Future of mobility and World Economic Forum blog series
Come along for the ride: achieving seamless, integrated mobility
Scott L. Corwin, US Managing Director, Strategy and Business Transformation
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.
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