Why do we need a new approach?

man riding bike

Photo: Neal Jennings

Over the past several years, there have been a number of important changes to how we perceive mobility and what it means to us. Whereas it was once about getting from point A to point B in the fastest and/or cheapest way possible, it is now an expectation, a commodity, a service. It is an expression of generational identity and social status, at once digital and virtual. There are activity spaces, virtual spaces, products that bring us into the future, and products that are rooted in the past. MIND-SETS has proposed a new way of looking at mobility that takes the digital and human footprints, innovative products and activity spaces all into account. Alongside these conceptual realms there is also regulation and policy making, behavioural change and the sustainable triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

The key concepts

The four key concepts – the human footprint, the digital footprint, new activity spaces and innovative products – are aligned along two axes, the supply side (x-axis) and the demand side (y-axis). The supply side represents mobility projects, products and services, which can be purely physical, purely virtual, or some combination of the two. It includes information providing and virtual communication services as well as transport infrastructure. The demand side looks at mobility needs and whether these are motivated by concrete considerations, such as geography, or more abstract considerations, such as values and desires (including those influenced by our generational profiles).

The human footprint: Mobility lifestyles

Mobility has an important effect on well-being and identity, given that it is a reflection of how we interact with the environment that surrounds us, whether that be a physical, social or psychological one. The human aspect of mobility encompasses individual values, personality, and social and cultural norms, all of which factor into the decision-making process.

The digital footprint: Information and its impact on mobility

With the digitalisation of our world, we have a lot more information at our disposal than ever before. Not only do we have information about transport systems, through online journey planners and the like, but our transport providers now have information about us. There are a number of open questions about the use of Big Data; while this data can provide valuable inputs to providers of products and services, there are also privacy concerns that need to be addressed regarding the use and processing of data.

Another result of the technological developments of the past several years is that we can be in two places at once: physically present in one place and yet also present in another, virtual space through the use of messaging, VoIP or other communication tools. Other apps and technologies allow us to get a sense of places without actually being there, with interactive satellite maps enriched with both imagery and other, meaningful information, such as that regarding local services or traffic incidents.

Innovative products: How services enhance mobility         

There are three different types of technological developments and new business models that could well lead to major changes in mobility in the coming years. First of all, there is shared mobility, facilitated by new journey planning applications. Shared mobility can supplant both private car use and public transportation, but perhaps its most interesting application is as a solution to the “last mile” problem (getting home from the last accessible public transport stop).  Another promising new approach is MaaS, or Mobility as a Service, when users buy access to mobility rather than the individual products or services. An example of MaaS is buying a ticket that covers an entire trip involving several different forms of transport, rather than having to buy separate tickets for each leg of the journey.

Reality bytes: The blurring of physical and virtual activity spaces

The line between the physical and virtual is no longer as clear as it used to be. Communication technologies have disconnected activities from their locations, changing mobility patterns in the process. Accessibility has also changed in important ways – it might be more important nowadays to have access to a smartphone to stay connected and present, than it is to be physically mobile. In other words, we live in multiple spaces that are not simply physical and not simply virtual, but some combination of the two.

For more information, see the full deliverable or contact Laurie Pickup of VECTOS.

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