How will smarter infrastructure simplify transport?


Janet Balis

EY Global Media & Entertainment Advisory Services Leader

Transformation leader in media and marketing. Innovator. Digital native. Change agent. Passionate advocate for women and gender parity. Influencer. Mother.

7 minute read 10 Oct 2018

Dramatic improvements to transportation are on the way – but delivering a truly frictionless travel experience will require overcoming a number of hurdles. 

FutureConsumer.Now is a look at customer experiences and how they will evolve and transform our world over the next 12 years. If you don’t think it will be dramatic, take a look at the changes over the last 12 years and know the rate of transformation will compound exponentially due to innovation and new technologies. Consider our hypotheses about moving for 2030.

Smart transport will spur new use cases and more integrated infrastructures

New transport experiences – from in-vehicle entertainment and smart parking through to traffic management and smart logistics – will deliver productivity and efficiency gains for both consumers and businesses. The integration of previously distinct infrastructures and data sets will help maximize the impact of these new value propositions.

Emerging technologies such as 5G, edge computing and narrowband IoT will play a pivotal role, delivering centralized or localized data management, and bringing together transport data and analytics with the world of physical infrastructures. At the same time, new interfaces can act as game-changers, from virtual grocery stores on the subway to vehicle windscreens that provide infotainment services.

Hyper-efficient transport will reenergize commuters and communities

Public transport systems will witness a step-change in capability. Dramatic reductions in travel time will be possible through new technologies such as magnetic levitation. This will drive substantially higher levels of productivity, creating a variety of network externalities.

Travel time will become both more compressed and enriched, to the benefit of all types of consumer, whether citizen or tourist, urban employee or rural small business owner. Ultimately this has the potential to redefine entire populations as commuting distances are shortened and access to services – both location-dependent and -independent – is simplified and enhanced.

The car will be the hub of connected experiences

The driving experience is set for a radical overhaul in the years to come. New capabilities – from in-vehicle broadband to remote vehicle diagnostics and autonomous driving – are arriving, spurring new demand scenarios. In EY’s survey of 10,000 European households more than one in four respondents think their households will own a connected car – one that offers connectivity or vehicle diagnostics – in five years’ time. Alongside new vehicle ownership models and innovations in pay-as-you-drive insurance, the world of driving is set for change on multiple fronts over the next decade.

Entering a new era of value creation

Frictionless transport is arriving fast

The business case for transport improvements is clear. In many societies, commuting time and distance continues to rise, even as flexible working mitigates growth in overall journeys.

In the US, average commuting time increased 18% between 1990 and 2014,1 while rapid urbanization means many cities in emerging markets now compete with developed market population centres for the longest journey times.

Improvements are already coming – improved transit systems are a cornerstone of smart city planning, and smartphone apps continue to redefine traveller access to data.

Looking ahead, the prospect for truly frictionless travel is promising. Virgin Hyperloop One, an investor in electromagnetic rail transport, believes its system can reduce the journey time from Los Angeles to Las Vegas from between two and five hours to just 30 minutes.2

The upside is not just limited to a smoother commute and increased productivity – research suggests a positive correlation between shorter commutes and overall life satisfaction.

Meanwhile, the prospect of augmented reality, driverless cars and upgraded transport hubs creates new opportunities for retailers, advertisers, hospitality providers and more. Concepts of downtime will change. Shopping will move from the aisle and tablet to the ticketing desk, and tourism services can be gamified en route to the next world heritage site.

Collaborative innovation can help meet challenges head on

However, challenges are never far from the surface. From traveller safety to consent-based location-sensitive marketing, delivering a truly frictionless travel experience will require overcoming a number of hurdles.

Immature technologies, nascent regulation and standards, the cost burden of legacy infrastructures and evolving consumer anxieties may all work against a reimagining of transport. Effective data governance and protection will also have a large say in determining the success of infrastructure integration initiatives.

In this light, it is vital that different public and private sector actors work more closely together. Creating new visions must be supported by fostering new forms of dialogue. Forward planning cycles will lengthen and more holistic industrial policies are vital, but so is tackling the operational intricacies of harnessing digital and real-world infrastructure.

Ecosystems will comprise an ever greater range of players – from transport providers and local and national governments to entrepreneurs, mobile network operators and systems integrators. Looking ahead, the dialogue between these different actors needs to be as frictionless as the transport infrastructures they aim to create.

Connected car ownership

1 out of 4

The number of respondents in the Netherlands, UK, France and Belgium who expect their household to own a connected car by 2020. (Source: EY consumer research of 10,000 broadband households in Belgium, France, Netherlands and UK, 2017.)

Realizing the core role of TMT in smart transport

TMT companies will play a crucial role in shaping how consumers ‘move’ in the future. The landscape of opportunity is wide, driven by a growing range of use cases and evolving set of industry value chains. As a result, there are a number of considerations TMT companies should ensure are central to their thinking.

Demystify 5G and revisit the rollout model

5G has an undeniable role to play in smart transport systems of the future. However, telcos and infrastructure vendors should take steps to educate other industries about the benefits it can unlock, which will help stimulate demand and adoption. Some smart transport services will depend upon a mix of capabilities. In this light, telcos should take care to optimize their technology portfolios, while adapting the traditional network rollout model to cater for the integration of transport and 5G infrastructure.

Optimize value chain positions in emerging ecosystems

Transport for the future consumer will require a range of industry participants, from vehicle manufacturers through to a range of TMT companies. Understanding the right role to play is no easy task. Some service providers may aim for upside with consumer-facing propositions, but many will also occupy more discrete value chain positions, for example leveraging 5G as a platform for a range of downstream transport use cases.

Deepen engagement levels with different industries

Strategic partnerships between different TMT companies, and between TMT companies and other industry verticals are becoming more important as ecosystems becoming more diverse. B2B2C business models can help drive innovative use cases within transport and logistics, and will require ever deeper levels of collaboration and co-creation. All the while, the needs of the end-user should be top of mind.

Engage early and often with government and public sector

National and local governments are primary stakeholders in evolving smart transport and smart city initiatives. Many are now focusing on how to integrate different infrastructures, such as road and railway networks with 5G access. In this light, TMT companies should engage early and often with the public sector to ensure that 5G and digital society visions are aligned, mutually reinforcing and ultimately practicable.

  • Methodology

    Through research and interviews with global innovators, futurists, business leaders and our own professionals, EY has identified over 150 drivers that could shape the future consumer.

    We used those drivers to create eight powerful hypotheses, each of which relates to a key aspect of the future consumer: how people will shop, eat, stay healthy, live, use technology, play, work and move.

    We then held a series of hackathons and innovation workshops around the world to explore these hypotheses further and to imagine the future worlds they might create.


Smarter transport services have limitless potential to redefine consumer experiences, and TMT companies have an essential role to play in driving this vision forward. However, a step-change in collaborative innovation is essential if TMT companies and their peers in other sectors are to turn the vision into reality.

About this article


Janet Balis

EY Global Media & Entertainment Advisory Services Leader

Transformation leader in media and marketing. Innovator. Digital native. Change agent. Passionate advocate for women and gender parity. Influencer. Mother.