Future of mobility blog series

Perspectives

Come along for the ride: World Economic Forum Future of Mobility project blog series

At the start of this journey we recognize that there’s a lot we don’t know and we’ll need input from the best minds—but it’s a journey we’d like you to take with us here and via social media. Think of it as a “making of” documentary—but instead of finding out how that CGI dragon works, we’re sharing the blow-by-blow of achieving a real live, game-changing goal.

Make no mistake, seamless, integrated mobility will be a game-changer and this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to set it up right. Read on and find out about our first steps in this effort.

The journey begins

Before we even held our first meeting last month to discuss the project, the big question was—who can provide the kind of input we need? Based on Deloitte’s experience and the deep relationships we’ve built across the mobility ecosystem, we know cooperation and collaboration between the public and private sector will be critical to this effort. So it was natural to include representatives from government to offer the citizen perspective. Global leaders in freight and transport could provide a wider and experienced view of the challenges this industry experiences. Cars are a large part of the mobility ecosystem, so auto manufacturers were a must. And to give the project innovative and new thinking, start-ups in the mobility space were also actively engaged.

It’s an exciting and eclectic group we’ve gathered—and to give them full freedom to float their ideas and speak their minds, we won’t name them here. Because candid opinions and open exchange were what we were looking for at our first session (which took place at a Deloitte Greenhouse in Berlin, a space wholly dedicated to spurring innovative thinking). We had a lot to do at this meeting, including pulling together a unified vision for a SIMSystem based on an honest assessment of its potential and feasibility.

To get ideas flowing we used a video Deloitte’s Future of Mobility Practice produced called Ben’s Journey as a jumping off point. It details one possible way, out of thousands, that an average citizen—in this case, Ben—can move from point A to point B in the new mobility ecosystem. It shows how he can seamlessly assemble the transportation options he prefers and how they empower him to tailor the way he interacts and connects with them. It’s an example of a fully realized future state of mobility. A corresponding SIMSystem framework was presented from which the reality of Ben’s journey could be built while also exploring the wider movement of goods and passengers across geographies.

We asked, is Ben’s Journey really feasible? What needs to happen to get a SIMSystem off the ground? The answers, while they became clear after much discussion, are anything but easy. Interoperability, governance, technological capabilities, customer-centric design, data privacy, and cybersecurity—emerged as some serious challenges to be overcome. But some equally serious solutions were also floated, such as public-private partnerships and collaboration, standardized language and data exchanges, and information sharing. If done right, we can help accelerate adoption to connect cities and rural areas and address many of the inefficiencies, friction, and inequities of today’s transportation systems.

Our thinkers then broke into groups to tackle some specific and real challenges that a SIMSystem poses and needs to address. They studied mobility use cases that entailed the coordinated movement of people and products across geographies and during crises. They contemplated the difficulty of taking existing mobility systems and transitioning to a SIMSystem. They examined the ability of local networks to scale up and global ones to scale down. The discussions sought to map the intricacies of these situations—which are substantial once teased out. But more on that in my next blog.

So where did we end up? After dialogue and debate we were able to agree on the basic components of a SIMSystem and its scope. Just as important, we identified the major sticking points and what implementation would need to look like.

While we never thought this would be a ride without bumps, we now understand just how many factors have to be considered to make seamless mobility real (check out our session graphic and you’ll get a feel for the true complexity). But knowing where we are on this road and where we want to go is a good start.

Image credit: Marie Jacobi at www.visualrecording.de

Breaking it down

While contemplating a brave new future was exciting, it was now time to impose some structure on these imaginary but realistic situations. That meant looking at all the possibilities and challenges we had teased out in session one and using session two to address them in a systematic way. An integrated transport system was just too big of a concept to deal with as a whole. We needed a more systemic, molecular way to break it down into manageable parts that could translate into solutions and, ultimately, action.

To bring order out of complexity, we began as many do: with categories and lists. We had already identified the areas that needed to be interoperable for a SIMSystem to work: the physical assets, the digital technologies, and the rules governing the system. The physical level involves the infrastructure, vehicles, and cargo that make up the system. Digital is the sensors, networks, and data exchanges that connect the physical elements. The rules structure how the other two layers operate and interact (e.g., regulation, agreements, standards, protocols).

At our second session in New York at the World Economic Forum’s headquarters we used these three layers to help organize our thinking. Dividing into teams, participants took on the task of identifying which of the many challenges associated with a SIMSystem would fit into the layer they were assigned to—physical, digital, or rules—and then see if they could further group them under sub-topics. To get even more granular, they judged which ones to be high or low in terms of difficulty and if they were local, national, or international. Then they rotated. By the end, we had a pretty good overview of what challenges would go where, and some additional details to boot.

So we had our categories and we had our lists. What we now needed was a process to get us from questions to answers. To do this, each participant chose a challenge and formulated a declarative statement—a principle, if you will—about how it can be addressed. For example, “Create an exchange to match energy supply and demand.” It takes a SIMSystem challenge—matching energy supply and demand—and offers a solution—creating an exchange. Many of these principles were striking in their ability to distill some of the toughest challenges presented by a SIMSystem into practicable components. And these principles will be critical to formulating a call to action.

Because that’s what this is all about. We know that we can’t go to each country and municipality and individually convince them of the importance of an integrated transport system. But we can start building a transport manifesto—that is, the reasoning, the vision, and the possible solutions that can make a SIMSystem a reality. In two workshops we’ve tried to get our arms around this massive topic—to figure out the who, what, and where of a SIMSytem. In my next blog we will share how we’ll take what we’ve learned to the greater global community—and equip ourselves for the very exciting next step in this mobility journey.

Keep checking back here and at Deloitte’s Instagram for more on this Future of Mobility journey.
 

In the face of these challenges, new transport approaches—from ride-sharing to drone delivery—have sprung up. But isolated solutions like these won’t integrate the kind of information a commuter or other transport user will need to make informed decisions. There has to be a coordinated public and private response to today’s mobility challenges and the will to create a transport system for the future that is truly coordinated—that is, a Seamless, Integrated Mobility system, or a SIMSystem. In such a system, people and goods would move more efficiently because physical and digital assets would be interoperable and the friction caused by nonintegrated components eliminated.

As part of the Future of Mobility System Initiative, the Forum has embarked on a project to better understand the need for and characteristics of such a system. Working with a range of key shapers of the mobility ecosystem—from established technology enterprises to start-ups to government officials—the effort seeks to visualize a SIMSystem and its opportunities, identify the challenges and requirements, and provide guiding principles for real action. Because without concerted action now, an integrated mobility system will either fail to emerge, fail to emerge quickly enough to address the world’s looming mobility challenges, or emerge in a way that fails to meet the needs of governments, the private sector, and users.

The first step in a journey of this magnitude is to motivate stakeholders with a vision for how a SIMSystem would benefit society. Enhanced mobility drives inclusive growth through increased access to healthcare, education, and economic opportunity—not just for wealthy and healthy citizens, but also for elderly, blind, and disadvantaged citizens. In a SIMSystem, governments, transport providers, and users harness technology to seamlessly connect and exchange real-time information across the entire spectrum of transport modes—bus, shipping, rideshare, autonomous pod, bikeshare, air travel, rail, etc. Businesses make money. Cities reduce congestion. Citizens enjoy a higher quality of life.

Fourth Industrial Revolution technology is one of the key factors making a new mobility ecosystem possible. The Internet of Things, smart sensors, and machine learning enable disparate transportation systems to interact, predict, and respond in various scenarios—from something as routine as planning a family holiday to reacting to a contagious disease outbreak. With technology, multi-layer interoperability among players, modes, and geographies can yield a more convenient, more affordable, cleaner, safer, and more accessible transportation network.

Any ambitious vision of transport must also consider rapid advancements in autonomous and driverless vehicles and drones. While these transport modes are still nascent, leaving them out of a potential model of a SIMSystem would be negligent and hardly aspirational.

Aspirational or not, the implementation of a SIMSystem will require public-private collaboration. In our view of integrated mobility, these partnerships would set up protocols to address potential challenges, such as funding mechanisms and data sharing. And with the evolution of a SIMSystem likely to be different across geographies, key stakeholders will be able to capitalize on models that are adaptable, customizable, and scalable to their own particular needs.

In the initial phase of this project, we’ve tried to capture not only the need and vision for integrated mobility, but also principles for enablement. What are the ideal conditions and actions that can make a SIMSystem a reality? Some of these include:

  • Governments serving in the role of conveners and gatekeepers to bring together public and private sector actors with potentially conflicting priorities and incentives
  • Consolidation of decision rights into a centralized mobility authority that can address the complexity of transportation regulatory systems
  • Evaluating the success of integration efforts by establishing outcome-oriented mobility measurement standards
  • Cities operating as labs for SIMSystem pilots, with successful models then deployed and scaled in other geographies
  • Developing new governance models that can cope with the complexity of the emerging mobility marketplace 

These principles are part of what is ultimately a call to action to all entities impacted by mobility—a manifesto, if you will. And there are few entities that will not be impacted as mobility underpins nearly every facet of modern life. A wait and see approach will only make it harder, if not impossible, down the road to corral the one-off transport solutions that continue to spring up.

It is a daunting task—seamless, integrated mobility. But if we start now, it is also a thrilling, once-in-a-generation opportunity to get the future of mobility right.

The first deliverable in the Forum’s SIMSystem project—Designing a Seamless Integrated Mobility System (SIMSystem): A Manifesto for Transforming Passenger and Goods Mobility—will launch at Davos 2018, where we will be sharing the concept with public and private organizations from around the world to gain support for multiple pilots as early as next year.

Taking advantage of the unique gathering and cross section of leaders that the annual WEF meeting in Davos offers, we were able to gain additional feedback on our SIMSystem proposals in a private session. Important players from across the mobility ecosystem attended, including leaders from the private sector—including automotive executives, platform providers, and technology developers—and high-level government ministers in transportation and administration. Their active engagement provided us with insights and guidance to refine a core set of ten guiding principles as we move toward implementing a SIMSystem, including that:

  • Investment will need to take place in both the physical layer (infrastructure like roads, airports, ports, energy systems, and transport modes) and the digital layer (platforms, marketplaces), which can be mutual reinforcing and more impactful with accurate, dynamic data and real-time analytics (e.g., busiest routes, failing infrastructure, routing, security)
  • To create an environment where data is shared, both governments and private players will need to establish frameworks on how to create, use, and disseminate data while safeguarding value creation and consumer security and privacy
  • All SIMSystems will need to be designed based on the needs and behaviors of consumers, while also incorporating mechanisms to help drive desired behavior (for example, greener choices, sharing, pooled online shopping)

We also built awareness for the SIMSystem via a livestream session, where a panel of experts on the mobility ecosystem articulated some of the nuances of making this system a reality. Among the panelists were Alan Murray, Chief Content Officer Time Inc. (now Meredith Corporation) and President of Fortune, Siemens CTO Dr. Roland Busch, and nuTonomy President Karl Iagnemma. With hundreds of thousands of viewers, the session broadened the reach of our future of mobility message and further built on the insights gained from the private session.

We come out of Davos energized and enthusiastic to embark on the next phase of our SIMSystem project with the World Economic Forum’s Shaping the Future of Mobility System Initiative led by John Moavenzadeh. Our focus will shift to stand up a demonstration in one or more geographies. We will be seeking governments and partner organizations to develop SIMSystem pilots —and last week several promising cities/nations already began to emerge. These pilots will not only demonstrate the benefits of a SIMSystem but also help us learn how to effectively scale up in terms of geography, functionality, and modes of transport. We are excited to continue working closely with the Forum and hope you will join us in making this ambitious vision a reality and demonstrate the enormous impact a SIMSystem can deliver.

SIMSystem phase 2: putting our principles into practice

Come along for the ride

In the first phase of the World Economic Forum and Deloitte’s effort to realize the promise of a seamless, integrated mobility system—or SIMSystem—we acknowledged that it would require “proactive and thoughtful” planning. By taking a holistic view of transport, we identified strategies, digital technologies, and principles that communities and their private sector partners could use to make seamless mobility a reality. The results of this thoughtful effort can be found in our manifesto—Designing a Seamless Integrated Mobility System—a vision of how the system may operate and 10 working principles to guide stakeholders.

But now comes the activation phase. The manifesto is a jumping off point for phase 2 in our SIMSystem project: piloting our principles in an actual community and demonstrating the impact a SIMSystem can have. In short, testing seamless mobility on the ground, in real cities with real challenges.

To do this, we had to put the word out (see 10 ways government leaders can improve transport mobility). We needed government entities that would be willing to apply our principles to their own mobility ecosystem—providing our project with essential practical application and, hopefully, improving the integration and interoperability of their mobility system.

More than a dozen geographies were up for the challenge, with applications coming from municipalities, regions, and countries around the world. Deciding which of these applications would be our primary partner was the focus of our first Phase 2 workshop in New York City. At this meeting, we once again gathered the SIMSystem Working Group, comprising a wide range of mobility stakeholders—including large multinational technology, telecommunications, and transportation companies, cutting-edge mobility start-ups, and academics with expertise in transport and government administration.

With such a variety of proposals to assess, it was critical to divide and conquer. Based on an initial evaluation of the proposals, applications with similar qualities were divided among four groups, ranging from urban centric options to regional ones and from early stage to more advanced innovators.

But before examining the proposals, we needed to decide what kind of parameters would guide our evaluation—that is, what factors supported the most successful application of our SIMSystem principles? Was the movement of goods a better way to test mobility than the movement of people or did both need to be present? Were there factors that could inhibit scalability or measurability? Is leadership commitment clearly demonstrated? Do the geography or socioeconomic conditions play a role? How would this initiative realize advances in accessibility, equity, and sustainability? Even more importantly—and ultimately practical for our purposes—what were the realities of a SIMSystem project in terms of funding, commitment, control, and execution in each one of these proposed pilot areas?

These were some of the critical issues weighed by the four groups when they broke up to evaluate the applications with similar characteristics. Each group presented the most compelling applications and voiced why they were suitable partners. A narrowed down list of applications were ranked in a first round of voting. After an additional review and debate of the finalist applications, a second vote was taken, with one application emerging as the finalist for the primary partner government in this pilot.

As recently announced by the Forum, a joint application submitted by Detroit, MI, United States, Ann Arbor, MI, United States and Windsor, ON, Canada was selected. While some areas that submitted applications were famous for their innovation and others for their extensive public transit systems, the application from Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Windsor offered a mix of urban and regional environments and unique cross-border initiatives and impacts, allowed for experimentation with the transport of both people and goods, and provided the opportunity to integrate mobility initiatives already underway.

Another significant outcome from the workshop, other than the finalist selection itself, was the realization that focusing on two geographies, as initially proposed in the application process, was not the best course of action. Through our efforts at the workshop, we came to an understanding of the depth and variety of challenges these applications are trying to address. We concluded that there are many mobility pilots and demonstrations occurring around the world, but if we want to get the most impact out of this SIMSystem effort, we need to concentrate all our energies on one area. Scalability and best practices are a critical outcome and these can only be achieved through a successful engagement.

Yet the expertise and enthusiasm of other applicants could not be denied. Why should our relationship with them end here, we asked? We all agreed it shouldn’t. The World Economic Forum and Deloitte have already reached out to all the applicants and requested that they continue to be a part of this community of government and private sector leaders driving forward the future of mobility. Leveraging the Forum’s global platform, we look to build a global ecosystem of public and private sector leaders that enables the exchange of knowledge and leading practice, through both in-person workshops and digital collaboration.

We all still have a lot to learn as we strive to make the SIMSystem vision a reality and the knowledge developed and exchanged through this pilot is a critical part of our success. It will be an exciting journey—seeing the work of Phase 1 put into practice—and I hope you continue to come along for the ride.

10 ways government leaders can improve transport mobility

A joint SIMsystem blog by Scott L. Corwin, Global Future of Mobility Leader, and John Moavenzadeh, Head of Mobility Industries and System Initiative, World Economic Forum. Read the latest SIMsystem blog post ...

Bringing the vision for a seamless integrated mobility system to life at Davos

Fourth in the series by Scott L. Corwin, Global Future of Mobility Leader

It’s been a busy couple of months in our SIMSystem journey and a few days ago at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, I was thrilled for the release of our work, the report Designing a Seamless Integrated Mobility System (SIMSystem). Developed via a collaboration between Deloitte and the World Economic Forum—with vigorous engagement from business, government, and academic leaders—the report makes an ambitious case for how a SIMSystem can address many of the challenges in today’s disparate transportation system resulting in taking longer to travel from point A to point B, increased cost and inconvenience.

As mentioned in earlier blogs, a SIMSystem seeks to connect and integrate different modes of transport to improve overall efficiency and enable more accessible mobility for greater number of people and higher volume of goods. There is great urgency for this system as the population of urban centers continues to grow exponentially. Our report demonstrates how a SIMSystem can deliver enormous value to citizens, communities, and sectors. Near term, by more efficiently utilizing transportation assets and catalyzing more responsive innovation. Longer term, by realigning the overall system to demand and guiding transportation and infrastructure investment.

Seamless integrated mobility: how do we get from here to there?

Third in the series by Scott L. Corwin, Global Future of Mobility Leader and John Moavenzadeh, Head of Mobility Industries and System Initiative, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum LLC

Imagine you’re running late getting to an important meeting across town. It’s rush hour and a section of highway has collapsed wreaking havoc across the city. What are your options?

In most transport systems, there wouldn’t be many—and getting the information you need to make the right decision would be hard to come by. The truth is that today’s transport systems are under enormous strain. Rail and highway infrastructure in many areas is aging. Populations are growing fast in places with some of the biggest transport challenges. And the explosion in online shopping is putting pressure on traditional delivery channels.

Scott Corwin Blog #3 Seamless Integrated Mobility

Translating a SIMsystem vision into action

Second in the series by Scott L. Corwin, Global Future of Mobility Leader

In my last blog about the World Economic Forum and Deloitte’s efforts to develop a seamless, integrated mobility system (SIMSystem), I described how we are trying to help accelerate adoption of this new ecosystem. A SIMSystem creates a comprehensive view of mobility —that means the movement of people and goods, regardless of the mode (or modes) they travel by—and brings its multiple components into harmony with innovative technology and smart policies.

In this blog I’m going to talk about how our working group—comprising 20-plus senior leaders from major transport enterprises to start-ups and academics—went about tackling such a wide-ranging topic. Something as complex and ambitious as a SIMSystem doesn’t spring fully formed from anyone’s head. It requires imagination: we are contemplating a system that does not yet exist, after all. But it also requires keeping focus on where we’re collectively trying to go—and not getting bogged down in (or discouraged by) the apparent challenges along the way.

Let imagination be your guide

Analyzing a few futuristic SIMSystem scenarios in our first working meeting at Deloitte’s Berlin Greenhouse played a big role in getting us to think past the limits of today’s multi-modal transportation system. The scenarios imagined a world where innovative new technologies, like hyperloop and mobile autonomous lockers, could enable moving passengers and goods faster, safer, cleaner, and cheaper than today. Using a reverse-engineering approach, we took hypothetical scenarios and worked backward to figure out what kinds of challenges would need to be overcome to make them a reality.

We’re not talking flying cars here. Rather, the scenarios featured the commonplace use of such new, emerging technologies as electric autonomous vehicles (or “pods”) and drone product delivery. They featured sensors directing traffic in real time, measuring air pollution, and gauging weather conditions. Digital networks connected passengers to vendors and to transport operators, and local municipalities to national governments and NGOs. Situations ranged from the everyday—going on a family trip—to the critical—addressing a contagious disease outbreak. And all the scenarios envisioned a myriad of transport options and capabilities available only with a functional SIMSystem.  

SIMSystem vision into action

Achieving seamless, integrated mobility

First in the series by Scott L. Corwin, Global Future of Mobility Leader

Few things matter as much in the world as mobility. It provides access to healthcare, education, jobs, and goods and services. It connects us, enhances our quality of life, and spurs economic innovation. But the way people and goods move about is being radically transformed. A confluence of trends, both technological and social, is driving a new mobility ecosystem where different modes of transportation—from cars, trucks, trains and buses to a future that includes autonomous pods, on-demand shuttle busses, mobile lockers, drones, hyperloop, and self-driving trucks — interact to move both people and freight. Fully realized, it can mean a faster, cleaner, safer, cheaper, and more efficient transportation network.

Getting to this future of mobility, however, will require proactive and thoughtful planning. For a smooth transition, a range of operational challenges need to be overcome. That’s why the World Economic Forum and Deloitte are embarking on a project to identify solutions that can accelerate realizing the promise of a seamless, integrated mobility system—or SIMSystem. By taking a holistic view of transport and how it can leverage emerging technologies, this initiative will ultimately offer strategies, digital technologies, and guidelines that communities can use to make seamless mobility a reality.

Scott Corwin: Achieving seamless integrated mobility

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