We often talk about the “future of mobility” without acknowledging how open-ended this phrase is and without a crystal ball, it is difficult to picture what it will look like in 15 never mind 50 years’ time. It is also dangerous to discuss the future of mobility as an end-point. We are likely to see continuous development in the mobility sector as the tech sector drives and supports innovation for mobility services. What we can be sure of about the future of mobility is that it will be a truly multi-modal, digitally-enabled, customer-focused ecosystem, incorporating fixed and flexible infrastructure, private and publicly operated services and a multitude of vehicles, some of which are beyond what we could imagine today.
There has been a flurry of activity from key policy decision-makers and influencers over the past 3 years in terms of moving forward with the future of mobility services agenda. We’ve seen:
· the establishment of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles in 2015
· the Industrial Strategy from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2017 and recognition of future of mobility as a grand challenge
· the Transforming Infrastructure Performance report from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) which indicates an increase in transport infrastructure investment
· the National Infrastructure Commission’s report Data for the Public Good
· Highways England £6 billion Smart Motorway Alliance which announces a new approach to contractual agreements that focuses on delivery and performance.
· the Automotive Sector Deal
To build on this, we are seeing a wide variety of non-traditional sector actors develop technological solutions that will underpin and facilitate crucial aspects of mobility services in the future. These solutions are increasingly mature and in use in real-life deployments around the globe. The tech sector stands ready to support mobility service providers and procurers to deliver high-quality, seamless and connected services to the citizens of the UK.
Whilst the main barriers to future mobility services are not technical nor a result of a lack of ambition, there are still impediments to implementation. Overcoming this starts with developing a high-level strategic approach to the development and delivery of future mobility services. The UK needs a vision, albeit flexible, that identifies key characteristics of what the future of mobility services will entail. Having a vision will provide policy-makers, decision-makers, service providers and innovators with clarity and a sense of prioritisation.
techUK are developing a vision for the future of mobility services in the UK that can be drawn upon by government and private sector alike. Accompanying this, we also identify key technologies that will enable progress towards a digitally-enabled, customer-focused mobility ecosystem across the country, as well as barriers that risk stagnation.
As a voice for the tech sector we are excited to be able share our vision, which we will be launching at the upcoming Supercharging the Digital Economy event on 18 October in Manchester.
By Jessica Russell, Programme Manager, SmarterUK, Smart Cities & Communities and Smart Transport, techUK