company owns and insures the cars and provides parking spaces at convenient locations around town.
  • On-demand transportation: Services that allow ordinary drivers to use their own cars to offer transportation services, employing mobile apps and GPS technologies to optimize rides and make services more accessible.

What Does Smart Mobility Look Like in the Real World?

Smart mobility can be incorporated into new smart city projects or retrofitted into old cities. European towns that have no room for new transport infrastructure have implemented smart mobility solutions to reduce car traffic. A few examples include:

  • Viu Bicing in Barcelona: A bike-sharing system estimated to save 2.5 million euros annually. An annual subscription costs €47. Users swipe a plastic card to rent a bike from racks located throughout the city.
  • Big Data in Amsterdam: A decade-long data-driven initiative integrating data about Amsterdam residents from 12,000 databases in 32 city departments. The initiative resulted in 100 pilot projects, for example, a truck to collect both waste and recyclables, reducing the number of garbage trucks on the road.
  • Helsinki smart mobility: The city aims to eliminate the need for car ownership by 2025. It provides an on-demand mobility system that calculates the fastest or cheapest way for commuters to reach their destination. Users can select public or private transport options via a mobile app, including ride-sharing, automated cars, on-demand buses, and transport for children. Helsinki residents will be able to access the waterfronts and nearby islands using BOUT, an on-demand boat ride platform launched in October 2018.
  • Songdo Business District in Incheon, South Korea: Built on 1,500 acres of reclaimed land, the city aims to be environmentally friendly and attract international business. Designed for 300,000 residents, Songdo is bike-friendly, car-free, and contains over 100 buildings with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. A subway connects it to the Seoul and Incheon transportation systems. When completed, all residents will be within a 12-minute walk of a bus stop.

Smart Mobility: A Win-Win for Everyone

While smart mobility includes many futuristic mobility technologiesby and large, its focus is the reorganization of existing transportation methods. Cars, bicycles, buses, and trains are nothing new, but with smart mobility technology, they increase their efficiency and can become more than the sum of their parts. 

Adding smart mobility to cities and encouraging its adoption is a smart investment that will benefit everyone—from commuters and travelers, who enjoy better and faster intra-city transport, to communities and cities who can reduce congestion, improve air quality and boost the quality of life without major investments in infrastructure, to businesses and transport providers who can offer better, more effective and more profitable services. 

The biggest winner is the environment—as smart mobility sweeps the globe it can dramatically reduce emission levels and contribute to a sustainable global transport system.

Learn More About Smart Mobility

There’s a lot more to learn about smart mobility. To continue your research, take a look at the rest of our learn articles, research, and blogs on this topic:

Creating The Next Killer Mobility App

Consumers are turning to mobile devices to help them plan, navigate, and coordinate trips. A growing ecosystem of apps are stepping in, leveraging the broad availability of intelligent transport systems, wireless internet, global navigation systems, and cloud technologies. This article reviews 5 types of applications taking mobility forward and provides 5 tips that will help you effectively build mobility into your app.

Read more: Creating the Next Killer Mobility App

The Ride-Hailing Phenomenon: Under The Hood

With ride-hailing, users can book rides in advance, choose their preferences, and provide feedback by rating their experience. Ride-hailing apps efficiently match customers with routes so that drivers can pick up riders more frequently with a combination of user-friendly features and scheduling software

Read more: The Ride-Hailing Phenomenon: Under the Hood

Shared Transport: Moving Towards A Common Goal

Shared transport refers to an on-demand vehicle-sharing approach where travelers share a vehicle, either at the same time or overtime. In this arrangement, travelers share the cost of their journey, using a combination of public transportation and private vehicle use. Shared transport has developed dramatically in recent years, as concerns for the environment, energy, and the economy increase. 

Read more: Shared Transport: Moving Towards a Common Goal

Mobility Technology: A Diary Of Global Deployment

Mobility technology is the next stage in the evolution of transportation. It has the ability to transform entire societies, make cities “smarter,” increase productivity, and boost the economy at whole. This article explains how mobility technology, such as autonomous vehicles, delivery robots, and drones, are being deployed around the globe and affecting cities everywhere.

Read more: Mobility Technology: A Diary of Global Deployment

On-Demand Mobility: Consumer And Business Perspectives

On-demand mobility provides users with on-demand access to mobility services and goods. On-demand mobility uses shared mobility, public transportation solutions, and delivery services via a connected and integrated network. It combines real-time information, trip planning, booking, and payment into a user interface. This article explains why on-demand mobility is capturing the attention of individuals, businesses, and governments, and how it will transform communities and cities.

Read more: On-Demand Mobility: Consumer and Business Perspectives

An Introduction to Demand Responsive Transport

Demand responsive transport is a solution that combines both public and private transportation services to provide an experience similar to an on-demand mobility service. Passengers use a mobile app to register their request for a car service. The application uses algorithms to match their requests with vehicles riding in the same direction. Drivers are then directed according to the pick-up and drop-off information collected by the app from passenger requests. 

Read more: An Introduction to Demand Responsive Transport

20 Mobility Stats That Will Blow Your Mind

This article is a collection of mobility stats from industry thought leaders reflecting the rise of mobility technologies and trends such as car and bike-sharing as well as ride-hailing services.

Read more: 20 Mobility Stats That Will Blow Your Mind

How Smart Transportation Solves Urban Mobility Problems

Cities around the world are implementing smart technologies to improve quality of life. One of the main concerns for smart cities is mobility because traffic congestion and pollution are some of the biggest challenges they face. This article reviews the key transportation challenges facing modern cities, and how disruptive smart city technology is helping to solve them.

Read more: How Smart Transportation Solves Urban Mobility Problems

Multimodal Transportation: The Future of Urban Mobility

Multimodal transportation refers to the way people travel by different means of transport, including cars, bikes, buses, subways, and micromobility services such as electric scooters. 

Read more: Multimodal Transportation: The Future of Urban Mobility

5 Ways Mobile Payments Are Changing Public Transport

Mobile payments are becoming commonplace and are making public transport more convenient. However, they are not just a convenience; mobile payments can have a major impact on the evolution of public transport. For example, promoting cooperation between public and private transport services, allowing social services to support weaker populations, and reducing paper ticket waste.

Read more: 5 Ways Mobile Payments are Changing Public Transport

    See Our Additional Guides on Key Mobility Topics:

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