How Mobility Can Help Cities Become More Sustainable And Innovative
Mobility is the backbone of a sustainable city. By fostering an ecosystem that encourages travel by foot, bicycle, or public transit, cities reduce greenhouse gas emissions and diminish the need to build out parking garages.
Smart mobility solutions are now being integrated into our cities by urban planners and designers to enable us to build more sustainable cities. Eco-friendly, innovative solutions are being implemented with some stunning results.
What Is a Smart Mobility Solution?
The term ‘smart mobility’ can be defined as the use of smart transportation technologies for well-designed cities and communities, where people are empowered to make informed decisions about their travel.
Smart mobility solutions turn cities into connected communities, using a combination of various technologies and sensors that are integrated into the fabric of urban infrastructure to provide efficient and safe mobility. These solutions are coming up with the use of new-age technologies like IoT (Internet of Things), AI (artificial intelligence), connected vehicles (e.g. GPS), connected pedestrians (e.g. wearable technology), connected cities, and connected communities.
The benefits of these solutions are numerous. They help in managing urban traffic, reducing congestion, reducing the need for car ownership, and ultimately making our cities more livable.
Efficient Transit for a Better Urban Environment
The transition to a more connected urban environment does not happen overnight. It is often a slow process, but one that ultimately creates a more efficient and sustainable urban environment. Connected transit is one of the building blocks of the connected city.
Many cities around the world are already making significant investments in their transit infrastructure. City planners are designing their urban landscapes to expand transportation networks with mass transit systems, open-data sharing programs for real-time updates or data on traffic conditions, and intelligent solutions that optimize routes and schedules based on historic data from ridership patterns.
7 Smart Mobility Examples for Urban Planners to Learn From
We don’t need to start from scratch when considering how to plan our urban spaces to be more transport efficient and sustainable. There are numerous smart mobility examples across the globe that we can copy. By investing our time and energy in the best of these, we can design our cities to be world leaders. Here are seven such examples.
Singapore ─ E3A
Singapore began its journey to being a truly smart city as long ago as 1998 when it introduced road pricing schemes to control traffic congestion. Since then, it has invested billions of dollars into the development of its transportation system. Its network of thousands of sensors helps to regulate traffic flow and preventative maintenance. It is also planning to utilize connected vehicles from 2022 and is prepared for the introduction of autonomous vehicles.
Singapore’s connectedness has helped to make it one of the least congested cities in the world, though it covers more than transport alone. Its E3A platform collects data across all aspects of life. Why E3A? Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, All the time.
London ─ The smart living lab
With the world’s oldest metro system, and being Europe’s most densely populated capital city, the need for smart mobility solutions is high in London.
Among its tactics, London is making the metro system smarter and providing thousands of miles of cycle paths to get people on their bikes. More than this, though, it has introduced the Smart Mobility Living Lab in London, delivering free Wi-Fi and 5G connectivity to track passenger and vehicle movements, saving motorists as much as 10% of time stuck in traffic. In financial terms, this would save London’s economy more than $1 billion each year.
Like Singapore, London is also focusing on managing traffic through connectivity, moving away from data collected by cameras and connected infrastructure.
Barcelona ─ In a CLASS of its own
Barcelona has been a pioneer in smart city thinking, helping to develop the CLASS program that takes the use of big data to a new level. The city uses sensors embedded in roads to help manage traffic, and is investing heavily in 5G technologies to deliver a transportation system fit for connected and autonomous vehicles.
Berlin – Sharing the burden of mobility
Berlin is taking a sharing attitude to its smart mobility planning. Like other cities, it has developed a network of sensors, and uses wireless tech to collect and collate data to intelligently manage traffic flows.
It has also instigated BeMobility ─ a project that encourages the use of electric vehicles, and e-carsharing by city residents and visitors.
Let’s move closer to home, now.
San Francisco ─ Parking greenhouse gases
San Francisco. The city of innovation. It too uses a system of sensors to help manage traffic flow, and is racing toward embedding autonomous vehicles into its mobility infrastructure. One of its most successful programs is the SFpark project. This uses sensors to observe the most densely parked areas, and adapts pricing of car park spaces to encourage parking in zones of lower occupation. The result? a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emission.
Boston ─ Commuting by kiosk
Boston has networked its traffic signaling, to optimize traffic flow around the city, but it also wants to encourage its citizens to get out of their cars and use public transport for their commutes. To this end, the city is installing Neighborhood Mobility microHUBS ─ digital kiosks that inform people about the best public transport options on demand ─ meaning less waiting and more efficient travel.
New York City ─ Where transport never sleeps
New York, the city that never sleeps. Also, the city was awarded the top spot on 2020’s IESE Cities in Motion Index.
NY City has invested billions in its smart mobility strategy. It has connected infrastructure, cameras and sensors across the city, and adaptive traffic signals at more than 10,000 intersections. It has developed a connected vehicle scheme, to help it collect traffic data, designed to improve traffic management and safety in real time.
Creating a Smarter Transport System with Smart Mobility Solutions
There are two main obstacles to the development of a smarter transport system. The first is the lack of data to track mobility, and the second is an inability for agencies to collaborate with each other.
Smart mobility solutions are designed to provide data on transportation habits, which can be used to create a better transport system. Notable examples of these solutions include GPS tracking, automated toll payments, real-time traffic updates and more.
Cities around the world are employing smart mobility technologies to make life easier and more enjoyable for residents, and to reduce pollution and traffic congestion. The examples we’ve highlighted here ─ including adaptive traffic management, intelligent systems for commuters, connected vehicles, EV sharing, and directed parking ─ are all systems that have been proven to be successful, and that cities should consider when planning their urban infrastructure.
At ACB Consulting, we are committed to helping improve the communities in which we live, work, and play – including how they are conceived, designed, and created. To learn more, contact ACB Consulting.