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Urban Mobility 3.0: New Urban Mobility Business Models

Frost and Sullivan has assembled powerful players from the mobility world to lead debate on business model issues at its fifth annual Urban Mobility event.  This will take place at the House of Lords and at Siemens “Crystal” building in London’s docklands on 19th and 20th June – see http://www.urbanmobility.gilcommunity.com/. 

Transport KTN will be represented at the event and, following this preview, will publish a short series of post-event articles drawing out and discussing key themes emerging.

Timely and appropriate

The event’s focus on business models is timely and appropriate.  With the continuing drive for economic competitiveness, with the development of the connected society and with population growth, there is ever-increasing pressure on mobility.  We can no longer rely just on government investment to relieve this pressure.  This requires new means of delivering mobility and viable business models which support these new means.  With this in mind the emphasis of the event on policymakers and industry working together is clearly appropriate, as is the need for an integrated view cutting across modes.

Other recent urban mobility activity

It will be interesting to see if discussion at the event picks up themes emerging from other recent activity relevant to urban mobility.

A recent paper “Smart Cities and Smart Citizens” summarising discussion at this year’s FutureEverything Summit and published in Sustain (http://sustainmagazine.com/smart-cities-and-smart-citizens/) challenges the wisdom of large-scale technology platforms as the main enabler of future mobility and promotes a more flexible view of the enabling potential of technology.  The paper brings into focus questions such as the nature of future cities that we are aiming for – monolithic and efficient? or fluid, dynamic and responsive to the evolving needs of city inhabitants and businesses?  Whatever future city vision is preferred will need to be supported by appropriate business models.

Hot off the press is the “Challenges and Opportunities” paper prepared by the TSB’s Internet of Things Special Interest Group https://connect.innovateuk.org/documents/3077922/3726367/IoT+Challenges%2C%20final+paper%2C%20April+2013.pdf/38cc8448-6f8f-4f54-b8fd-3babed877d1a This rigorous analysis clearly identifies a significant role in the transport domain for IoT techniques.   Two key areas of focus are seen as critical to unlocking the deployment of IoT solutions and creating business opportunity – interoperability at all levels in the value chain (ie the ability of systems to exchange and make use of information in an open, safe and secure manner) and people-centred design.  The report identifies that appropriate business models have a key role in lubricating the value chain from technology enablers through to service delivery. 

A third perspective is provided by the output of the Transport KTN’s own recent Round Table on “Urban Mobility without New Infrastructure”https://connect.innovateuk.org/documents/3079971/3760307/Urban+round+table+summary.pdf/98228ea5-8a0e-4df7-8ce4-113ce2f7d1fc.  This identified business models as a clear area for innovation and suggestions included importing experience and expertise from outside the transport sector, including perhaps retail models.  The Round Table stressed the need for business models to be considered alongside other enablers of mobility (behavioural change, exploiting data and information, etc), the desirability of more sophisticated decision-making and the need for governance models which can properly reflect the breadth of stakeholder interests.

Business models are key to urban mobility and it will be interesting to see if models which create a pull for innovation will emerge.

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