A New Mobility Era: How Digital Infrastructures make Citizen Centric Cities
09 of December of 2020
Our world is changing, and so do our infrastructures, that are constantly evolving to adapt to our new way of life and our cities. Mobility couldn’t be less, and we are experiencing, especially in this past few years, an evolution in our transports that is thriving us into a new mobility era. This new period will be defined by the necessity of creating new ways of transport in the cities that will fulfill the needs of all the different agents, as well as being sustainable for our planet.
We are already living in the future we imagined years ago, where traditional transport infrastructure meets the new digital infrastructure in our cities. Transport infrastructure will no longer be designed to be a purely physical way to facilitate people and goods movement. Now, it’s much more than that.
Citizens are experiencing an explosion of new forms of transportation adapted to their needs, and also influenced by the impact of e-commerce, which has experienced a boom during the last few years. Some key factors that are changing this mobility traditional patterns nowadays are teleworking, shared mobility and the necessity to look for sustainable transportation options.
In this sense, the digital could be the solution which will bring together traditional infrastructure with new mobility solutions to make cities better for everyone.
New digital infrastructure
Digital infrastructures are changing mobility in many ways. Cities are gradually experiencing an increment of new transport modes, such as car sharing, like Ferrovial’s venture, Zity, in Madrid or Paris.
They will also make demand-responsive shuttles and micromobility services evolve into a single Mobility As A Service offer, allowing a better capacity management and flow of thoroughfares and curbsides. This will have, on the one hand, an impact for citizens, who will benefit from an improved safety and more efficient travel times; and on the other hand, smooth and effective e-commerce deliveries, resulting in a reduction of emissions and consequentially, a positive impact for the environment.
Digital infrastructure can also promote a flexible, safe and sustainable mobility, and it’s been proven during the exceptional times we are living right now due the global pandemic. It’s essential to offer a great variety of different ways of transport that ensure safety: individual options or shared mobility, and not forgetting mass transit, which will need to provide rapid disinfectant solutions to protect public health and rebuild citizen confidence.
It will also be key when talking about sustainability. A roadmap to carbon neutral metropolis with sustainable transport infrastructures will need new urban mobility solutions, and for that, we will need a whole new world of digital infrastructure to support it such as public transit fleet electrification or dynamic urban mobility pricing schemes.
5G Connectivity, and infrastructure adaptation
Being provided with high-capacity and secure connectivity like 5G will also be key to enable autonomous transportation and other kinds of future mobility. Thanks to 5G, vehicles will be able to connect and share data between them (V2V) and with everything that surrounds them (V2X). They will share essential information to ensure a safe navigation, warning them in advance of dangerous situations on the road, adverse weather, obstacles, blind spots…
Not only safety will be improved. This real time data transmission will make traffic more efficient for autonomous vehicles, allowing them to reroute if there is an accident or traffic jam on their way.
Not only in mobility infrastructures, but this Digital era will also have an impact on city infrastructures, that will benefit from “Green-field” urban development, and we will see how it will offer an entire world of opportunities to plan and zone our cities for a much more citizen centric and integrated approach.
We can find also great opportunities to improve our urban spaces by designing, planning modifications and retrofitting of brown-field infrastructures, using technologies such as mobility modelling and simulation or parametric design.
All these civil transformation works will need new innovative construction processes such as modular automated construction (e.g. 3D priting), digitalization and robotics. And Construtech will be key here for the improvement of transport and cities infrastructures.
We are moving towards a new mobility era and we have ahead a long way that will require leadership, collaboration and investment from public and private associations. Long term public/private partnerships will be key to define this new period and what is coming after the pandemic.
And of course, we need our citizens to be engaged and committed to build a future for all in our cities.
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