Future of mobility blog series

Perspectives

Future of mobility and World Economic Forum blog series

Come along for the ride: 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.  

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.
 

Come along for the ride: achieving seamless, integrated mobility

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

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

Did you find this useful?